Snoring is a condition that almost everyone is familiar with. Either you or someone you know snores, and there have been countless jokes made about people who snore. But there is also a serious side to this condition, because it could be a symptom of an underlying and more serious problem other than losing a few winks of sleep at night.
The snoring noise comes from air that is passing over the soft tissues in the mouth and throat, and also the uvula, as a person sleeps. During sleep, everything relaxes, including the muscles in your throat and neck, and this can cause a restriction of the airway. If restricted enough the snoring noise could occur, keeping those around you and maybe even yourself from getting a restful night of sleep.
People snore for different reasons, including allergies, colds, sleeping in a certain position, etc. Temporary snoring is usually not anything to be worried about, but chronic snorers should consult with their doctor about what is causing the snoring. One fairly common cause is called sleep apnea.
There are two basic types of sleep apnea, Central sleep apnea and Obstructive sleep apnea. Of the two, obstructive is by far the most common. It is usually a result of some sort of blockage in the throat that obstructs normal air flow during sleep, resulting in the snoring noise. When the airway becomes totally blocked, the snorer usually gasps for air and actually stops breathing for a period of time, resulting in interrupted sleep.
These sleep interruptions can occur many times during the evening, and without the snorer even realizing what is happening. Oftentimes it a partner or another family member that informs the person that he or she may be suffering from sleep apnea.
There are many signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, including very loud snoring which is chronic, waking up with a headache or dry mouth, choking or snorting while asleep, constantly being tired in the middle of the day no matter how much time you spend in bed, and also depression and irritability.
Sleep apnea can be a dangerous condition if left untreated. It can contribute to other more serious issues, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and other neurological issues. Another hidden danger of sleep apnea is that of being tired all the time. This can lead to problems on the job if you're in a dangerous profession. Additionally, many traffic accidents are caused by sleepy drivers. Studies have shown that drowsy driving causes just as many accidents as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Some of the factors that could contribute to sleep apnea include being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption, being over the age of 65, being male, and also being a smoker. If you fall into any of these categories and have some of the symptoms of sleep apnea, perhaps you may be suffering with this condition.
There are a number of self help methods you can try to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea. Take a look at the list below to see what can be done for natural treatments:
* Lose weight. Many people develop sleep apnea because of excessive tissue in their neck and throat area, and losing weight will reduce the chances of your airway being closed off during sleep.
* Quit Smoking. Not only will quitting smoking be good for your overall health, it can greatly reduce your chances of developing sleep apnea. Smoking increases the inflammation in your throat, thereby increasing your chances of the airways being restricted during sleep.
* Avoid alcohol, especially to excess. Alcohol can make you very relaxed, that's for sure. But this can also increase the chance that the muscles in your throat will relax and interfere with your breathing during sleep. Sedatives and sleeping pills can have the same effect.
* Maintain a schedule for sleep. As much as possible these days, try to maintain a regular sleep schedule. Sticking to a schedule will condition your body to relax and expect sleep, and getting plenty of restful sleep will decrease the chance that you'll develop sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a treatable problem, so if you suspect you are suffering with this condition, see you doctor immediately. There are many treatments available if the suggestions above don't work for you, including oral devices such as mouth guards that you sleep with, and even CPAP machines that force a gentle, steady flow of air into your airways to keep things flowing. Get the treatment you need so you can begin getting a restful night of sleep.