Understanding Sleep Apnea & Snoring
Snoring does not always indicate a medical condition, but it can be a sign of serious sleep-disordered breathing, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
What is snoring?
Snoring is a hoarse or harsh sound produced by air passing through relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. Everybody snores now and then, but for some, it is a chronic problem. Snoring does not always indicate a medical condition, but it can be a sign of serious sleep-disordered breathing, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is distinguished by loud snoring followed by a brief period of silence due to a pause in breathing causing reduced oxygen levels and fragmented sleep.
What are the causes of snoring?
Snoring occurs when air cannot flow smoothly through upper air passages. It can also occur when there are anatomical structures in the air passages which vibrate whilst breathing. There may be several causes:
Sleeping on your back — this position allows your tongue to fall backward into your throat and partially block your throat, making a smaller passage for air.
A small lower jaw or a very long soft palate (the soft part of the back of the roof of the mouth) can contribute to the problem.
Blockage in the nose — this can be caused by colds, sinus infections or following an injury that changed the shape of your nose or nasal passages. Enlarged adenoids (tonsil-like tissue at the back of your nose where the nose joins the upper throat) can also cause snoring by blocking the airway and the tissue vibrating when inhaling and exhaling.
Weight gain — Fatty deposits can accumulate under the tissue lining the airway causing the air passages to become smaller. A large heavier chest, along with a sleeping position can increase pressure on the airways, inhibiting inspiration and expiration, i.e. airflow.
Sleeping pills, antihistamines, and pain medication can cause excessive relaxation and can also contribute to snoring.
Consuming alcohol can increase snoring as the sedation effect of alcohol relaxes the body, including the upper airway, contributing to a narrowing of the upper airway
Sleep Apnea is when there are short spells when breathing stops while sleeping.
Snoring which disrupts your sleep due to obstruction in breathing can leave you tired the next day because of frequent arousal in the night. Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing for at least 10 seconds for a 30-second recording time. Anybody having more than 5 episodes of this stoppage of breath per hour on average with other daytime symptoms conforms to obstructive sleep apnea. This insufficient and inefficient sleep can make it difficult to concentrate and complete daily tasks. Long-term complications of untreated sleep apnea can include metabolic disease, enlarged heart, and high blood pressure.
You may be more prone to snoring if you sleep on your back. This happens because the airway is more prone to collapsing due to both internal and external factors (such as the weight of your neck or chest pressing down). Gravity makes it easier for these tissues to migrate into the throat, obstructing adequate airflow. Sleeping on your side may be just what you need to improve your breathing and rest. Studies, including one involving 21 people who snored but did not have sleep apnea, show that sleeping on your side can significantly reduce the amount of time spent snoring and the intensity of snoring.
Preparing for bed and making a few changes to your sleeping habits can help prevent or reduce snoring. You can try the below-mentioned suggestions:
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet pattern.
- Don’t drink alcohol or take sedatives (without consultation with a doctor) right before going to bed.
- Constant sleep times do help a lot to maintain your sleep/wake rhythms.
- Instead of sleeping on your back, try sleeping on your side.
- Facial exercises in form of focused tongue and chin exercises to increase the tone of muscles are helpful in many cases
- Certain medical conditions like hypothyroidism can be caused sometimes for reduced tone/ slow tongue movements causing excessive snoring. If present these are treatable
- Keep your diabetes under control.
Can snoring be cured?
Every heavy snorer does not need treatment however any snorer is a potential obstructive sleep apnea patient. So, if you have loud snoring which disrupts your sleep, causing excessive daytime sleepiness/tiredness, weight gain and inability to engage properly in exercise, uncontrolled hypertension, and frequent arousals at night, you need to see a sleep specialist.
People often do not know where to start. The first step is to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01 213 5644 to discuss your specific concerns and let us help you solve the problem and regain control of your night-time sleep.
Dental Sleep Medicine is an area of clinical expertise that focuses on the management of sleep-related breathing disorders, including snoring, noisy disturbed sleep, sleep apnea, CPAP intolerance a, nd sleep bruxism (teeth grinding), with the design and fitting of customised ooral/dentalappliances. Click here to download the Beacon Dental Sleep Patient Brochure
For further information on Sleep Apnoea Treatment, contact us today
Beacon Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic is based in the Beacon Dental Clinic, Beacon Consultants Clinic, Dublin, D18 E7P4, Ireland
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