How To Stop Snoring and Cure Sleep Apnea
What Is Sleep Apnea?
What Are The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Treatments and Cures for sleep apnea and stopping snoring
This diagram shows you the various risks and diseases associated to sleep apnea rendering it to be a potentially dangerous ailment.
Frequently Asked Questions (Q&A)
Do you wake up in the morning thinking that you have had enough hours of sleep but is still feeling sleepy, groggy and still feeling tired? Are these situations happening quite frequently? If so, you may be suffering from sleep apnea without even knowing it. You see, sleep apnea if left untreated can be potentially dangerous and even life threatening as it can lead to heart diseases, asphyxiation (suffocation) and depression (major depressive disorder).
Although this sleeping disorder affect more on men, women too can suffer from sleep apnea especially women who are going through menopause or at post menopausal stage of their lives. Sleep apnea is a lot more common than what most people think it is because many sufferers are not even aware that they are having the problem. Most people just think that they are just loud snorers and so they simply shrug it off as a loud snoring nuisance. The fact is that it is not that simple to merely ignore this sleeping disorder and everything will turn out to be fine and dandy. In the case of sleep apnea, ignorant is not bliss, it can even be dangerously life threatening!
Ironically, snoring is the case in point because the snoring interferes with your breathing mechanism causing it to stop and then start again and this stop start pattern is repeated throughout the entire night when you were sleeping. What is frightening is that about one in five people have some symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and many of them who have the condition do not even know it or they just shrugged it off as snoring during their slumber. Sure, even though this sleeping disorder usually afflict people who are over 50 years old, this sinister condition can also affect younger people and even young children too.
Sleep apnea is an involuntary interruption in the breathing pattern when you are sleeping, your air passage is involuntarily blocked, known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or when your brain is not sending the right breathing signals to the muscles which facilitate the breathing mechanism, which in this case is known as central sleep apnea (CSA). It can also happen as a combination of both OSA and CSA.
Sufferers of sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during sleep and when the air passage is opened for breathing or the breathing signal from the brain is received again, he or she may snort, grunt and may be awakened gasping, suffocating, or even choking, sometimes rather violently too.
Usually in obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles and the tongue that keep breathing the air passage unblocked tend to relax too much which cause the narrowing of the air passage way and thereby blocking the natural flow of air. In others, there may be excessive fat build up around their air passage which also choke off the air flow and any air that squeezes through will vibrate and rattle the air passage forcefully thus passing out as loud choking snores.
Central sleep apnea a neurological defect which interferes with the involuntary regulation of the breathing mechanism.
Although severe sufferers of both OSA and CSA stop and start breathing up to hundreds of times a night, yet most of the time, they are blissfully unaware that this is even happening. For others, the condition may be the cause of their insomnia problem.
Snoring, in particular loud ones is the most common symptom of sleep apnea. Therefore learning how to stop snoring can help to prevent sleep apnea. You can rightly suspect that you may be suffering from sleep apnea when you experience insomnia (waking up frequently in the night), having restless sleep (tossing and turning), daytime drowsiness, headaches, erectile dysfunction and frequent heartburn or gastro-oesophageal refluxes. Other symptoms which can only be noticed by your bed partner when you are sleeping are sudden bursts of snorts, gasping for air, stopping breathing and then breathing again.
This sleeping disorder is also linked to road accidents, dull cognition ability, frequent tiredness and sleepiness, high blood pressure, glaucoma, poor memory, the inability to concentrate or focus on tasks at hand and so on.
In order to diagnose sleep apnea, the patient is put on a test called the nocturnal polysomnography which is monitored over an entire night. The overnight procedure tracks the patient's breathing pattern, natural airflow through the breathing mechanism, oxygen levels, brain waves, eye movements, heartbeat and so on.
A sleep professional will then make a detailed study of the report from the test and provide the patient with a specific diagnosis thereafter. There are also home testing kits for you to measure your sleep apnea condition too.
Depending on the causation of the sleep disorder and the intensity of it, different treatments are then recommended with the objective of normalizing the breathing pattern when sleeping. When breathing is normalized and stabilized, the patient will then be able to sleep normally. This in turn will eliminate the many negative aspects as a result of sleep apnea such as being drowsy when awake, loss of memory and poor concentration ability.
Treatments include the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy (CPAP) which keeps the air passage open by pumping a steady and consistent stream of air through a face mask. Another method, is the Mandibular re-positioning device (MRD) which is an oral device to adjust the jaw in a position which frees up the air passage behind the tongue in order to facilitate natural and unobstructed breathing and as such, preventing snoring.
Lifestyle changes are also required to normalize the breathing pattern, such as losing weight if the patient is obese, alcohol abstinence, smoking cessation and adopting proper sleeping postures and positions. You can also learn various exercises to stop snoring. Surgery can also be considered to remove any air passageway obstructions such as any obstructing tissues, fat accumulation or enlarged tonsils.
