No one likes snoring, not even the person doing the snoring. But what are you going to do? Everyone makes noise when they sleep, right? Isn’t snoring just something that some people do?
Yes and no. You’re right that some noise at night is normal, and even the quietest sleeper can snore a little bit on occasion. But the kind of snoring that happens all the time and is loud enough to wake the whole house is definitely not supposed to happen. Such noise could be a sign of a serious health problem called sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
This sleeping disorder can literally cause you to stop breathing as you sleep. Normally when you sleep, your body keeps breathing like you would expect. But people with sleep apnea either have trouble breathing or outright stop while asleep. This often leads to horrible snoring.
There are two types of sleep apnea: OSA and CSA. OSA stands for obstructive sleep apnea, and this is when the muscles in your throat get too relaxed and start to close off your airway. When the airway starts to collapse like this, it creates a lot of vibration and noise as you try to suck air through the obstruction. Eventually, your airway can close temporarily.
Central sleep apnea is similar, but instead of dealing with throat muscles, your brain fails to signal your body to keep breathing. Regardless of the cause, the effect is the same. You partially wake up because your body thinks it’s suffocating. But the problem is fixed the moment you awake, so you quickly fall back asleep. This can happen hundreds of times in a given night, meaning you never get the good night’s sleep essential to not feeling like a zombie the next day. But there is a lot of misinformation out there about this condition, so here are some facts about sleep apnea that may surprise you.
The Surprising Facts About Sleep Apnea
- Skinny people can get it: There’s a myth running around out there that sleep apnea only affects people who are overweight. That’s probably because weight is a risk factor for sleep apnea. People who are overweight (with a BMI of 25 or higher) are more likely to get sleep apnea. But the same is true for diabetes. If you’re unhealthy, you’re more likely to get diabetes — but that doesn’t mean healthy people can’t get it. The fact is that sleep apnea can strike anyone regardless of health, age, or weight.
- Alcohol can make it worse: We all know you can have a few drinks before bed to help you sleep, right? Actually, no. Alcohol can make you feel drowsy, but as the alcohol leaves your system, you wake up again. People who suffer from sleep apnea might fall asleep a little faster, but that alcohol will actually make the situation worse. You will snore even more loudly and wake up more often.
- It’s more than just a snoring problem: Yes, loud snoring almost every night is one of the big indicators that you could have sleep apnea. But that’s not the only symptom. There’s a laundry list of problems associated with sleep apnea, such as headaches in the morning, irritability, concentration problems, daytime fatigue, insomnia, sore throat, and memory issues. Think about it. Along with eating and drinking, sleep is an absolute requirement to keep living. When you skip a night of sleep, you’re a wreck the next day. And that’s the big problem with sleep apnea. When you keep waking up repeatedly, you’re not getting the sleep you need to stay healthy and sane.
- It can cause many health problems: If you’re not getting that sleep, your risk for a list of different problems gets much higher. Hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart attacks are more common when you are suffering from sleep apnea. The same is true for strokes and type 2 diabetes. There are mental health issues as well, because sleep apnea has been linked to moodiness, depression, and worsening of ADHD effects.
- You can do something about it: The first step in sleep apnea treatment is to get tested with a special device. We have partnered with Sleep Group Solutions to properly diagnose sleep apnea in our patients. Treatment depends on the severity of your disorder, but at our dental offices in Bridgeport/Trumbull and Shelton, we can provide a special bite guard that you keep it in your mouth when you sleep. It moves your lower jaw just enough to keep your airway open, helping you breathe normally and stay asleep. There are also sleep apnea machines called CPAP that can keep your airway open as well.
Sleep apnea is much worse than just snoring. It can keep you and your loved ones awake all night long. And going without good sleep causes lots of health problems. Contact either of our two Connecticut offices — Bridgeport/Trumbull at 203-372-1220 or Shelton at 203-378-9737 — and we can discuss how to get help with our sleep apnea treatment.