Your sleep impacts every aspect of your health and daily life. Sleeping well helps you look, feel and perform your best. But a sleep problem can be harmful to your health and well-being. One of the most common sleep problems is snoring. Learn more about the warning signs and how you can get help.
Snoring is a sound that occurs during sleep when soft tissue in the upper airway vibrates as you breathe. Snoring is extremely common in men, but also occurs frequently in women, especially during pregnancy and after menopause. Obesity, nasal obstruction, alcohol and smoking all increase the risk of snoring.
The sound of snoring tends to be most disturbing to a bed partner or roommate, but loud snoring can wake the person who snores, too. Loud and frequent snoring is a common sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
How is Snoring Diagnosed?
A doctor must determine if your snoring is a sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea. A doctor who is a sleep specialist can provide you with a complete sleep evaluation. This may involve either an overnight sleep study at a sleep center or a home sleep apnea test. The sleep doctor will interpret the data from your sleep study to make a diagnosis.
How is Snoring Treated?
Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral sleep appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.Oral appliances are quiet, portable and easy to care for.
Losing weight, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and sleeping on your side also can help reduce snoring. If you and your doctor decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then your doctor will write a prescription for you to receive a custom-made oral appliance. You also will receive a referral to a qualified dentist who can provide oral appliance therapy.
Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans.
Sleep apnea symptoms and signs are often an indication that your health is being negatively effected. Maybe someone has told you your snore is deafening, or you’ve woken up on more than your fair share of mornings feeling less than refreshed. In those instances, it’s probably pretty obvious something’s up with your sleep. But in the case of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a disorder wherein people stop breathing while asleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night, pinpointing the problem can be significantly trickier. We’ve compiled the list of signs and symptoms of sleep apnea below to hopefully make pinpointing easier.
One of the most common signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is loud and chronic (ongoing) snoring. Pauses may occur in the snoring. Choking or gasping may follow the pauses. These brief periods of breathing cessation don’t trigger full alertness, but disrupt sleep enough to leave sufferers groggy in the mornings — and at risk for a number of more serious health problems, often without even realizing there’s a problem. You likely won’t know that you’re having problems breathing or be able to judge how severe the problem is. A family member or bed partner often will notice these problems before you do.
However, it is important to note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
Major Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Signs
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Sleepiness while driving
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
- Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
- You have diabetes or other health problems*
Others sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- Dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up
- Weight gain
Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious and life-shortening consequences: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, automobile accidents caused by falling asleep at the wheel, diabetes, depression, and other ailments.