SNORING AND SLEEP

Overview

snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. It is a common problem among all ages and both genders. Snoring may occur nightly or intermittently. Persons most at risk are males and those who are overweight, but snoring is a problem of both genders, although it is possible that women do not present with this complaint as frequently as men. Snoring usually becomes more serious as people age. It can cause disruptions to your own sleep and your bed-partner’s sleep. It can lead to fragmented and un-refreshing sleep which translates into poor daytime function (tiredness and sleepiness). The two most common adverse health effects that are believed to be casually linked to snoring are daytime dysfunction.

While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow and “floppy.” As you breathe, the walls of the throat begin to vibrate – generally when you breathe in, but also, to a lesser extent, when you breathe out. These vibrations lead to the characteristic sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring. Sometimes the walls of the throat collapse completely so that it is completely occluded, creating a condition called apnea (cessation of breathing). This is a serious condition which requires medical attention.

TREATMENT:

Snorers are generally unaware of their snoring, and must rely on the observations of their bed-partners. Some snorers may wake up at night choking and gasping for breath, but this occurs relatively infrequently. If you have been told that your snoring is disturbing to others, or you have some of the symptoms and signs listed above, consult your doctor. He or she will take your history, perform a physical exam and will determine whether you require a consultation with a sleep specialist and a sleep test to determine if you have sleep apnea and to see how your snoring affects your sleep quality.

Depending on the results of the sleep study, you will be presented with a series of options to treat snoring. These will generally include:

  1. lifestyle modification (i.e. avoidance of risk factors mentioned above, sleep position training if applicable, treatment of allergies if applicable, etc…);
  2. surgery (generally on the back of the throat and roof of the mouth, or the nose if applicable, using a variety of instruments including scalpel, laser, or microwaves);
  3. appliances (mainly oral appliances constructed by a dentist experienced in treatment of snoring and sleep apnea, but also other appliances such as nasal dilators);
  4. and sometimes CPAP (a continuous positive airway pressure appliance which blows room air into the back of the throat thus preventing it from collapse).

The latter method is the treatment of choice for sleep apnea. If you are diagnose

SYMPTOMS:

People who snore make a vibrating, rattling, noisy sound while breathing during sleep. It may be a symptom of sleep apnea. Consult your doctor if you snore and have any of the following symptoms or signs:

  1. Excessive daytime sleepiness
  2. Morning headaches
  3. Recent weight gain
  4. Awakening in the morning not feeling rested
  5. Awaking at night feeling confused
  6. Change in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
  7. Observed pauses in breathing during sleep