Sleep Apnea

What’s the Deal with Snoring?

Snoring is annoying, both to the snorer and the person sleeping next to him or her. But it could be a sign of a more serious condition.

Chronic, loud snoring disturbs the snorer’s sleep and leads to fatigue and daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep can slow your neural and motor responses, incite memory difficulties, and reduce your performance and concentration at work and while driving. Snoring may also indicate a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition caused by a blocked airway near the base of the tongue.

Serious sleep apnea starts when snoring stops – along with your breathing. Sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing for periods of time, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer.

When you stop breathing, your brain wakes you up, which usually results in a loud gasp and a resumption of snoring. This repeated cessation of breath and consequent waking can have a devastating effect on health. The oxygen in your blood can become depleted. There is even evidence that sleep apnea can worsen fibromyalgia and trigger hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you certainly aren’t alone: Obstructive sleep apnea affects more than 20 million Americans.

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