Snoring Your Way to an Early Grave
A partner who snores can be an impediment to getting a good night’s sleep. But, did you know that it can also be a sign of sleep apnea? All snoring is not sleep apnea, but when the snoring stops for a moment and there is a pause in breathing followed by a loud snort or choking sound, then it is likely sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition where an individual’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It can have deadly repercussions.
According to Dr. Sanjay Jaswani, “Often times sleep apnea is caused by how your neck and throat change when you’re sleeping. Your muscle tone relaxes and all of the soft tissue collapses on your airway. You are basically depriving yourself of oxygen while you’re sleeping. When you wake up you have a headache, a dry mouth, and you feel terrible.”
You are being jerked out of the deep restorative sleep and spend more time in light sleep. You end up with daytime sleepiness. This sluggishness can result in an increased risk of accidents, poor concentration, and slow reflexes.
If left untreated, sleep apnea may worsen many different health issues including high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, ADHD, and heart conditions such as irregular heartbeat, heart attack, and heart failure. In fact, according to Dr. Jaswani, “Obstructive sleep apnea is a big problem with hypertension because, even though you are taking your blood pressure medications, you can’t get it under control. In fact, the real problem is the obstructive sleep apnea. “
There is a significant catch-22 centered around sleep apnea: Obesity and weight gain. Weight gain can bring on sleep apnea for several reasons, not the least of which is the increase in neck size. While at the same time, sleep apnea can lead to weight gain. It’s a deadly cycle.
With treatment, you can control the symptoms and regain control over your sleep. You will quickly realize what you’ve been missing out on when you are refreshed and alert every day. Your primary care physician can speak with you about sleep apnea and make recommendations about the best course of treatment for your particular situation. In the interim, try sleeping on your side. For obstructive sleep apnea, this simple change to your routine can often help keep your airway open and help you get a restful night of sleep.