When we refer to something boring as a “snorefest,” it’s clear what that means. That’s because snoring is a universal symbol of sleep. We all do it to some extent—when air passes soft tissue and causes it to vibrate, we make that oh-so-familiar sound. But here’s something that should wake you up and get your attention: Snoring can be more than an incidental sleep sound. It may indicate an emerging health problem. When snoring is especially loud or unpredictable, it may signal obstructive sleep apnea, or the interruption of our breathing, as we sleep. In this beginner’s guide to sleep apnea, we’ll explain how sleep apnea affects you, how it affects others, and how we can fix it.
Understanding sleep apnea versus snoring comes down to whether the snoring goes beyond sound. The quality of our sleep affects the quality of our waking hours. Anyone who has pulled an all-nighter or been awakened by violent thunderstorms knows that. Our sleep cycle is a delicate thing, passing through a series of important phases that culminates in the rapid-eye-movement phase, or “REM sleep,” which is the most restorative part of each night’s sleep. When interrupted breathing leads to interrupted REM sleep, the phase goes to waste, preventing the brain from completing its important processing tasks. Sleep apnea can further compound sleep disruption with bouts of insomnia at night and naps during the day.
When you have to deal with sleep apnea, you’re not the only one suffering. The loud and sharp snoring that attends sleep apnea can be a distraction or a deal-breaker for your bed partner. Moreover, when your brain can’t complete its sleep cycles, it cannot perform at its best. This can lead to fatigue, irritability, and depression during the day, all of which can affect relationships with loved ones and productivity in school or the workplace. When you don’t feel completely “there,” you can’t be there for others.
Sleep apnea and snoring have many adverse effects, but we have many ways to treat them. We hope this guide to sleep apnea can bring you relief. Some of our patients benefit from a balloon sinuplasty procedure that widens the nasal passages. Others simply rely on a CPAP apparatus to deliver constant airflow through the night. The latest in sleep apnea solutions is the Inspire, an implanted sleep-therapy device that provides better breathing by stimulating muscle tissue as you sleep. Allergy & ENT Associates now offers the Inspire as an option for getting the quality sleep you deserve—and require.
Didn’t get enough information in our beginner’s guide to sleep apnea and snoring? Call Allergy & ENT Associates today to schedule an appointment to learn more and see if we can help you get a better and more restful night of sleep.