If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, then making a trip to your doctor's office is necessary to get it managed properly or else the resulting consequences of not doing so can be potentially disastrous.
1) You mentioned in the article that sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and heart attack. How is this so? - The association between sleep apnea and cardiovascular heart diseases has been very well established for decades. Dr. Apoor Gami, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the Midwest Heart Specialists-Advocate Medical Group in Elmhurst said in an interview, “The presence and severity of sleep apnea are associated with a significantly increased risk of sudden cardiac death.”
We know that sleep apnea causes the victim to stop breathing multiple times when sleeping. So when the breathing gets disrupted again and again, the blood oxygen level begins to drop, which in turn may cause the heart rhythm to flutter. This identical phenomenon also plays out during a sudden heart attack.
On the other hand, improving obstructive sleep apnea may dramatically improve the patient's cardiovascular well being. The longer the sleep apnea condition is left unchecked, the chances of cardiac arrest increases in tandem.
Obstructive sleep apnea has also been shown to increase risk of high blood pressure. Inversely, having high blood pressure can be as a result of sleep apnea, so it works both ways. Patients suffering with both sleep apnea and hypertension do have a much higher risk of potentially fatal medical complications such as in getting a stroke and cardiac arrest.
In a study, researchers found that obstructive sleep apnea is most common among people age between 30 to 70 years of age. The same study also found that many patients with sleep apnea and/or high blood pressure problems are most often overweight. It also found that up to 50% of patients with hypertension also have sleep apnea issues at the same time. Just as in the case of sudden heart attack, getting effective treatment for sleep apnea is very likely to lower blood pressure reading.
2) How can I know if I am suffering from sleep apnea? - If you want to know for sure, go to a sleep specialist to do a polysomnogram test. In this test, your brain waves, blood oxygen, heartbeat rhythm and breathing patterns will be monitored throughout the night when you are sleeping so as to ascertain whether or not you are suffering from sleep apnea and if so, to quantify how serious is your condition. Click here to cure sleep apnea naturally.
3) What are the causes of snoring and how can I stop snoring? - When you snore, it is a sign that something is obstructing your breathing mechanism and air passageway when you are asleep and there are many things that can cause this interference or obstruction.
Men are more likely to snore than women. You see, when we sleep our tongue relaxes and falls into the throat area called the oropharynx which then blocks your breathing. So it is thought that since men have bigger oropharynx, the tongue therefore takes up more space and as such, men snore more and louder than women do.
Our age and weight are also reasons why we snore. Most people tend to put on weight as they get mor advanced in age and some of this body fat will accumulate around the neck and the throat causing the narrowing of the air passageway and so disrupting breathing in the process and thus the causation of the snoring is being formed. Furthermore, we lose muscle mass as we get older and so the muscles in our breathing apparatus may not function as well as they used to be. So lose weight if you are overweight because merely by losing weight, some people may just stop snoring naturally.
Alcohol consumption may also be another cause of snoring. Many people often have a nightcap before going to sleep because alcohol is a depressant and its sedative effect relaxes you. As such when we drink alcoholic beverages, we tend to fall asleep easier, don't we?
The irony is that this relaxation state also relaxes your throat and jaw muscles causing the tongue to fall into your air passage way and thus interferes and obstructs the free flow of air. Furthermore, alcohol dehydrates you as well and will cause dryness in your mouth and the throat resulting in louder snores as the air vibrates and rattles against the dryer mucus membranes in the throat. So avoid alcohol near your bedtime.
Some medications like sleeping pills and tranquilizers may also cause you to snore because they have the same relaxation effect on the muscles like those of alcohol as described above. Therefore take these medications sparingly and only under the supervision of your medical professional.
Do you smoke? Do you know that some studies found that approximately one in four smokers have the snoring problem as compared to one in seven who don't smoke? The reason why smoking increases the chances of snoring is because the smoke is an irritant and as such may cause inflammation to the cellular membranes in the air passage way.
When this happens, it may lead to some swelling resulting in the production of post nasal drips and causing the airway to narrow. The narrower airway forces the air to flow more turbulently and in turn creating stronger vibrations and as a result, loud snoring. Should you choose to continue smoking, then get an air humidifier to provide some moisture in your room so that the air is not so dry.
Do you sleep on your back? If you do, then this may be another reason why you are snoring. This is because by sleeping on your back, your tongue may relax and fall into your breathing passage blocking the airflow. Try experimenting sleeping on your side or in a prone position and see what happens next.
Watch Dr Josh Axe explaining natural cures for sleep apnea and how to stop snoring including how to watch your diet to get more relief and sleep better.