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Is it just Snoring, or is it Sleep Apnea?

Home Blog Is it just Snoring, or is it Sleep Apnea?
Is it just Snoring, or is it Sleep Apnea?

Snoring is a common occurrence. According to the Sleep Foundation, 90 million Americans snore.

Chances are if you snore, it's disrupting your partner's sleep. If your snoring is an indication of sleep apnea, then your partner isn't the only one losing out on their sleep; you are too. 

The real question is how do you know when your snoring is just snoring, or if it's an indication of something more serious, like sleep apnea

 

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition where sleep is repeatedly interrupted by apnea or hypopnea episodes. Apnea literally means "without breath" and is clinically defined as a period of at least ten seconds when you stop breathing (most apneas last between ten and thirty seconds). Apneas cause your body to unconsciously "wake-up" in order to restore the airway. The more severe the sleep apnea, the more times your body is roused during sleep. This prevents you from reaching the deep stages of sleep, like rapid eye movement (REM).  

 

What is Snoring? 

According to The Sleep Foundation:

"Snoring is really just noisily breathing in your sleep. When you fall asleep, the muscles in your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow and 'floppy.' As you breathe, the walls of your throat begin to vibrate, which is what causes snoring. The more narrow your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring." 

 

Snoring Causes

Snoring is the one symptom that is commonly and stereotypically tied to sleep apnea, but it is a myth that everyone who snores has sleep apnea and that everyone who has sleep apnea snores. 

Here are some conditions that can affect your airway and cause snoring:

  • Excessive weight - individuals who are overweight may have extra tissue in the back of their throats that narrows their airway. This airway obstruction can create an increase in throat vibrations, which causes snoring. 
  • Alcohol consumption - Consuming a lot of alcohol (especially before bed) can relax your throat muscles and decrease your natural defenses against airway obstruction. 
  • Nasal problems - nasal congestion or a crooked partition between your nostrils (deviated nasal septum) may contribute to your snoring. 
  • Sleep position - people snore at their loudest when they are sleeping on their back because this also narrows their airway. 
  • Older age - because the throat muscles relax as you get older, snoring is a common byproduct of aging. 

 

Is my snoring an indication of sleep apnea?

The biggest telltale sign that your snoring might be an indication of sleep apnea is if it is associated with any of these accompanying symptoms: 

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness at inappropriate times (e.g. while at work, reading, driving, etc.)
  • Observed apneas (usually by a partner)
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Morning headaches 
  • Frequent need to go to the bathroom at night
  • Mood swings or depression
  • Inability to concentrate on driving or work tasks

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above in addition to snoring, then the best thing you can do is visit your doctor. Untreated sleep apnea can be detrimental to your health, so it's important that if you do have it, you get it treated immediately. 

If you have been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, then be sure to check out all of the resources on our website: 

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