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What is the Connection Between Snoring and Sleep Disorder?

By L.R. Ferguson
Updated May 17, 2024
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The connection between snoring and sleep disorder generally is explained by the condition known as sleep apnea, which is a disorder that affects one’s breathing during sleep. When a person suffers from this problem, he or she not only snores chronically and severely but also stops breathing for periods of time throughout the night. Though snoring is common and not necessarily indicative of a serious problem, sleep apnea can result in a number of other issues, such as uneven sleeping patterns and extreme tiredness throughout the day.

Snoring occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat vibrate because of obstructed air flow. Many people snore periodically for a variety of reasons. For instance, if a person suffers from allergies and has clogged or swollen nasal passages, breathing can be hindered during sleep, which results in snoring. Having very large tonsils can also induce snoring as the large tissues in the back of the throat block air flow during sleep. In either case, snoring generally is not severe and can be remedied with appropriate treatment.

Snoring and sleep disorder are usually linked if a person experiences sleep apnea in addition to snoring. Sleep apnea — which can occur in two forms — causes a person to stop breathing for several seconds at a time, up to 100 times or more in one night. The first form, obstructive sleep apnea, causes severe snoring, because the airway is blocked when the soft tissues in the throat collapse and relax. The second form, central sleep apnea, is less common in the disorder and occurs when the brain does not send signals to the muscles in the throat to facilitate breathing during sleep. In both cases, sleep apnea disrupts a person’s sleeping pattern and can lead to several other serious health issues, such as fatigue, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Though sleep apnea can occur regardless of gender or age, snoring and sleep disorder generally appear more frequently in males because their necks and throats are thicker and contain more loose tissue. The condition can also affect people who are overweight, those who are older than 50 and those who have poor sleep and exercise habits. Furthermore, the use of alcohol or antidepressants can contribute to snoring and sleep disorder because they cause the muscles in the face and neck to relax considerably, which makes the tissues in the throat slump and construct air flow.

Snoring and sleep disorder can be treated by modifying lifestyle patterns, such as developing regular sleep and exercise habits and decreasing the use of alcohol and antidepressants. Nasal reconstruction surgery can also be helpful in certain cases of obstructive sleep apnea. A common form of treatment that sufferers of snoring and sleep apnea utilize is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. The CPAP mask is placed over the nose and mouth during sleep, and it allows oxygen to continuously flow to the lungs, helping to prevent snoring and sleep disorder.

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Discussion Comments
By Fa5t3r — On Jun 08, 2014

@umbra21 - People do get very upset if they are told that they snore. I remember I was teased about it at an overnight camp with the girl guides when I was a kid and I would be somewhat mortified if someone told me I still did it. And I would hate to have to wear one of those sleep apnea masks.

I've heard that you can actually strengthen your throat muscles by learning a wind instrument, particularly the bagpipes, so maybe that could be an alternative to someone needing to fix it but not wanting to wear a mask.

By umbra21 — On Jun 07, 2014

@browncoat - If you happen to know that someone snores that badly and you think they might have sleep apnea as well, you really should try to say something even if it might hurt their feelings. It can be a serious medical condition and has even been known to cause brain damage, because less oxygen gets to the brain while its happening.

They might also be waking up exhausted in the morning and not understanding why, because people who snore are rarely aware of it unless someone tells them.

It can be a difficult issue to bring up with someone, but it's nothing personal. It's just a medical condition that should be dealt with like any other.

By browncoat — On Jun 07, 2014

I had a boyfriend once who snored terribly and I'm sure the snoring was causing sleep apnea as well. It was certainly waking me up in the middle of the night.

I never realized how loud someone snoring could be until I heard him. I would usually have to go and sleep in the spare room because I could never bring myself to wake him up.

I was too embarrassed to talk to him about it except in a kind of joking way as well. I guess it's not a big surprise that we eventually ended up ending the relationship.

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