Many of us remember Dad stretched out on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon, finally getting a well-deserved nap. Some of us remember his slumber with occasional snoring. Others may recall loud, window-rattling snores that our Mom amazingly endured nightly (which may have eventually parted them to separate bedrooms).
Heavy snoring is an unpleasant sound that causes misery to others within earshot. The sound can be so great that it’s amazing how a person cannot be awakened by their own snoring. I’ve known golf buddies who would require the heavy snorer of the bunch to get his own room on annual golf trips because no one was willing to share a room.
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that snoring is a problem of 90 million adults in the U.S. with 37 million who are frequent snorers. Although both males and females can have the problem, men tend to snore most often along with adults who are overweight.
While it may seem that it is the snoring person who is getting sound sleep and not the bed partner, it can also cause snorers to have fragmented and reduced sleep quality. This often leads to daytime fatigue and lack of alertness. Even worse, it is estimated that about 50 percent of adults who snore loudly also have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The intensity of snoring related to OSA is the loudest, however. This has actually been measured in one study. The study rated participants as: No Snoring at less than 5, Mild Snoring was 5 to 15, and 15 to 30 for Moderate. Severe Snoring was rated between 30 to 50 with Very Severe registering over 50. The results showed that the intensity of snoring increasing as OSA becomes more severe. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/basics/complications/con-20020286)
OSA occurs when the soft tissues in the throat block the airway, which halts the breathing process during sleep. These pauses in oxygen flow can last for up to a minute each time. The brain, being deprived of necessary oxygen as a result, signals the individual to wake up, which is often followed by a loud snort or gasping sound. These episodes can occur over a hundred times throughout the night.
During sleep, your brain is actually active doing “housekeeping” to keep your body’s command center operating efficiently. This is its time to sweep out toxins and reset hormonal levels so the body functions properly during your awake time. When restful REM sleep fails to occur night after night, things begin to tilt off-balance.
For example, the brain triggers the release of hormones that signal hunger in its search for more energy. Too, the satiety hormone that tells you when you’re full fails to kick in when it should. This is why regular lack of sleep causes people to gain weight.
In addition to feeling tired and being more prone to weight gain, sleep apnea can increase the risks of other health problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies found that snoring may cause Alzheimer’s disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
When sleeping with a heavy snorer, a bedmate may use an elbow or regular plea to “turn over” during the night to get their partner off his or her back. Side sleep positions can definitely help since tissue blockage is less pronounced in this position.
However, an adult’s anatomy can simply make an individual more likely to snore loudly. For example, having a low, thick soft palate creates a more narrow airway, which requires more forceful airflow. This causes tissue vibration to increase, leading to a louder level of snoring.
Being overweight is also a contributing factor. This means extra tissues in the back of the throat can narrow the airway. Snoring may also occur due to chronic nasal congestion, having a deviated septum, or an elongated uvula.
While some snoring occurs with age due to the laxity in muscles and tissues surrounding the airway passages, snoring associated with sleep apnea should be resolved promptly. It’s important to your health and can decrease your risk for severe, even deadly, outcomes.
For people who are heavy snorers or suffer with mild to moderate sleep apnea, there may be a simple, effective solution.
People who are diagnosed with OSA are often advised to wear a CPAP device during sleep. These are effective in restoring the patient to sufficient oxygen flow during sleep, yet have a poor compliance rate. Many people who have been prescribed CPAP therapy find the devices are noisy, confining, inconvenient, and even embarrassing. This is why many people fail to wear their CPAP on a consistent basis.
For those who resist CPAP therapy, heavy snorers or sleep apnea sufferers may consider oral appliances, which some dentists now offer. However, the effectiveness and ability to achieve desired results greatly depends on how these are made and the intricate, individual factors taken into consideration. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to oral sleep appliances.
In our Shelby Township dental office, we use Cone Beam technology to provide a detailed 3D view of where airflow blockage exists. This enables us to create the most effective device possible in a uniquely small, comfortable shape that is easy to wear during sleep. These appliances are FDA approved, small and designed to restore restful sleep. Most importantly, however, is the extensive training we have completed to be able to help you achieve optimal results.
If you’ve had a sleep study and know you have sleep apnea or know you snore loudly, please schedule a no-charge consultation to discuss how our custom-designed appliances can help you overcome these issues. If you have avoided having a sleep study because you dread a night in a sleep center, there are at-home studies that can be shipped directly to you for this purpose. The results are read by qualified doctors and the cost is nominal. Some of these may even be covered by your medical insurance.
Learn more by calling 586-739-2155 or tap here to arrange a no-charge consultation. We will be happy to explain the process and answer your questions. While you’re here, we can have our Financial Coordinator discuss easy payment options, if desired.