In traditional movies, television shows, and cartoons, the most practical way to show that a character was fast asleep was to have him snore, either audibly or with a long string of Z’s rising from his mouth in the case print characters. But what was once considered a sign that one was slumbering away has been determined by sleep medicine specialists to show the opposite: that one is actually in a lighter, less restful state of sleep due to one or more conditions, with sleep apnea being the most common. Does your bed partner complain about your severe snoring? If so, it could be you and not your partner who’s getting the short end of the stick.
Severe Snoring can be More than Inconvenient
A complaining bed partner is the most common reason people seek treatment for their snoring. But when they arrive at their physician’s office, they often discover something they didn’t expect: they could be suffering from sleep apnea, which increases the risk of the following health conditions: hypertension, heart failure, heart rhythm disturbances, heart disease,insulin resistance, and stroke. Untreated apnea causes daytime sleepiness and is known to increase risk of accidents due to diminished cognitive functioning and reduced vigilance. To avoid these and other health risks, it’s important to assess whether your snoring is the result of apnea as soon as possible.
The determination of apnea usually involves a two-part process: a sleep medicine consultation with a Board-Certified Sleep physician, and an overnight appointment at a sleep clinic to undergo a Polysomnography, or a sleep study. Treatment for obstructive apnea most often consists of mechanical therapies, such as CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure, lifestyle changes, or any combination thereof. In addition to snoring, common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include depression, memory difficulties, morning headaches, poor concentration, frequently waking up to urinate, erectile dysfunction, and fitful sleep.