What is Snoring?
Snoring is a sign of a breathing problem and is different and distinguishable from Sleep Apnea. Snoring occurs when the airway is partially blocked by jaw / tongue / throat / muscle tone issues, whereby the inhaled air is forced through a smaller opening, creating noise (snoring). Sleep apnea is complete blockage. Snoring can affect your quality of life and can be embarrassing or inconvenient. Snoring can cause problems in relationships when perhaps the partner’s earplugs or their pillow-over-the-head isn’t enough anymore. If you snore, you may not have sleep apnea. For many, snoring is a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – a serious medical problem.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Over 18 million Americans are diagnosed with OSA.
OSA occurs when the muscles around the throat /airway collapse completely, blocking airflow to the lungs. Oxygen supply is cut off to the body and brain, sometimes for a long time – even hundreds of times a night. The obstruction persists until the brain awakes (arouses). The brain may awaken, but you may not, and are unaware. Your sleep architecture and sleep stages are disrupted (Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and REM sleep). Often your brain awakens, but you are unaware this is happening. Sleep Apnea is obviously more complex than just loud snoring. Sometimes you may awaken unexplainably, perhaps with air-starved panicky gasps and in “fight-or-flight” mode. You stay in Stage 1 or 2 sleep …unhealthy!
With OSA, this cycle repeats with you falling asleep, airway muscles relaxing, airway then collapsing, you unconsciously awakening, sometimes with a gasp. This can happen hundreds of times a night, which prevents a restful night of sleep because of oxygen deprivation (hypoxia). Hypoxia happens, and damage occurs over time. OSA can destroy your health a number of ways. Since you don’t fully awaken, you are not aware this is happening.