If I Snore do I have Sleep Apnea?
Many people associate snoring with Sleep Apnea and for good reason. According to the Chicago Tribune 50 to 80 percent of snorers have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. So the short answer is yes, if you snore you likely could have Sleep Apnea. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t have something else. It’s not as straightforward as you’d think.
Snoring is not a disease, it is a symptom, any part of the airway that is lacking support can relax during sleep and cause blockage in the airway. This could be the tongue or any muscle tissue in the throat. Many times this is enough to make you wake up in your sleep which is what Sleep Apnea is. These brief moments of wake can cause the less peaceful and more fragmented sleep that people with OSA have.
What determines if someone has Sleep Apnea or not then?
Simply put, if the amount of times you wake up is numerous enough then it will qualify as Sleep Apnea. If you only wake up for a few split seconds 1-2 times then – while obviously not healthy – it won’t be significantly terrible for you either.
In more technical terms, there are two different types of Sleep Apnea: Central Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The former, while much harder to treat than the latter, is also much rarer. When people talk about Sleep Apnea, 90% they’re actually talking about Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition where excess tissue will relax into the airway causing a blockage. This blockage will disrupt sleep and is the cause of the episodes of “microwakes” as I like to call them, where the person afflicted may wake up as many as 100 times in one night. Although not a problem if it’s only a one night deal, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can lead to drowsiness, high blood pressure, and insomnia which can all become worse over time if not treated.
Ways to fix snoring
If your snoring isn’t too bad you can sometimes take small measures to fix it. However if it’s bad enough you may need something more serious such as surgery or an oral appliance to fix it. Here’s some of the most efficient methods people find to reduce their snoring.
- Lose excess weight
- Set up a humidifier in your bedroom
- Sleep on your side
- Stop drinking/smoking
Each of these are very powerful fixes. Many people find that losing weight, although hard to do at first, is the best cure for sleep apnea. Sleeping on your side is also a nice fix. However this only works if you regularly sleep on your back. Back sleepers allow their throat to relax during sleep which can cause snoring. I realize drinking and smoking is a hard habit to kick, but it really can be a huge help for your health. In fact, if you drink before bed regularly, there is a significant risk to your health if you are also diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. The alcohol further relaxes the tissue causing worse blockages than usual in a night, possibly leading to suffocation and death.
So what should I do about it?
If your snoring only happens rarely then you probably don’t have much to worry about. But if you’ve been told you sleep worse than a trucker on Christmas Eve then you might want to get a consult by a certified sleep professional. It could very well be nothing, but you’re not going to know for sure unless you talk to someone about it. So take the phone call and appointment and get it checked out; it very well could save your life.
Snoring is one of the main symptoms for Obstructive Sleep Apnea so take this sleep assessment if you are a constant snorer.