Most of us recognize the sound of snoring even if we don’t know why it happens. It’s when a comfortable position transitions to a relaxed state, causing the air from breathing to vibrate relaxed throat tissues. Almost everyone snores at some time. Some people snore every time they drift off to sleep. So when does snoring become a “wake up” call?
While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, one of the signature signs of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Consider other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea including:
- Repeated days of sleepiness or fatigue even after a full night’s sleep with difficulty concentrating or experiencing mood changes, e.g., irritability over insignificant issues
- Others observing moments of stopped breathing while sleeping
- Waking up abruptly with gasping for air or choking
- Waking up with a dry mouth, sore throat, and/or headache but you aren’t sick
- Frequent night sweats (even in cool environments)
- High blood pressure
If you have experienced one or more of the above, it may be time to wake up, reach out, and discuss your symptoms with a healthcare provider.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious medical condition. OSA is when the same muscles that relax and vibrate while snoring, relax to the point of blocking the snorer’s air way and actually interrupts breathing. These pauses in breathing increase carbon monoxide build up in the body. Untreated, OSA can have a negative impact on insulin resistance, elevate blood pressure, and increase risk of cardiovascular disease. Combined with obesity it can increase Type 2 Diabetes risk.
The only way to confirm its diagnosis is with a sleep apnea test. This testing can either be performed overnight at a sleep clinic or, occasionally, at home with a different type of sleep apnea test. While the home sleep apnea test does not collect the same information as a sleep study clinic test, it does provide the benefits of sometimes being less expensive and allows the participant to sleep in their own bed . . . and sometimes that’s important to the participant. Sometimes it’s important to the healthcare provider to gather more complete information from a sleep study clinic. The number one thing to remember: Diagnosis and treatment begins with a conversation with your healthcare provider. Wake up and get an appointment.
If you have diabetes are you at risk for OSA? No. Diabetes is a result of increased blood sugar levels. If you’re overweight, the increased weight may increase your risk for OSA.
After a diagnosis of OSA, the gold standard of treatment is continuous positive airway pressure therapy, or CPAP. Yes, this means sleeping with a CPAP machine. Before you decide “no way”, know that there are many options available today that are effective and minimally disruptive. The pressurized air flow through the night keeps airways open. The snoring goes away. The CPAP machines are designed to run quietly — about the volume of a clock ticking. Many people find the sound like a “white noise” masking other sounds that might be disturbing. Most importantly, CPAP users typically report immediately feel better and having more energy when they wake.
While we frequently tell people how important eating and activity is to health, we sometimes forget the importance of sleep. Restful sleep allows our body to recover from the day before and prepare for the day to come. Sleep helps us mentally and physically. Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, sleeping on your side, and avoiding alcohol at bedtime can reduce snoring. Sleep deficiency from obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an impaired immune system; poor mental health; and increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and kidney disease.
If you’re tired of being tired, wake up and seek the answers to truly restful sleep. Your body will appreciate it.