Snoring and sleep apnoea

Nearly everyone snores occasionally and the older we get the more we snore. About 30% of men regularly snore and about 12% of women.

While a mild case of snoring may be irritating to those who have to sleep nearby in most cases it is not dangerous. Usually it consists of a continuous repetition of snore-snore-snore sounds without any non-breathing or gasping intervals. Of course if someone is snoring to the point where it is irritating to others, it is arguable that it is not benign because it may well be causing serious sleep deprivation to the sleeping partner.

However, it must be remembered that snoring itself is frequently an indicator of the more serious condition of sleep apnoea especially if the snoring is accompanied by episodes of non-breathing and gasping. So while snoring for many may only have minimal health effects, for others it may be life threatening.

The most common type of sleep apnoea is obstructive sleep apnoea – often abbreviated to OSA or more simply just sleep apnoea. This disorder is characterised by repeated episodes of the collapse and the reopening of the upper airway during sleep.

Sleep apnoea has been linked to a number of serious co-morbidities including high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes. If you:

  • snore,
  • stop breathing in your sleep,
  • have restless sleep or
  • are always tired during the day

you may have sleep apnoea and it is important to speak with your health care professional.

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