Snoring can be a nuisance to your partner, but it is often a sign of a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when you have such significant upper airway obstruction that your body has to work very hard to pull in oxygen. With less oxygen in your blood stream, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your tissues. When your heart works harder, your body is in a constant state of stress, so it releases more stress hormones (cortisol) while you sleep. Excess cortisol makes your body hold onto fat and prevents regeneration that should occur during restful sleep. Over time, this increased stress taxes your heart, leading to heart disease and high blood pressure, and your endocrine system, leading to adrenal fatigue and diabetes.
Not all snorers have sleep apnea, but they are all at risk of developing it. Indicators of sleep apnea are:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty functioning and concentrating
- Gasping for air
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime chest pain
- Waking yourself up
- Easily falling asleep but difficulty staying asleep
- Gasping or choking during the night
- Sore or dry throat
Treating Sleep Apnea is Important Because It Can Lead To:
- High blood pressure-the consistent lack of oxygen in the blood causes a rise in blood pressure and strain on the cardiovascular system.
- Heart attack-the increased strain on the heart can result in heart attack and irregular heartbeats.
- Stroke– increasing blood pressure levels raise the sufferer’s risk of stroke.
- Obesity– Sleep apnea also impairs our ability to utilize insulin and leads to excess cortisol, making it difficult to lose weight. Obesity also causes upper airway obstruction, so it is a cause as well as a symptom.
- Difficulty functioning, staying awake– Poor oxygenation can seriously impact brain function. Even if you sleep for many hours, if you are struggling to breathe your body is functionally sleep deprived.
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Breaking the cycle of sleep apnea means addressing all of its outcomes, but most importantly, bypassing the obstruction as soon as possible. Please refer to snoring treatments as well.
Airway obstruction treatments:
- Oral appliance – A mouthpiece custom made by a dentist to reposition the jaw in a forward position to keep the tongue from collapsing back into the airway.
- CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) – This treatment involves wearing a nasal or facial mask while you sleep that is attached to a machine that forces air past your nose and mouth, pushing collapsed tissues out of the way.
- Surgery –