Do you have a few snorers in your family? Maybe they’ve heard one of these jokes:
Snoring comes easily to me.
In fact, I can do it in my sleep.
Daddy brings his little son to bed.
After a while, Mom quietly opens the door and whispers, “Has he already fallen asleep?”
Her son answers: “Yep, and he snores!”
Apparently, I snore so loudly,
It scared everyone in the car I was driving!
All jokes aside, snoring isn’t much fun for the sleeper or their bedmate! In fact, along with sleeplessness, snoring can make you sick (especially if the cause is sleep apnea). Left untreated, snoring from sleep apnea places you at greater risk for developing apnea-related health hazards like clogged arteries, diabetes, and strokes.
Sleep apnea snorers are in good company, as millions of Americans struggle with this disorder. Simple snoring (SS) without obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also common (and a nuisance to those trying to sleep next to you).
Besides getting a good night’s sleep for you and your partner, getting enough zzz’s improves your health. If you have OSA, your body will release stress hormones while you sleep, reducing your energy, and so you feel sleepy all day. Gaining weight, having issues with your memory, and aging your skin are all unpleasant side effects from sleep apnea. Worsening sleep habits can also lead to the following:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Congestive heart failure
- Atrial fibrillation
- Certain cancers
- Sudden death
- Being more accident-prone
As your snoring habits worsen, so does your partner’s ability to get proper restorative sleep. Moodiness can arise and affect your relationship, cause resentment, lessen intimacy, and lead to sleeping in separate rooms in the hopes of getting restful sleep.
Simple snoring can be caused by your oral anatomy (mouth and sinuses), health and lifestyle. As you fall asleep and enter the deep sleep phase or your night, your mouth muscles on the roof, tongue, and throat begin to relax completely, sometimes blocking your airway enough to cause it to vibrate.
When you doze off and move from light sleep to deep sleep, the muscles on the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate, making you snore louder as the airflow becomes more forceful. Simple snoring can also happen if you are overweight as the extra tissues in the back of your throat narrow the airway.
Simple snoring can also be caused by drinking too much alcohol before you go to bed, or you have nasal congestion, a deviated septum, and even from not getting enough sleep, which also relaxes the throat too much. And back sleepers tend to snore as gravity causes the airway to narrow.
If your partner complains about your loud, frequent snoring as well as pauses in your breathing (that last anywhere from 10 seconds to a minute or longer) along with shallow breathing while you sleep, it may be from sleep apnea. Both of these kinds of snoring are often worse if you are overweight, have a big tongue or tonsils, are getting older, and from the extra weight in your head and neck.
A big red flag for sleep apnea is if you gasp or choke while you sleep and feel overly tired throughout your day. If you or your partner suspect you might have sleep apnea, now is the time to find out more about your condition by scheduling a sleep study with our team.
For some, losing weight, limiting alcohol before bedtime, and altering your sleep position can help. Wearing an oral appliance or nasal strips while you sleep, or even having surgery can give you the rest your mind and body need. If your snoring arises from sleep apnea, it’s more likely that a CPAP is recommended. It is a mask connected to a tube and blowing machine that supplies you with continuous airway pressure to keep your airway open so you can breathe easily. Our sleep health provider will work with you to find the best option for you.
While snoring makes for great jokes, it can come at a cost to getting optimal sleep. If you (or your partner’s) sleep is suffering, we urge you to contact our team for a sleep study and sleep solutions. You and your partner deserve a good night’s sleep, and both your health will benefit!