If you have a partner or child who snores while sleeping, it may be more than just a nuisance to you. It is important to check for signs of sleep apnea in these cases — a simple diagnosis can lead to a lifetime of benefits… including a quiet, pleasant night of sleep!
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common health condition where there are one or more pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can occur very frequently, sometimes over a hundred pauses per night. After the pause, there may be a loud snort or a choking sound.
Apnea is a condition that should be taken seriously because it can affect a person’s quality of life. Many people connect snoring with sleep apnea, however, not everyone who snores is suffering from apnea.
How do I know if my snoring is related to sleep apnea?
Your partner or another person who is around when you are asleep may be able to tell you if you stop breathing while you sleep. Other common symptoms that are related to sleep apnea can include any of the following:
- Loud snoring
- Short periods of silence while asleep
- Choking or gasping for air
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Waking up feeling like you didn’t sleep at all
- Morning headaches
- Going to the bathroom at night
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of memory
- Decreased libido
- Feeling irritable
Who does sleep apnea affect?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, regardless of age, weight or family history. However, several risk factors point to people who are more likely to experience sleep apnea. These factors can include:
Sleep apnea risk factors can include:
- Weight: Anyone with a BMI over 25 is at a higher risk for sleep apnea
- Wide neck: A large neck has more tissue that can obstruct your airway while sleeping. (A “large” neck is measured at around 17 inches or more for men, and 16 inches or more for women)
- Age: Sleep apnea is more common in those who are middle-aged, although it is possible for it to occur at any age
- Hypertension: Those who have high blood pressure are more likely to also have sleep apnea
- Family history: If you have a family history of sleep apnea, it is more likely that you will also exhibit symptoms that lead to sleep apnea
Who can treat my sleep apnea?
Your doctor or a sleep specialist will be able to diagnose your sleep apnea. In addition, they will be able to give you a course of action that will help you to get better quality sleep. One common action is to sleep with a CPAP machine that helps you breathe more efficiently — there are tons of different options for CPAP machines, CPAP masks and accessories to make your sleep therapy as customized and comfortable as you desire. The days of bulky, scary CPAP masks are long gone!
It is important to find out if your snoring is related to sleep apnea because you are at a higher risk of stroke, diabetes, heart failure, obesity and a host of other challenging health conditions. Find a sleep specialist who can properly diagnose your condition to help you get the support you need for better sleep. Making a small change like using a CPAP machine can have an incredibly positive impact on your life — don’t hesitate to get started on the path to a better night’s sleep!