Most of us are guilty of snoring at some stage. But is it just an annoying disruption to other people’s sleep, or a sign of something more serious?
How common is snoring?
If you snore when you sleep, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that around 40% of men and 30% of women have at least mild snoring on some nights, with around 15% of people snoring on most nights.
Usually snoring is an inconvenience — to those who sleep near a snorer! But in some cases, snoring can be a sign of a condition called sleep apnoea.
Why do we snore
Snoring happens when part of your throat (the pharynx, which is located behind the tongue) vibrates. While you’re awake, the pharynx is help open by small muscles. However, these muscles relax during sleep which causes the airway to narrow. When we breathe in through this narrowed airway the air vibrates, which causes the snoring sound.
Some people snore because they have a smaller airway than normal. But other causes of snoring include:
- being overweight
- allergies or nasal congestion
- swollen adenoids or tonsils (usually in children)
- overeating or drinking alcohol before bedtime
- some medications
- sleeping on your back
- other physical factors (e.g. deformed nose, swollen mouth, etc.).
When you should be concerned about snoring
Most of the time, snoring only impacts those around you — and the way you manage that is up to you! However, snoring is also a symptom of a serious condition called sleep apnoea or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
OSA is characterised by repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the throat while you’re asleep, which can cause you to stop breathing for anywhere from 10 seconds to one minute. These episodes can occur throughout the night, sometimes hundreds of times, without you realising. People with sleep apnoea usually wake up snorting, or gasping for air, only to fall immediately back to sleep.
Risks to your health
Sleep apnoea causes interrupted sleep, which can leave you feeling tired, lethargic, grumpy and irritable. However, it can also have some more serious effects on your health.
Left untreated, sleep apnoea increases your risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. It also increases your risk of:
- poor memory and concentration
- changes in mood and depression
- reduced sex drive and impotence in men.
What should you do?
If your partner mentions you snore, choke or gasp during the night, or if you wake up feeling tired and lethargic, despite having (what you think is) a good nights’ sleep, speak to your doctor.
It’s important to diagnose sleep apnoea via a sleep study. Any treatment you may require will depend upon the results of the study, which will significantly reduce your risk of health issues associated with OSA.
In the meantime, you can make sure that you’re well supported while you sleep with the right mattress. BedGuard has a range of mattresses to suit everyone — whether you’re a regular snorer or an occasional one. Feel free to browse our range today.