The Dangers of Snoring

Did You Know…that snoring is far more than a common annoyance—and that it could seriously threaten your health?

No one likes to admit they snore, but many of us do.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 90 million adults in the United States snore.  And of those, 37 million snore chronically.

Many of us may have a stereotyped image of a “snorer,” but the truth is, this common problem affects all ages and genders, and it can have deadly consequences.

Snoring:  A Symptom of Danger to Come 

First things first:  although snoring is common, it’s not healthy or normal.  Snoring results from a specific set of causes.  One way to think of it is as a signal from your body that something is wrong.

Perhaps the most common—and dangerous—cause of snoring is a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  “Apnea” is a Greek word meaning “without breath.” Individuals with OSA and other types of sleep apnea can be “without breath” up to 100 times per night, for up to 60 seconds each time.

For those with OSA, the issue occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse into the back of the throat, which restricts or entirely closes off airflow.  When breathing completely stops, it’s called an “apneic event.”  Apneic events often trigger the fight-or-flight response;  some OSA patients even described leaping from bed in a dazed panic with the belief that they were drowning.

Many Sufferers Are Unaware 

Although OSA occurs most frequently in middle-aged men with heavy-set necks and shoulders, it can affect anyone.  Statistics from the National Institutes of Health show that more than 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.  But since sleep apnea is extraordinarily difficult to diagnose, the total number of sufferers is likely higher.

Despite the constant interruptions to their sleep, which may even cause them to wake up choking or gasping for air, those with sleep apnea are often wholly unaware of their condition.

Each of those moments of oxygen deprivation exerts extreme stress on the heart.  Over time, your overall risk of heart conditions can rise significantly.  OSA sufferers are 30% more likely to have a heart attack.

Sleep apnea robs your body of both sleep and oxygen—two essentials for good health.  Other medical consequences linked to sleep apnea include…

  • Hypertension
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis

The Biggest Danger?  Secret Snoring 

The biggest dangers are faced by the many people who don’t know they’re at risk!  If you typically sleep alone, or share your bed with a heavy sleeper, you may not be aware that you snore.  These daytime clues can indicate nighttime distress…

  • Excessive fatigue
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Waking with a feeling of confusion
  • Heartburn
  • Sore or dry throat

If you’re experiencing any of those symptoms, there are steps you can take to alleviate any snoring or sleep apnea you may be experiencing.

The top medical interventions for sleep apnea are nasal masks…jaw splints…and surgery.  Not appealing, especially for those affected by a more mild set of symptoms.  Fortunately, there are interventions you can take now to manage—and even eliminate—those symptoms.  An excellent place to begin is to develop good sleeping habits.

Experts recommend sleeping on your side, allotting adequate time to achieve quality rest, and developing and adhering to a bedtime and sleep schedule.  Experts say to try these strategies, and see if you notice a difference in the morning.