Snoring isn’t just annoying AF for whoever shares your bed. It could also be a sign that you’re suffering from sleep apnoea, a common health disorder that inhibits breathing and seriously interrupts sleep. So don’t ignore the snore, and keep reading to find out all about sleep apnoea, its causes and what you can do about it.
What is it?
The common condition, which affects over 1. 5million Brits, can be broken down into two types: apnoea and hypopnoea. The first is when the muscles and soft tissue in the throat become so relaxed that they cause a total blockage of the airway. It’s classified as apnoea when the airflow is blocked for 10 seconds or more.
Hypopnoea, on the other hand, is a partial blockage of the airway, preventing at least 50% of normal airflow for 10 seconds or more.
People with severe apnoea can experience these blockages multiple times throughout the night (sometimes as often as every two minutes! ).
What are the symptoms?
Although it doesn’t mean you definitely have sleep apnoea, snoring is the main symptom of the condition, so if you’re a snorer, ask your doctor to investigate the cause.
It can also cause you to feel exhausted or very tired during the day. When the breathing blockages happen, your brain pulls you out of deep sleep into either a lighter sleep or total wakefullness to get you breathing properly again. If your brain is doing that every two minutes, you can imagine the toll it takes on your daily energy levels.
Do you know what happens to your skin after a bad night’s sleep?
Why does it happen?
There are many, many causes of the common sleep disorder but some of the main ones include being overweight, smoking, taking medication with a sedative effect (like a sleeping pill), a deviated septum (the main bone in your nose) and being male.
There are also some less common causes, like having an abnormal neck structure, so it’s important you check in with your doctor to find the best solution.
What can I do about it?
Luckily, there are loads of potential solutions to alleviate and even totally cure sleep apnoea. If it’s found to be the result of lifestyle factors like smoking or being overweight, then addressing them is a great place to start.
There’s also nifty devices you can wear overnight to help keep the airways open like a positive airway pressure device, a ventilator which looks like an oxygen mask and blow pressurised room air into your mouth to keep the throat open. There’s also a mandibular advancement device, which is a bit like a gum shield and keeps your jaw in a forward position to increase the space at the back of your throat.
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