Sleep Disorder Causes & Symptoms


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Studies indicate 45 percent of adults snore at least some of the time and 25 percent are habitual snorers.

What Causes Snoring?

The area at the back of the throat can narrow when we are asleep. The air passing through this smaller opening can cause the surrounding tissues to vibrate, which creates snoring sounds. Snoring is caused by different reasons in individuals—the narrowing can be in the nose, mouth or throat.

Mouth Breathing

It’s natural to breathe through our noses, however, some people are not able to do this because of blockages in the nasal passages. These blockages can be causes by sinus infections, allergies, a deviated nasal septum or large adenoids (tonsils located at the back of the throat). In children, enlarged adenoids are often the cause of snoring.

People who breathe through their mouths are often referred to as ‘mouth breathers’. Mouth breathers frequently snore because more vibrations are caused by the flow of air.

Snoring and Sleep Stages

We go through different levels or stages of sleep, which are divided into REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM stages and snoring may occur during any or all of the stages of sleep, but most often occurs during s REM sleep.During REM sleep, which is the deepest stage, a signal is sent by the brain to all the muscles in the body to relax, except for your breathing muscles. The tongue, palate and throat can collapse when they relax, causing airways to narrow. This narrowing causes snoring.

Snoring and Sleep Position

During sleep, we are usually lying down and gravity pulls on all of the tissues of the body. The tissues of the throat are generally soft and sloppy, so gravity easily pulls the palate, tonsils and tongue backwards, narrowing the airway enough to cause snoring. Snoring happens more frequently when people sleep on their backs, and if the snorer is reminded to sleep on his or her side, the snoring usually stops.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. If you think you suffer from sleep apnea, you need to have this diagnosed immediately. It can affect your life in many ways—seriously impacting your health, reducing the quality of your life because of fatigue and affecting your relationship with your partner. Both of you may be exhausted from the symptoms of your sleep apnea.

Major signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Loud, persistent snoring
  • Choking, gasping or snorting
  • Lengthy pauses in breathing
  • Daytime sleepiness

Other common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
  • Restless sleep
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Nighttime waking
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night
  • Feeling out of breath upon awakening
  • Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
  • Depression, irritability and moodiness

Description of a sleep apnea episode

Airflow stops during a sleep apnea episode causing the oxygen level in your blood to drop. The brain responds by disturbing your sleep enough to jumpstart breathing again. Breathing is often resumed with a gasping or choking sound.The sleep apnea sufferer usually doesn’t remember any of this, moving just enough to tighten the muscles in the throat and open the windpipe.

Having your sleep apnea treated could possibly save your life…and your relationship!

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