Snoring is certainly annoying, but did you know that it can actually lead to death if it’s not treated? Snoring makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, and that can lead to a number of different types of long-term damage. Without at least six hours of good sleep every night, the risk of a number of conditions such as heart disease increases. While light snoring on its own may not be a huge risk, those whose snoring is loud enough to wake others may need to have a sleep study done since it can be a sign of a much larger problem.
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA occurs when a person actually stops breathing while sleeping. This is caused by the airway being blocked. This is what leads to snoring. When someone lets out a very loud snort, what’s actually happening is that they’re not getting enough air. They’re gasping to take another breath because the brain has recognized that it’s not receiving the oxygen it needs in order to function. Someone who snores sporadically at night likely has sleep apnea.
In many cases, this blockage is actually caused by the throat muscles relaxing more than they should. The muscles then block the airway themselves. In some cases, those with sleep apnea actually stop breathing for more than ten seconds. This can result in severe drops in the body’s oxygen levels.
Someone who stops breathing during the night often can expect to experience a number of horrible side effects. In addition to feeling restless all night, they may also feel very tired and sleepy during the day. Many people with OSA experience headaches in the morning, which can make it difficult to concentrate and prepare to get through the day.
The biggest problems, though, occur from how snoring affects the cardiovascular system. When a person stops breathing dozens or even hundreds of times a night, it can affect their blood pressure. It can also lead to atherosclerosis, which occurs when the arteries harden, and atrial fibrillation, which is a fluttering of the heart. This is one of the most common causes of heart failure and stroke. When it beats irregularly, the heart simply isn’t able to move blood between its chambers as it should. This can cause blood clots that are pumped into the brain, leading to stroke. It can also cause the heart to enlarge, which can cause a heart attack or lead to heart failure.
Since snoring affects a person’s sleep, it can actually be the root cause behind a large number of health issues. Those who are pre-diabetic, for example, may develop full diabetes if they don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can also promote depression, hypertension, and impotence. Pregnant women who suffer from snoring and sleep apnea may give birth prematurely or experience a wide number of other issues during their pregnancy because the body isn’t getting the rest it needs.
Even though the brain is actually waking them up over and over, most people aren’t aware that they are snoring. That’s because these short moments of not getting enough oxygen don’t actually lead to fully waking up. Even when they do, the person no longer snores once they’re awake. For those who have lived alone for years or sleep alone, they may not be aware that there is a problem.
In some cases, they still aren’t aware that snoring is a severe issue. Some people believe that snoring is a sign that they’re sleeping well. Others think it means they were very tired when they went to bed. Even those who have heard of sleep apnea don’t realize that it’s connected to snoring.
Snoring isn’t natural in any way. It’s actually a way for the body to indicate that something is very wrong. In this case, it indicates that the respiratory tract is either partially or completely blocked. Sadly, many people do believe snoring is natural or something that isn’t dangerous.
Snoring can affect anyone. Studies have shown that as many as 16 percent of those who live in Western countries deal with light to severe snoring. In Asian countries, as many as 20 percent of the population has been diagnosed with sleep apnea. This is mainly due to the shape and size of the body. Most Caucasians have larger jaws and shorter necks, which means their airways are more difficult to block.
Those who smoke are at a much higher risk of snoring and sleep apnea. That’s because the harsh chemicals in cigarettes can damage the respiratory tract, causing it to become inflamed. Even using electronic cigarettes can cause inflammation.
The likelihood of snoring actually increases as a person ages, too. Like many other parts of the body, the lining of the respiratory tract actually starts to sag as a person ages. This causes the tract to become narrower, making it easier to get blocked.
If someone has informed you that you snore, what can you do? The first thing you may need to do is to have a sleep study done. In the past, this involved sleeping overnight at a lab while doctors monitored your sleep cycle, breathing, and other vitals. Today, it’s possible to have a sleep study done in your own home. This makes it much easier to sleep naturally. A sleep study will determine exactly how severe your sleep apnea is.
While those who have this disorder may need to use a CPAP machine or other type of oral appliance at night, there are also some lifestyle choices they can make to help reduce or even eliminate their snoring. Stopping smoking will help reduce the risk of a number of diseases and disorders. Those who are overweight may also benefit from losing weight. Increasing the amount of exercise can also help.