If your partner snores, you probably feel like you haven’t had a good night’s rest in months, if not longer. Most of the time, your partner is oblivious to their snoring, while you lie awake wishing for some peace and quiet. Snoring is an extremely common health problem: according to the National Sleep Foundation, about 37 million Americans snore, with men and people who are overweight being more likely to do so.
However, snoring is more than just a nuisance; it can actually be a sign of or even a cause of other problems. The good news is that there are a lot of treatments that can help. In this blog, Dr. Thomas Sokoly of Sokoly Dental explains the causes of snoring and the possible treatments for it.
Simply speaking, snoring occurs when something disrupts your breathing during sleep. The causes of this disruption can vary, but one of the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. With this condition, your airways get temporarily blocked while you’re asleep, causing you to gasp for breath. This can occur up to dozens of times every hour.
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight because of extra tissue in the throat. It’s most often diagnosed by a sleep study, which observes the number of times you stop breathing throughout the night.
However, other causes can also explain snoring. If it only happens during allergy season, for example, it could be caused by blocked sinuses. Snoring is also more likely to happen if you sleep on your back. Other common causes of snoring include drinking alcohol heavily, smoking, and taking muscle relaxers, which cause your throat muscles to become too relaxed.
As the partner of someone who snores, you’re not the only one getting a poor night’s sleep. Snorers often complain of not feeling rested even after a full night’s sleep, which is because the frequent gasping for breath throughout the night is actually interrupted sleep. Even if they’re in bed for eight hours, the actual time spent in quality sleep is much less.
These continual nights of lost sleep take their toll. People who snore are at higher risk of falling asleep during the day, which can affect job performance. They’re also at greater risk of falling asleep while driving or getting into car accidents.
Of course, there’s also the significant toll it takes on your health to be perpetually sleep-deprived. Especially if caused by sleep apnea, snoring causes several types of damage to your heart and raises your blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
You can always start with simple and inexpensive treatments first. If your partner is a back sleeper, encourage them to sleep on their side instead. Review the medications they take with your doctor, and see if any of them could be contributing to snoring. You can also have them try taking decongestants for up to three nights if you believe allergies may be a factor.
Many doctors will recommend a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to beat sleep apnea. Worn over your mouth and/or nose while you’re asleep, the CPAP machine provides pressure on your airways to make sure they function properly.
Believe it or not, the dentist might be a better choice for treating your snoring than a sleep medicine specialist. Dr. Sokoly can relieve your sleep apnea with a custom-fitted oral appliance that helps align the muscles and soft tissues in your mouth correctly, preventing snoring. By repositioning your mouth, your airways remain open the way they should.
If your partner has a snoring problem, fixing it may be simpler than you imagined. Call Dr. Thomas Sokoly at Sokoly Dental at 202-280-2428 today or request an appointment online to find out more about how to beat the snoring problem once and for all.