You turn on the game and ease back in your recliner. Before you know it, you are drifting off for a nap.
That’s when your spouse decides to do some vacuuming. You give your partner a look. You try to go back to watching the game but … you drift off again …
Until the vacuum cleaner starts again! What is going on?
This happens one more time before you finally let your spouse know how frustrating it is to be woken up just when you are about to go to sleep.
“Good,” your spouse replies. You can’t help noticing the anger just below the surface. “Now you understand what your snoring is like for me every night.”
Hopefully, you and your spouse will be more cordial in addressing the elephant in the room — your snoring — and discussing what you can do about it.
We would suggest making an appointment at Hillcrest Family Dentistry if you live in or near Medford, OR. Your snoring could be a symptom of sleep apnea.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Loud, frequent snoring may be the most well-known symptom of sleep apnea, but it that snoring is a side effect of a bigger issue.
You stop breathing when you fall asleep.
Apnea is derived from a Greek word that means “without breath.” People who have mild — and we stress mild — sleep apnea may stop breathing up to 14 times per hour when they are asleep.
These breathing stoppages can last from 10 to 30 seconds. If your spouse has been kept awake by your snoring, then he or she has probably noticed these breathing stoppages, too.
Try to imagine what that must be like for your spouse. First, you can’t sleep because the love of your life won’t stop snoring, and second, you have to listen to the love of your life stop breathing over and over again.
Sleep apnea is a considered a sleep disorder because it interferes with normal sleep patterns. A typical cycle starts with light sleep, then moves into deep sleep, and then REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is the stage when we dream.
When you stop breathing, your brain goes into survival mode. Since these stoppages occur when you are asleep, your body will wake you up long enough to take a few breaths before you drift off again.
You probably don’t remember any of these brief awakenings, but they are effectively preventing you from getting the deep, healthy sleep that health experts think that all people need.
So Why Is Your Snoring So Loud?
The most common form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. That’s obstructive as in obstruction, as is something blocking your airways.
In this case, it is often soft tissues that collapse into your airway when your muscles relax when you fall asleep.
When your airways are partially blocked this can amplify the sound of your snoring. That’s not good for anyone trying to sleep just a few feet away from you.
Believe it or not, some people even snore so loud that they wake themselves up.
How Sleep Apnea Is Treated
First and foremost, you should confirm that you have sleep apnea. You can do this by completing a sleep study. We can help by providing you with a machine to conduct a study in your own home.
Many times people with sleep apnea are prescribed a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machine. The user wears a mask over his or her nose or nose and mouth, and the machine pushes to keep their airways open.
When used correctly, this allows the user to continue breathing so he or she can sleep through the night.
Some people find that the CPAP creates new problem. The sound of the machine keeps them awake. The mask irritates their face, or the hose that connects the machine to the masks makes it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position.
If the CPAP doesn’t work for you, then we may be able to create mouthpiece that you can wear while you sleep. This mouthpiece shifts the position of your jaw in a way that keeps your airways open, again, so you can breathe.
It may take a little time to get used to sleeping with the mouthpiece, but it should help you sleep better (and snore less) in the long run.
Enjoy The Game
We forgot to mention that daytime sleepiness is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. That could explain why you drift off when you try to watch the game.
By treating your sleep apnea, you can wake up feeling rested, your spouse can get the sleep that he or she needs, and you may even get to enjoy the whole game.
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