Chronic Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Chronic, “socially unacceptable” snoring could just be something that is the cause of jokes in your family. It could also be sign that you have obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder and medical condition. Loud, chronic snoring is one of the primary symptoms of OSA, and is often one of the first signs that something isn’t quite right about one’s sleeping.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder and medical condition where you repeatedly stop breathing many time throughout the night. Each time you stop breathing you have to wake up to start breathing again, though you won’t remember waking up in the morning. Each stop-start breathing cycle is called an apnea event, and can happen with the following severities:
This process can happen many times per hour:
- Mild OSA: 5-14 apneas per hour of sleep
- Moderate OSA: 15-30 apneas per hour of sleep
- Severe OSA: 30+ apneas per hour of sleep
If you do the math, you find that in severe cases you wake up at least 240 times per night (assuming 8 hours of sleep). OSA causes moderate to severe sleep deprivation, which can significantly lower your quality of life and health.
If you chronically snore in ways that are loud and disruptive, you might look a little closer as obstructive sleep apnea and other potential root causes of your snoring. It could just be snoring, or it could be a serious medical disorder.
What Causes Snoring
Snoring doesn’t always mean you have OSA. Chronic, loud snoring can be caused by any number of things, such as:
- Being overweight
- Sleeping on your back
Treating your snoring can be as simple as learning to sleep on your back, or it could mean getting a sleep study, diagnoses, and wearing a CPAP device.
When Snoring is a Personal Problem, Not Just a Nuisance
Part of identifying the root cause of your snoring is evaluating how bad your snoring is:
- Is your or your partner’s snoring the primer for family jokes?
- Does your loud snoring require your bed partner to wear ear plugs?
- Is your snoring the rule, not the exception?
Snoring like this can be a significant sign that you have OSA. Let’s look at other potential signs that appear in conjunction with chronic, loud snoring.
Signs Snoring is Caused by Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Other telltale signs of signs of obstructive sleep apnea are:
- Bed partner hears you repeatedly stop breathing throughout night, following by gasping/choking
- Wake up exhausted
- Wake up with headaches
- Mood disruptions such as constant irritability
- Low stress management
- Struggles with depression or anxiety
OSA can cause severe sleep deprivation with numerous and serious medical consequences
Risk factors go up for sleep apnea if you:
- Are obese
- Have diabetes
Diagnosing Snoring as Being Caused By Sleep Apnea
Bed partners can be instrumental in helping you identify that your snoring may be caused by OSA. As many bed partners can attest to, they could sit and count the seconds while their untreated OSA partner doesn’t breath throughout the night.
This can be a bit trickier without a bed partner, because you will have to identify other OSA symptoms that you may or may not be struggling with. If you live in Alaska and are concerned that you have OSA, getting a diagnoses is straightforward:
- Contact our sleep center or your healthcare practitioner
- Get a referral to get a sleep study (usually covered by insurance)
- Book appointment and conduct sleep study
- Our sleep center sends the results to your healthcare practitioner, who will discuss treatment options
CPAP devices as a treatment for OSA stop the snoring, which means a better night for you and anyone sleeping in your vicinity. Consult with us for more information - start by taking this free online sleep test: