If you think the effects of snoring are restricted only to your own embarrassment and the discomfort of your sleeping partner, think again. Snoring can be your body’s way of literally sounding the trumpet. It could be warning of a serious health problem that you may not realise you have. Loud and regular snoring can be related to various serious illnesses including being a symptom of sleep apnea, a chronic and dangerous sleep disorder. It interrupts your night-time breathing many times every night, causing you to stop breathing for anything from seconds to minutes multiple times during a night’s sleep.
Why People Snore
Less than half of those who snore, are “primary snorers”, inhaling loudly because the air flow in the nose or throat becomes obstructed when the throat tissues relax. This sets in motion a vibration in the tissues in the throat and nose which in turn creates a sound. The level of sound can range from a soft purring and rhythmic sound, to a blast of deafening noise. Either way, it disrupts your normal breathing and sleep pattern – and that of your sleeping partner.
What causes this to happen? There are many reasons why this obstruction and vibration pattern can be set in motion. Various factors are involved, including congestion, swelling, inflammation and irritation, or a build-up of slack fatty tissue. It can also be related to allergies, the position you choose to sleep in and your family tree, as researchers have discovered that snoring could be a hereditary problem. However, the most common causes are being overweight, having a smoking habit, and drinking alcohol, particularly if that is done close to bedtime.
Health Impacts of Snoring
Not all snorers do so every night. However, when they do, they can wake up 27 times (on average), and cause their sleeping partners to wake up about 21 times. This breaks down to an average of every 20 minutes, and that’s far more wake-up calls than a new-born baby makes. Understandably, this is not just a question of having a restless night. If it goes on regularly, it is going to have a serious impact on sleeping patterns and may become a fully blown sleep disorder.
Most snorers don’t even know they snore, nor that they have been waking up so many times in the night, because these wake-up calls are brief. However, they are still enough to impact on you and your partner, making it more difficult to reach the “Slow-Wave Sleep” which is the treasure trove of sleep time. It’s that deep sleep that both replenishes your energy and allows the body to do its own form of routine maintenance.
It’s therefore not surprising that snoring impacts on how you (and your partner) feel the next day. The consequences can be waking up with a very dry mouth, a headache, or feeling very tired and irritable. Regular snoring can disturb your sleeping pattern and result in these uncomfortable mornings becoming routine.
When Snoring gets Really Serious
Many people do not know that their snoring could be linked to sleep apnea, which in turn has links to other diseases and syndromes. The consequences of this alliance can lead to a horror list of problems. And while some of them might be uncomfortable but bearable, there are others which can endanger not only your comfort and quality of life, but your life itself. These include:
- Strokes. Loud, long and intense bouts of snoring can indicate a fatty plaque build-up in the arteries in the neck. This build-up makes them narrower and can cause an obstruction in the air flow.
- Blood pressure problems as a result of narrowed arteries.
- Heart disease: Research has shown links between sleep apnea and cardiovascular and coronary artery disease, and indicates that the chances of nonfatal and fatal heart attacks increase. Regular snoring over the long-term can also impact of the heart’s rhythm, causing an irregular pattern.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is fairly common in snorers, especially when sleep apnea is the cause of the snoring or the snorer is overweight. GERD results when the throat closure and disrupted airways cause a pressure change, creating suction on the stomach contents.
- Regular headaches
- Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, irritability and aggression can result from prolonged sleep deprivation and the resultant reduction in the amount of oxygen reaching your brain. These results can affect not only the snorer’s life, but that of their sleeping partner, whose sleeping patterns are equally disturbed.
- Intense daytime sleepiness, which can lead to accidents and injury, particularly when you are driving a car.
Determining whether or not your snoring is connected to other diseases, disorders or syndromes is very important, particularly if you find you do have sleep apnea so that you can get treatment. If your snoring is just that – primary, simple or habitual snoring - it does not mean you or your partner, are off the hook and can leave things be. Primary or simple snoring leads to discomfort as well as some if not all of the health threats mentioned, particularly when it comes to fatigue, depression, anxiety and discomfort. Many devices are now available – one of them may help you and your partner sleep well.
If you want to quit snoring once and for all read our reviews of Top Anti-Snoring Devices - Here.