How can you tell?
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is daytime drowsiness. But the second most common symptom is loud snoring. If you have sleep apnea, you will almost certainly snore. But the fact that you snore does not necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder. It does not even mean that you are going to develop sleep apnea at some time in the future. Even doctors cannot predict with any degree of reliability which snorers will develop sleep apnea or other sleep disorders and which snorers won’t. Factors other than snoring play a greater part in determining your likelihood to have sleep apnea. You are more likely to develop sleep apnea if you have one of the following traits:
- You’re a man.
- You’re over 40 years old.
- You’re overweight.
- You smoke cigarettes.
- You drink alcohol excessively or you drink alcohol close to bedtime.
If you think that you may be developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should have your sleep partner or some other family member spend some time listening to you snore. If your snoring regular, steady, and absent the appearance of stress? Then your snoring may just be snoring. If your snoring, though, is loud, habitual, and comes in burst that switch back and forth between easy breathing and a choking-for-air type of gasping, then you may very well be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. sleep health
What can you do?
If your doctor confirms that you are dealing with sleep apnea, there are a number of things you can do to give yourself relief.
Lose weight. Excess weight around the neck/throat area often causes the airway to collapse — sleep apnea. Losing the excess weight typically brings relief from this problem. Don’t go to extremes — consult with your doctor to establish a diet-and-exercise routine that’s right for you.
Change your sleeping position. Your airway is more likely to collapse (obstructive sleep apnea) if you sleep lying on your back. Try sleeping on your side and see whether this reduces or eliminates the problem.
Quit smoking. Smoking inhibits your lung capacity, and thus inhibits the effectiveness of your breathing. Lord knows there are plenty of other reasons to quit smoking, but you can add snoring and sleep apnea to the reasons why you should quit.
Don’t drink alcohol before bedtime. OK, let’s look a little closer at this one. Most people drink alcohol because it helps them relax. Puts the stresses of the day behind them and lets them easily drift off to sleep. Unfortunately, that “relaxation” also includes relaxation of the airway muscles — the muscles that keep your airway open so that you can breathe. So, believe it or not, the relaxation that can help you get to sleep can lead to the sleep apnea that keeps the sleep from being either restful or efficient.
If you suspect sleep apnea, have a sleep partner or family member listen to your snoring. If the snoring is ragged, rough, and “desperate sounding,” you can suspect sleep apnea and you should consult with your doctor about potential remedies, including such measures as losing weight, changing your sleep position, and avoiding substances that only add to your problems.