Do you snore? Are you wondering if snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea?
You are wise to ask that question.
The fact is that snoring does not necessarily mean you have sleep apnea. But it can be a warning sign. Let me tell you a bit about my story.
Snoring Like A Chainsaw
I don’t know when I first developed sleep apnea, but I know that when I was first married I did not snore — at least not enough that it bothered my wife. However, I slowly developed a snoring pattern over the first couple years.
It was mild at first. I didn’t realize I was snoring — I mean, I was asleep at the time. But my wife heard it once in a while.
Then it started to get louder. And louder.
One year we took a group of youth from our church to a winter retreat. I was in a cabin with about 15 of the guys. The first morning I woke up with several unhappy (and very tired) young men. My snoring was so loud that at least 3 of them were unable to sleep through it.
I was still under the impression that I didn’t snore at that point, but it’s pretty hard to argue with the facts. It’s not something that they’d lie about.
It got so bad that people sitting in the living room (the far opposite end of our house from the bedroom) could hear me snoring — loud enough that it was hard to talk over.
It was also about this time that my wife was noticing that the snoring stopped and started, almost like I stopped breathing at times. In fact, I my breathing was stopping as it turned out.
I would sleep as soon as my head touched the pillow. My wife timed me once — less than 5 seconds.
I could sleep for 9 or 10 hours but I was constantly tired.
I had chronic sore throats. My head seemed foggy in the mornings with a mild headache almost every day.
I thought I was just getting older. I thought it was normal.
Finally, my brother recommended that I see a sleep specialist who had helped him deal with sleep apnea. I talked to my doctor and an appointment was made for me to have a 2 day sleep study.
The results were shocking. During the nighttime monitoring I was found to have at least 1 apnea episode during each 90 seconds. Some of the episodes lasted close to 60 seconds.
During the sleep latency tests the longest I was able to stay awake in a darkened room with no stimulation was 5 minutes. That is dangerously fatigued!
The doctor prescribed a CPAP machine and from the very first time I used it I knew that the way I had been feeling for almost 5 years was not normal. The snoring stopped. The headaches were gone and the fogginess lifted. The sore throats became a rare occurrence rather than the norm.
The Snoring/Sleep Apena Connection
So, back to the initial question, is snoring a symptom of sleep apnea.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea you will likely snore heavily. If you have central sleep apnea then you won’t, which makes it much harder to catch (thankfully it is much more rare than the obstructive form).
But snoring itself doesn’t mean that you have sleep apnea. There are many people who snore without having sleep apnea.
If you snore, but don’t experience stoppages of breath (apnea) during your sleep then you may be alright. If you still feel refreshed after a solid 8 hours of sleep without headaches or fogginess in the morning you’re probably okay.
But if you have any of the accompanying symptoms, or your blood pressure is increasing then you should talk to your doctor about arranging for a sleep study.
In addition to sleep apnea, they can diagnose sleep hyponea (reduced breathing) which also has snoring as a symptom. They will also test for other sleep disorders that rob you from vital sleep every night. They can also provide you with treatments to help you sleep better.
Sleep is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. Don’t let these treatable disorders rob you of the vitality you deserve.