Snoring occasionally is quite normal, but persistent snoring could indicate a problem called sleep apnoea which can be far more serious. People with sleep apnoea may be unaware they have this condition and can think they sleep quite well. A proper diagnosis may require a sleep study which will show how many times a sufferer is awakening as a result of sleep apnoea.
What Is Sleep Apnoea?
Sleep apnoea is caused as the muscles in the airway relax during sleep, partially obstructing the airway so breathing completely ceases for several seconds. When breathing restarts, it is often accompanied by a loud grasp or snort which will partially awaken the sufferer. This can happen hundreds of times a night, preventing restorative REM sleep and resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness.
What Are the Health Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnoea?
People with sleep apnoea are more at risk of developing a range of health problems including high blood pressure, having a heart attack or a stroke or developing type II diabetes. Excessive sleepiness can also make it dangerous to operate machinery or to drive.
What Is the Treatment for Sleep Apnoea?
Mild to moderate sleep apnoea can often be treated with custom-made snoring devices or snoring mouthguards. These snoring devices are comfortable to wear and work by pulling the lower jaw and tongue slightly forwards so that when the throat muscles relax the airway remains open, allowing breathing to continue unhindered. Self-help measures may also be useful and include maintaining a normal weight and avoiding stimulants before bedtime such as alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.