Is Snoring a Warning Signal of Something Worse?

There’s a reason one of Benjamin Franklin’s most well known quotes is “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  

But seriously, sleep is crucial for us proud-to-be healthy Canadian men, and what’s particularly important is that proper breathing is key to a good night’s rest.

Most men don’t think of snoring as a problem – it’s just something we do, right? But that “all-natural” sleep sound can sometimes be a symptom of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea.

Fortunately, there are a handful of simple things you can do to keep your breathing right at night, but first let’s give you the 4-1-1 on sleep apnea.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” Sleep apnea happens when your tongue and throat relax too much, blocking your air canal. A surprising, 1 in 20 men suffer from sleep apnea, and complications may include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction (gulp!).

Causes and symptoms:

There isn’t one specific thing that triggers sleep apnea, but those at greatest risk are overweight men aged 40 plus. A major symptom is extremely loud snoring, sometimes so loud that whoever shares your bed is thrown out of it! You could also be suffering from sleep apnea if you’re tired most days, if you’re getting up several times in the night to urinate, or if you find yourself waking up regularly with a dry mouth or headache. Click here for more signs of sleep apnea.

Low testosterone (Low T) is often associated with sleep apnea and patients with sleep apnea should be screened for low testosterone as well.

What to do about it:

If you think you may be experiencing sleep apnea, be sure to consult a doctor for testing. Here are a few easy tips you can work into your routine right now to avoid developing sleep apnea:

  1. Avoid alcohol at least two hours before going to bed.
  2. Only use sleeping pills if your doctor says it’s OK, as they can relax your throat muscles and slow your breathing even more than usual.
  3. Quit smoking. Check these 5 common signs that you’re ready to quit.
  4. Exercise! Walk around while you talk on the phone, or get off the bus a few blocks early. Exercise that combines brisk walking and weight training may help reduce the severity of sleep apnea.

 

Sources:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Accessed Aug. 16, 2015. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obstructive-sleep-apnea/basics/symptoms/con-20027941

American Sleep Apnea Association, Sleep Apnea Basics. Accessed Aug. 16, 2015. http://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apn

Sleep Apnea, Public Health Agency of Canada.Accessed Oct. 14, 2015. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/cd-mc/sleepapnea-apneesommeil/index-eng.php

Comments

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Sean
November 12, 2015

Great information.

Lillian Schaeffer
January 22, 2016

This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that extremely loud snoring can indicate obstructive sleep apnea. My husband has had problems with loud snoring in the past, but we've kind of just gotten used to it. I didn't realize that this could indicate more serious problems, so I'll definitely talk to his doctor about it. Thanks for the great post! http://www.cpapsolutions.ca/