If you snore, you’re not alone. The American Sleep Apnea Foundation estimates that you’re in the company of about 90 million Americans.
Most probably don’t even know it, and the most serious consequence is dealing with a tired, irritable partner the next day.
Snoring doesn’t immediately mean you have sleep apnea. If you’re waking up every day feeling well-rested, energized, and can make it through the day without needing a nap, your snoring probably isn’t anything to worry about.
But if you’re feeling zonked, unable to focus, and your eight hours feel far more than that, sleep apnea could be a possibility.
Snoring happens when there’s a narrowing in your upper airway. Tissue in the back of your throat can relax during sleep and drop down, partially blocking the airway. The sound it produces is the air rattling the tissue while you breathe.
Sleep apnea causes sufferers to actually stop breathing. It can happen hundreds of times a night and last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a minute. They also lead to “mircoawakenings” that you may not feel at the time but ultimately lead to fatigue the next day.
If you’re nodding off during the day, even after what you think was a full night’s sleep, you could be experiencing sleep disruption caused by sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is also associated with higher risks of illness like heart problems, type-2 diabetes, and more.
On the other hand, snoring may have to do with some lifestyle and personal factors. For example, sleeping on your back could increase the chance of snoring. Other factors include taking certain medications, alcohol, congestion, smoking, and obesity.
Most snorers don’t have sleep apnea. If your sleeping partner complains of snoring, but you’re feeling fine, try looking at some of the factors that may be contributing. If you feel tired, talk to your doctor about an evaluation for sleep apnea.