Sleep disorders

Snoring and apnea (stopping breathing during sleep)

Statistics and reality.

  • After 30 years, every fifth person begins to snore, but not everyone notices it. By the age of 65, one in two no longer snores, but snores in their sleep.
  • Surveys of married couples have shown that in ten out of a hundred cases, snoring is the cause of complications in relationships.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (stopping breathing during sleep) is as common as asthma. It affects 2 to 5% of the population.
  • Apnea provokes the development and rapid progression of diseases of the cardiovascular system. People suffering from respiratory arrest during sleep are 5-8 times more likely to develop hypertension. They have an increased likelihood of stroke and heart attack, and arrhythmia is their constant companion.
  • The cause of sudden death in sleep in thirty cases out of a hundred is obstructive and central types of sleep apnea syndrome.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation resulting from obstructive sleep apnea leads to fatal drowsiness while driving. “One second sleep” is the cause of 20% of all road traffic accidents in the world.
  • Many people suffer from sleep apnea without realizing it, and meanwhile, the disease develops. Attention! Sleep apnea symptoms: restless sleep with frequent awakenings, night sweats, frequent nighttime urination, daytime lethargy, increased sleepiness, irritability, distracted attention.

Snoring and sleep apnea. What causes snoring?

Snoring is a sound accompaniment of a physical phenomenon: the soft flabby tissues of the larynx vibrate on inhalation and exhalation. The weaker the muscle tone, the higher the risk of complete closure of an already narrowed airway.

It is necessary to take into account some of the anatomical features that cause snoring and sleep apnea. In addition, external factors that reduce muscle tone contribute to the development of apnea.

Anatomical features that provoke a narrowing of the airways.

  • Congenital or acquired malocclusion. Acquired malocclusion with displacement of the lower jaw back, when the upper jaw slightly overhangs the lower one. In a dream, the lower jaw moves back, causing the soft tissues to vibrate, blocking the passage of air. Quite often, a malocclusion is formed in those who, in childhood, did not part with the nipple.
  • Snoring due to dislocation of the jaw occurs in people with a normal bite, but with a tendency for the lower jaw to sink in during sleep.
  • Problems with nasal breathing. These include: congenital narrowness of the nasal passages, deformed nasal septum, polyps, sinusitis and sinusitis, swelling of the nasal mucosa for various reasons.
  • Uvula developmental pathology. It sometimes has a congenital abnormal length.
  • Pharyngitis, tonsillitis, which led to scarring and persistent enlargement of the tonsils.
  • Obesity.

Factors contributing to a decrease in the muscle tone of the larynx.

  • Great fatigue, lack of sleep.
  • Intoxication.
  • Artificial sleep after taking sleeping pills.
  • Heavy smoking.
  • Unsatisfactory work of the thyroid gland.
  • Menopause, age-related changes in hormonal levels.
  • Gerontological processes (aging).

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) syndrome is characterized by snoring as well as dangerous closure of the upper airways. Due to the cessation of normal ventilation of the lungs, the patient’s sleep becomes superficial and restless. During the day, there is increased drowsiness. 

Apnea is a consequence of snoring with closure of the airways, but snoring is not always accompanied by obstructive sleep apnea. When snoring, the walls of the larynx can vibrate strongly, but not subside. With apnea, they close together so tightly that a person wakes up from suffocation.

This is why it is important to differentiate between snoring and apnea. Their treatment is significantly different. Sleep diagnostics will determine which treatment tactics should be used in each individual case. There are effective treatments for snoring. 

You can determine if you have a cessation of breathing in a dream right now by passing a special test. 

Why is constant snoring at night dangerous?

For a long time it was believed that snoring is not dangerous, since it only interferes with others, and does not cause any inconvenience to the sleeping person. It is now known for sure that snoring is a symptom of a dangerous disease. So dangerous that doctors started talking about him. A special branch of medicine has been created – somnology , which is engaged in the study of the causes of respiratory arrest during sleep and the search for ways to treat them.

The rapid deterioration of the condition of a person suffering from sleep apnea is 5 times more likely to cause sudden death from heart attack and stroke.

Often, family members, spouses who are annoyed by loud snoring, go to sleep in another room. A person suffering from apnea is left alone with his illness. He can wake up from suffocation up to 500 times a night! Insufficient amount of oxygen enters the bloodstream and the brain of the sleeping person from time to time gives the body a command to “wake up and breathe.” Having received the appropriate signal, the person passes from the deep phase of sleep to the superficial one – the so-called ” arousal ” – the muscle tone increases, the person breathes in deeply and falls back into deep sleep. In the deep sleep phase, the muscle tone drops again and the person once again receives the command to wake up.

Sleep apnea patients do not have the required deep sleep phases, which, over time, have a critical impact on their health. During the day, a patient with sleep apnea syndrome cannot concentrate, he looks tired, emaciated, suffers from sweating, irritability. 

If treatment is neglected, then on the basis of constant nighttime oxygen starvation and chronic sleep deficiency, other serious diseases develop: arrhythmia, cardiovascular dystonia, pre-infarction or pre-stroke conditions, cardiac arrest or cerebral hemorrhage may occur.

How to suspect a disease? The main symptoms

Check yourself. Do you have at least three of these signs?

  • Sometimes you wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of your own snoring – it seems to you that someone else is snoring in the room.
  • You are tormented by nightmares with repetitive plots of strangulation – you are drowning, you are in a narrow confined space, you are covered with sand or earth, someone is strangling you.
  • You sweat profusely during sleep, although the room is not hot. The sheets and pillow are soaked through with sweat.
  • In the morning, you do not feel well rested – as if you spent the whole night out of bed.
  • You often go to the bathroom even though you don’t drink water or tea at night.
  • In the morning you have headaches, and even cool compresses do not help from bags under the eyes.
  • During the day, you want to sleep all the time. Coffee and tonics only work for a short time. You can fall asleep in transport, in front of the TV, waiting for your turn at the clinic, waiting for an order in a cafe.
  • In the morning, you notice unusually high blood pressure, your face turns red, and blood pulsates in your temples. It seems to you that you have been hanging upside down for at least half an hour, so you try to sleep on high pillows, almost sitting.
  • You are overweight based on your BMI norm.
  • You notice problems with sex drive and potency. Men may be worried about erectile dysfunction.

If three or more facts occur in your life, it is very likely that central or peripheral apnea is causing it. You can more accurately predict the presence of the disease by going through the “Comprehensive diagnosis of sleep disorders”. 

If you suspect you have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, see a sleep disorder specialist. 

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