From time to time, my husband snores. Now, when I say snore, I mean a raising-the-dead-from-the-grave kind of S-N-O-R-E! He doesn’t do it every night (thank GOD!) but the last time it happened, I ended up sleeping on the couch while wearing a set of ear muffs designed to block out the sound of gun fire on the range. They were the only thing I found that blocked the sound enough for me to fall back asleep. In retrospect, it was probably a pretty comical sight that greeted him the next morning! Purely in retaliation, the dirty rat now claims that I snore as well.
If you (or someone you love) snores, then you know what I’m talking about. What you may not know is that snoring is one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea. As it turns out, in addition to causing marital strife and general overall grumpiness from sleep deprivation the next day, sleep apnea may also puts you at an increased risk of heart disease.
A person with sleep apnea literally stops breathing while they are asleep as a result of throat obstructions. Although they may not remember doing so, the only way that they are able to start breathing again is to wake up. As a result of their constant cycle of waking-sleeping, a person with sleep apnea never reaches the “good” level of sleep; they never enter into a place of true rest and get that beneficial sleep at night.
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is really loud, chronic snoring. It may be worse when sleeping on your back although it can occur while sleeping on your side as well. The snoring may or may not be constant and some people may actually choke or gasp after a snoring episode. One of the big problems with snoring, of course, is that you usually don’t wake yourself up and your family members may be the first to notice the problem. Just because you snore, does not mean that you have sleep apnea. Other symptoms of sleep apnea may include unusual tiredness in the middle of the day, headaches (in the morning when you first wake up), night urination, difficulty concentrating (or learning) during the day, and mood swings, irritability, or depression.