How snoring can become disturbing

When you snore, the muscles which hold open your pharynx — part of your throat at the back of the tongue — relax during sleep and partially close off the airway. This partial closure causes the pharyngeal walls to vibrate, creating the sound of snoring.

When the pharyngeal narrowing results in a total block of your airway during sleep, you actually stop breathing momentarily, and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) occurs.

At this point, your brain will wake and stimulate the muscles to open your airway and let breathing return to normal. When you fall asleep again, the muscles relax and your airway is once again blocked. This cycle can repeat every 1 to 2 minutes, becoming very disruptive and resulting in a range of adverse effects.

The really disturbing thing is that you never really wake up during this disordered sleep process, so you are largely unaware of what’s going on.

Why do you snore?

Not everyone who snores has OSA, but studies have shown that if you snore, you have a 7x magnified risk of obstructive sleep apnoea¹.

There are many reasons why people snore— including:

  • drinking alcohol
  • smoking
  • being overweight or obese
  • a cold, sinus or allergy problems
  • sleeping on your back
  • medicines
  • pregnancy

¹Young T, Palta M, Dempsey J, Skatrud J, Weber S, Badr S. The Occurrence of Sleep-Disordered Breathing among Middle-Aged Adults. New England Journal of Medicine 1993;328:1230-5.

Sleep disorders don’t just make you tired

There are many types of sleep disorder, but the common one most associated with snoring is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Millions of people worldwide suffer from this potentially serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly, feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, or experience flagging attention and emotional slumps in the afternoon, you may have OSA. Symptoms like these should not be ignored — you should explore your options and see a sleep disorder specialist for a proper analysis of your particular condition.

The disruptive cycle of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea

Some people know their breathing is not normal at night, but they ‘tough it out’. You need to know that this could be a harmful medical problem and that sleep apnoea treatments are available.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, sufferers of sleep apnoea experience multiple episodes of partial, or complete, airway obstruction during sleep. Narrow throats are also more likely to vibrate during sleep, which causes snoring, according to sleep disorder specialists. These partial or complete obstructions can cause breathing to reduce, or even stop, for anywhere from 10 seconds up to a minute or more — causing blood oxygen levels to fall in the body. After one of these pauses in breathing the sufferer wakes up briefly — just 3 seconds or so — which allows breathing to start again, but disrupts sleep throughout the night.

Did you know?

40% of adults snore regularly1

An estimated 1.5 million Australians suffer from sleep disorders and more than half of these have sleep apnoea 2

More than 85% of patients with clinically significant sleep apnoea have never been diagnosed3

1 — Ohayon MM et al. Snoring and breathing pauses during sleep: telephone interview survey of a United Kingdom population sample. BMJ. 1997;314:860-3.
2 — Deloitte Access Economics, Reawakening Australia: the economic cost of sleep disorders in Australia, 2010. Canberra, Australia.
3 — Kato M(1), Adachi T, Koshino Y, Somers VK. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea and Cardiovascular Disease. Circ J. 2009 Aug; 73(8):1363-70. Epub 2009 Jun

Are you at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea?

Have you been told that you snore?
Do you often wake up tired or unrefreshed?
Do you suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness?
Do you wake up choking or gasping for air?
Do you have trouble with concentration/memory?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may be at risk!

Find out more with this OSA Fact Sheet
Download this OSA Fact Sheet for details on symptoms, risks, and potential sleep apnoea treatment pathways.
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