Snoring: Harmless Nuisance or Serious Health Risk?

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 90 million Americans snore while sleeping. If you’re one of these individuals, you might be the occasional brunt of jokes at social gatherings. Your significant other may also frequently scold you for hindering his or her sleep.

If you’ve snored for decades, you might simply view these inconveniences as par for the course. But, is snoring really a harmless nuisance? Or, could this common activity pose a serious health risk? The answer might both surprise and alarm you.

Occasional snoring usually doesn’t raise health concerns. Unfortunately, habitual snoring can negatively impact both your sleep quality and your health. Even more troubling, WebMD reports that approximately 75 percent of people who snore regularly have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a chronic health issue that can make you experience stoppages in your breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping. When sleep apnea sufferers go to sleep, they can quit breathing for periods of a few seconds to more than a minute. Sleep apnea can occur, or worsen, due to obesity, the aging process, neck and head shape, and a large tongue and tonsils.

According to Everyday Health, people who have sleep apnea are 40 percent more likely to die early than those who don’t have this disorder. This serious sleep problem is associated with numerous health risks. Sleep apnea is linked to both high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Prolonged sleep apnea might also cause your heart to become enlarged. People who have long-term snoring or sleep apnea face an elevated risk of succumbing to an irregular heart rhythm, also referred to as arrhythmia.

Studies have found that people suffering from sleep apnea are more probable to experience episodes of atrial fibrillation, the most prevalent kind of arrhythmia, than those without it or people whose sleep apnea is being treated with a continuous positive airway pressure, CPAP, machine. Astoundingly, data implies that sleep apnea patients are twice as likely to experience both nonfatal heart disease events and deadly heart attacks.

Sleep apnea patients frequently suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD. The discomforting symptoms of GERD include heartburn, chest pain, vomiting of food or sour liquid, difficulty swallowing, a chronic cough, laryngitis, and disrupted sleep. In addition to episodes of GERD, those with sleep apnea might suffer from nocturia.

Nocturia is a condition characterized by getting out of bed in order to use the bathroom two or more times every night. Studies indicate that men past the age of 55 who wake up frequently to urinate might suffer from both sleep apnea and benign prostate enlargement.

If you wake up with a headache often, snoring might be to blame. A published research study involving 268 participants who were habitual snorers suggest a link between regular morning headaches and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia.

Snoring can also negatively impact intimacy. In a study, researchers analyzed the frequency and loudness of snoring in 827 older men. Results imply men who snore often and loudly experience decreased levels of sexual satisfaction, even when a clinical analysis of their health displays no physiological signs of decreased sexual response.

Long-term, frequent snoring, and especially sleep apnea, pose serious, potentially life threatening risks. If you or someone you love snores regularly, consider being evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible. Fortunately, some people can end years of disruptive snoring through completely natural solutions including:

Changing sleep positions

  • Abstaining from alcohol
  • Losing weight
  • Changing pillows
  • Staying hydrated

When you lie on your back, the base of your tongue and your soft palate give way to the back of your throat. This causes you to make a vibrating sound during your sleep. Becoming a side-sleeper might prevent this phenomenon.

Alcohol diminishes the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat. When this occurs, you’re chances of snoring increase. Even people who don’t normally snore may do so after drinking alcohol.

If you’re overweight, dropping some pounds might alleviate snoring. When people have larger necks, the extra weight squeezes the internal diameter of their throats. This increases the odds your throat will collapse during sleep and initiate snoring.

When dust mites accumulate in your pillow, they can trigger allergic reactions that can cause snoring. To keep dust mites at bay, put your pillow in the dryer and set it on the air fluff cycle at least once every two weeks. Change your pillow a minimum of two times per year.

When you’re not drinking enough fluids, secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier. This problem can lead to excessive snoring. So, load up on water throughout the day to stay hydrated and potentially prevent bothersome snoring.

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