The Truth About Snoring

Posted on Mar 16, 2018

Snoring is a common problem among all ages and genders. About 45% of normal adults snore at least occasionally. We often joke about it, and frequently envy people who snore, thinking that they are really good sleepers.

But should we really be envious of them? What are some common misconceptions we have about snoring?

#1. Snoring is normal

               Snoring indicates passage of air through a narrowed airway. While occasional snoring may not be a cause for worry, habitual snoring is a strong indicator of a sleep disorder known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Sleep apnea patients suffer from repeated pauses of breathing during sleep resulting in low oxygenation and poor sleep.

#2. Snoring is tantamount to deep sleep

               It is common for us to equate snoring with deep sleep. However, the reverse may be true. In snorers with obstructive sleep apnea, sleep is often fragmented and light. Thus, it is not unusual for these individuals to complain of unrefreshing sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness.

#3. “I only snore when I’m tired or drunk/tipsy.”

               While snoring and sleep apnea may worsen with alcohol and when an individual is particularly tired, it can occur even in their absence. Sleep apnea patients may not be aware of their problem but their bed partners definitely are!

#4. “I’m the snorer, others shouldn’t be affected by it.”

               Snoring/sleep apnea can be a third wheel in the bedroom. It is a shared problem that can negatively affect the patients’ and partners’ sleep, quality of life, and relationship. Studies have shown that couples who struggle with sleep apnea have higher divorce rates. Sleep apnea has been related to sexual dysfunction. Some partners report decreased sexual activity due to excessive sleepiness or as a result of “home treatments” like sleeping in separate bedrooms cutting back on their chance of intimacy. In addition, complications of sleep apnea like hypertension and diabetes can also trigger erectile dysfunction. Thus, sleeping with a snorer is not only annoying but is likewise unhealthy for the marital bed.

#5. “My child will eventually outgrow his snoring.”

Twenty percent of normal children snore from time to time. Again, this may not be a cause for worry unless the child has other symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea. These include: snoring loudly and frequently; pauses in breathing; gasping, snorting or completely waking up after a pause in breathing; labored breathing during sleep; restless sleep;  unusual positions during sleep such as hyperextended neck with mouth hanging open; daytime sleepiness; behavioral problems during the day; inattention; or hyperactivity. If suspicion of sleep apnea is strong, it is best to consult your doctor rather than wait for your child to “outgrow his snoring”. Untreated sleep apnea can result in complications such as delayed growth, high blood pressure and heart failure, and school and social problems.