Is your partner’s snoring keeping you awake at night? Millions of men and women of all ages – and even many children – snore. The sound of “sawing logs” can be annoying, but it can also signal sleep apnea, a more serious sleep disorder. Nearly half of all snorers have obstructive sleep apnea.
People who snore rarely realize they do unless their weary-eyed bed partner tells them. Even those with sleep apnea are usually unaware of their problem. If you are the one lying awake at night with earplugs, there are clues whether your loved one’s snoring is just snoring or sleep apnea.
Snoring occurs when the muscles of your throat relax and your tongue falls backward, causing the walls of your throat to vibrate. The smaller the airway gets, the louder the sound. Obstructive sleep apnea goes even further: the throat closes completely causing breathing to stop and start repeatedly during the night.
You are more likely to snore or have obstructive sleep apnea if you:
A snorer usually stays asleep, but someone with sleep apnea may wake up for brief periods throughout the night (usually with no memory of the awakening). Other symptoms of sleep apnea: pauses in breathing while sleeping, choking sensations at night, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, morning headaches, dry mouth or throat and weight gain.
Snoring and sleep apnea, in particular, have been linked with other health and personal problems.
Whether you’re the one snoring, or your loved one is keeping you awake, don’t lose another moment’s sleep. Seek help from your health care provider and get a sound, refreshing night’s sleep.