What is the Socially Unacceptable Snoring Threshold (Criteria)
Snoring can be a common sleep behavior, but did you know that there is actually a criteria to determine if your snoring is problematic? There’s normal or periodic snoring, and then there’s the socially unacceptable snoring (SUS) that you might describe as extreme, over the top or embarrassing snoring. Socially unacceptable snoring describes a person whose snoring may fit many or all of the following:
- Is the source of many family jokes
- Comes with an “earplugs required” caveat for their bed partner
- Will make it hard for people sleeping in adjacent rooms to sleep
- The loudness is the rule, not the exception
- Happens most nights (or every night)
While socially unacceptable snoring might be cause for jokes among friends and family and/or frustration for bed partners, it may actually be a bigger personal problem for the snorer. While bed partner’s sleep might be disrupted, SUS is a primary symptom of a serious medical condition and sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can have significant health consequences.
Knowing the differences and telltale signs between socially unacceptable snoring and SUS caused by sleep apnea are important. Identifying the potential problem underlying your chronic snoring is the first step to getting healthy again.
Non-OSA Causes Socially Unacceptable Snoring
While socially unacceptable snoring may be caused by OSA, it’s important also point out that it can be simply be caused by:
- Being overweight
- Physical characteristics of face/nose/sinuses
- Sleeping on your back
Fixing 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.
Let’s look further at OSA and OSA symptoms.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder and medical condition where you repeatedly stop breathing many times – about 40-100+ times throughout the night. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea.
With OSA, you attempt to breath but are unable to due to some kind of physical ‘obstruction’ in your airway. Namely, this obstruction is caused by the relaxation of your breathing muscles and subsequent blockage by:
- Large tonsils blocking your partially open airway
- Your tongue cleaving to the roof of your mouth and blocking your airway
- Your fully closed airway
Each time this happens, you experience an apnea event or apnea, which is when you stop breathing and eventually rouse awake to begin breathing again. You won’t remember ever waking up during the middle of the night, and it’s your bed partner who will likely notice your repeated apnea events.
In general, OSA often leads to:
- Lower quality of life
- Lower life expectancy
- Medical complications
Mild, Moderate, and Severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Apnea events can happen many times per hour. Here is the general categories used for mild, moderate, and severe OSA:
- Mild OSA: 5-14 apnea events per hour of sleep
- Moderate OSA: 15-30 apnea events per hour of sleep
- Severe OSA: 30+ apneas per hour of sleep
The risks and symptoms are still about the same with mild, moderate, and severe OSA, the only difference may be the prevalence and severity of the symptoms.
Signs Your Socially Unacceptable Snoring is Caused by OSA
Some telltale signs (OSA symptoms) that obstructive sleep apnea is causing socially unacceptable snoring are:
- Bed partner hears snorer repeatedly stop breathing throughout night
- Bed partner hears snorer repeatedly wake up gasping for air
- Snorer wakes up exhausted most days
- Snorer wakes up with headaches most days
- Snorer has many mood disruptions, such as constant irritability
- Snorer has low stress management
- Snorer struggles with depression or anxiety
Bed partners can be instrumental in helping identify when socially unacceptable snoring is 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.
Diagnosing OSA can be a bit trickier without a bed partner, because it involves relying 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, please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test. Afterwards, you will be able to contact our sleep center, get a referral for a sleep study, book the appoint and conduct the study, and receive the results so you can create a treatment plan.
CPAP devices are the mainstay treatment for OSA to stop the snoring, which means a better night for you and anyone sleeping in your vicinity.