Snoring is often taken lightly while it can, in fact, negatively impact our health. Loud snoring accompanied by daytime fatigue is a well-known sign of sleep apnea. It is a relatively common disorder, characterized by repeated breathing pauses during sleep. Knowing how to deal with apnea is very important, seeing as how this disorder can leave you feeling exhausted during the day and even affect your mood and your relationship with your bed partner, not to mention that it is a health hazard.
In order to deal with a problem, you first need to get familiar with it. This having been said, sleep apnea is a relatively common, yet serious sleep disorder that is manifested in short breathing pauses during sleep. These brief breathing interruptions can occur hundreds of times per night. It severely compromises the natural sleep rhythm. Plus, it can further take its toll in terms of rest and productivity the following day.
Most people suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs as a result of a blocked airway that causes breathing pauses and very loud snoring. The main consequence of this disorder is sleep deprivation, which causes daytime sleepiness, lack of focus, slow reflexes, moodiness, irritability and, in some cases, even depression.
Although sleep apnea is accompanied by loud snoring, loud snoring doesn’t necessarily have to be a sign of sleep apnea. Furthermore, seeing as how the symptoms only occur while you are asleep, it is an issue that’s really difficult to spot on your own. Pay attention how often you feel inexplicably tired and exhausted during the daytime. This can be an indication that you may be suffering from sleep apnea.
The best way to check for it is to ask your bed partner if they have noticed anything, but recording yourself is yet another viable way to spot issues such as pauses that occur while you snore, especially if they are accompanied by choking and/or gasping. Some additional symptoms include waking up at night feeling short of breath, snorting, insomnia and even impotence.
How to Tell Sleep Apnea from Mere Snoring
Although it is clear that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, it is important that we mention that sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily have to be accompanied by snoring. The best way to distinguish normal snoring from sleep disorders such as apnea by paying attention to how you feel during the day. The former doesn’t interfere with sleep quality, while the latter calls for a home- or clinic-based sleep test and sleep apnea treatment if necessary, further down the road.
What Causes Sleep Apnea
Knowing what causes this disorder can be very useful in dealing with it. Despite the fact that anyone can have apnea, the following four groups of people have a higher risk of being afflicted by this disorder:
- Smokers over the age of 50 who suffer from high blood pressure
- Overweight males, with a family history of sleep disorders like apnea
- People with a neck circumference that exceeds 15.75”
- People who are black or Hispanic, and Pacific Islanders
In addition to the four mentioned groups, disorders such as a deviated septum, receding chin, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids are also known causes of the disorder in question. If your throat muscles tend to relax more than normal, your airway may end up being blocked or narrowed during sleep. This is directly associated with obstructive sleep apnea.
Once you recognize the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, don’t postpone a visit to your doctor. While the impact of this disorder may not manifest itself immediately, sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can lead to many complications and even permanent damage. Visiting a doctor, just to be sure, is the best way to go.
Do you or someone you know suffer from sleep apnea?