Is Snoring Dangerous? What Are Some Snoring Causes?

Written by Manny Erlich on August 2, 2012. Posted in Snoring 101, Why Do We Snore?

Just how important is a good night’s sleep? Snoring can affect your relationships, not to mention your overall health. Find about the red flags and what can be done to improve your quality of life. Read on if you still want to know if snoring is dangerous.

The medical community and most healthy lifestyle advocates recognize the need for a good night’s sleep. Interrupted, restless sleep which can happen as a result of loud snoring can adversely affect our job performance, not to mention our health, well being and mental function.

Snoring is perhaps the biggest culprit of restless night sleep. It can affect our relationships and even ruin them. What’s more, lack of a good night’s sleep may cause a myriad of health issues, including strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.

What Constitutes A Good Night’s Sleep?

A good night’s sleep isn’t determined by just the length of time you sleep. It is also determined by how deep, restful and uninterrupted your sleep is. According to the American Sleep Association, a good night’s sleep is seven to eight hours of deep, uninterrupted sleep for adults and longer for teenagers, children and infants.

There are many things that affect our ability to get our needed amount of a good nights’ sleep, from going to bed later than we should, to taking medications, bad eating habits, drinking alcohol before bedtime and smoking. Stress is yet another contributor to poor sleep. Fortunately, our habits can be changed and insomnia or stress-related sleeplessness can be treated by over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

But when lack of a good nights’ sleep is caused by snoring, the issue becomes more complicated because of the potential related health implications.

What are some snoring causes? How does snoring casue sleep deprivation?

Snoring is a physical condition that occurs when the throat relaxes and the tongue falls back in the throat and blocks the airway causing the soft tissues to vibrate and block the airflow through the mouth and nose during sleep.

An estimated 45 million Americans snore. Snoring interrupts the sleep of the snorer and his (or her) sleeping partner, leaving them sleep deprived. There are several causes of snoring, such as nasal polyps, deviated nasal septum, sinusitis and allergies, as well as anatomical causes such as relaxed neck muscles, a large tongue and tonsils. Obesity may also cause snoring, as do smoking, drinking alcohol (especially before bedtime) and taking sedatives.

However, the most common of snoring causes and also the most dangerous is sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop breathing many times during sleep, which can be life threatening. There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obtrusive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most serious type because it affects the individual’s blood pressure, heart and lungs.
  • Central Sleep Apnea.
  • Mixed sleep apnea.

What does it all mean?

Without adequate sleep, our physical performance suffers. Other symptoms of compromised sleep include daytime drowsiness, morning headaches, irritability and poor memory. When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we lose our ability to concentrate or remember things and to perform normal tasks, such as operate machinery, drive, or do mathematical computations.

Unfortunately, too many snorers go untreated. Often, they are embarrassed to admit their problem. Sometimes they ignore it because they don’t know the seriousness of their condition.

Sleep apnea takes a heavy toll on the body because it deprives the body of oxygen, which can cause high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and diabetes. An estimated 85 percent of sleep apnea sufferers go untreated, which is a huge health problem in the U.S. today.

Fortunately, snoring and the numerous snoring causes (including sleep apnea) are treatable: snoring remedies do exist. Casual snorers may only require simple lifestyle changes, such as sleeping on your side, losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking to control their snoring. More persistent snorers and sleep apnea sufferers may require more dramatic medical intervention, including surgery to alleviate their snoring.

The bottom line is this: if your snoring keeps you or your sleeping partner from getting a good night’s sleep, talk about it with your dentist or doctor. He or she will recommend the right snoring rememdies and treatments and get you on a path to well-being and good health.

You can read more articles on living with snoring or how to stop snoring by exloring our Snoring 101 section or exploring our most recent and most popular articles below.

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Manny Erlich

International Foundation of Employee Benefits - Certified Employee Benefits Specialist