Even though the term “sleep apnea” may seem somewhat new, this is a problem that has plagued people virtually everywhere. Many people tend to get sleep apnea and snoring confused, and even though they may sound similar, you will find that if you are watching someone with sleep apnea, they will be choking or gasping for breath in a way that a typical snoring person would not. This is much more than just a noisy sleeper – this is someone who is struggling to breathe during sleep.
There are a few symptoms that you may notice that will give you a pretty good sign that you are suffering from sleep apnea. The most obvious sign is that if you wake yourself up in the middle of the night and you find that you are choking or gasping, almost as if someone had their hands around your neck. If you share a bed with someone, then they may have noticed you doing this.
If you are someone who snores very loudly or you wake up with a very sore and dry throat, then you could be suffering from sleep apnea or snoring. Also, there are other more long-term and less severe symptoms that can be found in people with sleep apnea and chronic snores, including sleepiness during the day, chronic fatigue, headaches, and weight gain.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, then you may be prescribed what is known as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which looks like a giant, space age mask that is connected to a piece of machinery. One of these devices can help to ensure that you get positive oxygen flow throughout the night, but these are notoriously difficult to wear, and they can actually interrupt your sleep in an entirely different way.
There are some lifestyle changes that you can make that will help to reduce your sleep apnea, including putting an end to your smoking and alcohol drinking habits. Those who smoke and drink tend to have significantly worse sleep apnea and snoring problems than the rest of the population.
Another lifestyle change you can make that will improve your snoring and sleep apnea is to lose weight. Overweight people typically have sleep apnea at a much higher percentage than those of a normal weight.
There are several different types of snoring and sleep apnea devices that are sold over-the-counter that may be able to help you with your sleep apnea, but of course you should talk to your doctor first.
Many of these include devices like Zquiet that help to keep your lower jaw closed and in place, so as to prevent your tongue and uvula from vibrating during the night. There are devices that strap underneath your chin, those that are mouth guards, and even holistic and herbal medicine that have been shown to work in some people.
One simple way of reducing sleep apnea and snoring in most people is simply to roll over onto your side. If you were sleeping on your side, rather than on your back, you will be less likely to gasp for air or choke, because your jaw will remain in line. You can often force yourself into sleeping on your side simply by putting a pillow against your back when you fall asleep.
For more information on sleep apnea and what you can do about it, Webmd.com should be the first resource for you to visit. This website had a large variety of information on sleep apnea, and related illnesses and diseases, so you can get the information you need to put an end to this problem.
If you have been told by others in your household that you are a chronic and severe snoring person, or if you suspect that you are waking yourself up in the night, gasping for breath, then now is the time for you to talk to a doctor about sleep apnea.
This is a potentially serious problem that you need to address. There is a substantial difference between snoring and sleep apnea, and by doing your research now, you will be more likely to live a longer and happier life with improved sleep.
(Last Updated 10 June 2013)
1. WebMD.com (Accessed 4 June 2013)
2. National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute (Accessed 10 June 2013)