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Health Risks of Snoring

Snoring takes a toll on a person's health and vitality. It is more than just an annoyance. Not only can it be a source of contention and resentment in your relationship, the dangers of snoring pose a serious risk to your and your partner's quality of life, physical and mental health, and all around well-being. If you have been tolerating snoring for an extended period of time, it is possible that you are are experiencing symptoms such as elevated stress levels and declining health, energy, and mental clarity.  It is also possible, especially if you don't hear yourself snore, that you haven't associated your symptoms with these snoring health risks.

Let's take a look at some of the far-reaching effects snoring can have on your life.

Lack of Sleep

Did you know that people can survive longer without food than without sleep? This is a fact that underscores just how important sleep is to our health. Even though snoring happens during sleep, it prevents one from achieving the deepest levels of sleep essential for proper brain function. Snoring disrupts the natural sleep cycle by rousing snorers and their partners awake several times a night, to either semi or full consciousness. One may not be aware of just how many times one actually wakes up during the night, but sleep studies show that snorers can wake up hundreds of times a night without realizing it. Furthermore, snorers' bed partners often develop their own disordered sleep patterns, and suffer many of the same consequences.

The symptoms of sleep deprivation include:

·         Daytime fatigue

·         Lack of concentration and alertness

·         Anxiety

·         Elevated stress levels

·         Diminished immune system function

·         Increased hunger and weight gain

·         Depression

·         Decreased motor function

·         Poor memory retention

·         Decreased cognitive performance

·         Increased risk of heart attack

·         Obesity, and diabetes

Clearly, lack of sleep presents an alarming risk to one's health and safety, as well as one's interpersonal relationships. Impaired neurological function can make you more prone to error and accidents. It can negatively affect your performance at work and your ability to experience enjoyment. Mood disorders that result in a lack of interest, irritability, or shortness of temper and patience can compromise the important relationships in your life.

Lack of Oxygen

Normal respiratory function keeps our vital organs and tissues oxygenated while eliminating toxins. All you have to do is hold your breath to realize how critical this function is to our survival – it only takes moments. Snoring is evidence that there is an obstruction in the airway, meaning that the freeflow of air has been compromised, resulting in a drop in the blood oxygen level, which can lead to many of the neuro-psychological symptoms of sleep deprivation described above. Studies show that, during sleep, many heavy snorers experience decreased blood oxygen levels, a condition called nocturnal hypoxemia, which has been associated with an increased risk for hypertension and stroke.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a diagnosable medical condition, characterized by a difficulty or suspension of breathing during sleep. There are three types: Central, Obstructive, and Mixed. Those with central sleep apnea suffer from a neurological disorder affecting the brains' automatic signal to breathe. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. Those with obstructive sleep apnea struggle to breathe during sleep due to the presence of an obstruction in the airway, and sometimes breathing can stop all together. Heavy snoring and gasping for air are common indicators of obstructive sleep apnea, and can result in lack of sleep and lowered blood oxygen levels. Mixed sleep apnea indicates the presence of both central and obstructive apnea.

Relationship Strain

Having a bed partner who snores can put a huge strain on a relationship, though couples tend to treat the problem passively, opting to suffer in silence or sleep in separate rooms. While amusing stereotypes tend to reinforce the idea that it's no big deal, snoring can be the source of great strife in a relationship. Consider the snorer, who feels embarrassed and helpless to fix a problem that only happens when they're unconscious. And consider the snorer's partner, who does not want to overreact, but feels equally helpless and frustrated. Add to the mix that both partners are suffering the symptoms of sleep deprivation, and it's easy to see how profoundly snoring can tax a relationship.

Hardening of the Blood Vessels

Carotid Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the blood vessels from the heart become hardened and narrow, thus restricting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body's vital organs, cells, and tissue. Researchers have found an increased instance of carotid atherosclerosis among heavy snorers and those with obstructive sleep apnea, and believe that the vibrations generated by snoring may cause the hardening of the arteries around the neck. Some of the symptoms of carotid atherosclerosis include:

·         Numbness in the arms or legs

·         Angina or chest pain due to decrease blood to the heart

·         High blood pressure

·         Kidney failure

·         Leg pain

·         Pressure in the chest

Negative Effects on Pregnant Women

Research indicates that women who begin snoring during pregnancy have an increased risk for preeclampsia and gestational hypertension. Gestational hypertension, also referred to sometimes as pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH) is a condition of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Gestational hypertension can lead to a serious condition called preeclampsia (also sometimes referred to as toxemia). Hypertension during pregnancy affects about 6-8% of all pregnant women.

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Health Risks of Snoring