Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Q: Is snoring normal?

A: Snoring is never normal. It is always a danger sign that breathing passages are collapsing during sleep which may deprive you of oxygen and healthy sleep.

Q: What is the difference between snoring and obstructive sleep apnea?

A: Snoring is the vibrating noise that the upper airway makes when it is partially collapsed during sleep. It is the danger sign that something is wrong. Obstructive sleep apnea results when the upper airway is completely collapsed during sleep and no air at all can pass into your lungs even though your body is trying to breathe.

Q: Can snoring be detrimental to the bed partner who has to listen to it all night?

A: Snoring is an obnoxious irritation to all sleepers within earshot of the snorer. Recent studies have shown that the bed partner’s mood, daytime alertness, quality of life and personal relationship with the snorer is improved when the snoring is resolved.

Q: Can snoring make me feel tired during the day even though I don’t have any sleep apnea?

A: Yes, snoring alone can disrupt your sleep resulting in sleepiness during the day. This happens when the muscles forming the breathing passages relax during sleep causing partial collapse of the upper airway. This partial collapse causes loud vibration (snoring) and a reduced volume of air entering the body. The noise from the vibration and the diminished oxygen intake can disrupt sleep to the extent that you do not feel refreshed the next day. When this happens, it is termed “upper airway resistance syndrome” or UARS.

Q: How can sleep apnea cause increased risk for depression or diabetes?

A: During sleep apnea episodes, the breathing passages collapse resulting in inadequate oxygen intake to the body. Because of this, sleep is disrupted throughout the night and many times “deep sleep” is absent. Deep sleep is very important to health and well-being because it is during this stage of sleep that numerous hormones are excreted responsible for regulation of mood and blood sugar. Appetite and sex drive can also be adversely affected by the absence of deep sleep for the same reason.