Health issues related to snoring and sleep apnoea

Excessive daytime sleepiness

The most common effect of snoring and particularly sleep apnoea, is daytime sleepiness. While snoring, a person has to work much harder to draw air into the lungs through their restricted airway, which can mean that they don't sleep as deeply through the night.

The effect of sleep apnoea is generally worse than snoring. Each time a person stops breathing during deep sleep, the oxygen level in the body declines until an internal alarm wakes them up to a shallow sleep to start breathing again. In moderate and severe sleep apnoea this process can occur hundreds of times each night. The next morning the sufferer feels as if they have run a marathon, even though they may not remember waking at night.

There are some exceptions to this general experience, so even if you don't feel tired, you should still pay attention if your partner says you stop breathing during the night.

High blood pressure

Sleep apnoea has been identified as one of the causes of high blood pressure. This is a result of having repeated epidsodes of low oxygen levels in the blood.

With each apnoea the blood pressure and heart rate initially fall as the body tries to conserve the limited oxygen available in the blood.

Then when breathing resumes, both the blood pressure and heart rate sky-rocket as the new oxygen enters the blood stream from the lungs, and the oxygenated blood is rushed to the brain and other vital organs that desperately need it.

Frequent toilet trips at night

As the body endures the large fluctuations in blood pressure during the night as a result of the apnoeas, it often tries to reduce the blood volume by dumping fluid through urine.

As a result, people with untreated sleep apnoea can often find that they have to get up for several toilet stops during the night.

Once started on CPAP treatment, the apnoeas are eliminated, along with the swings in blood pressure. Then people often find that they require fewer toilet trips during the night.

Diabetes

About 30% of people with Diabetes Type 2 also have sleep apnoea. At this point it is not clear whether one condition may cause the other, but it is suspected that having sleep apnoea causes changes to the way the body processes food. This can lead to weight gains and to Diabetes Type 2.

There is some research that shows that if a diabetic successfully treats their sleep apnoea, the progress of the diabetes disease can be slowed or halted. Thus it is especially important for diabetics to check if they have sleep apnoea, and then treat it if necessary.

Insomnia (trouble sleeping)

Some people (more women than men) find that their snoring and sleep apnoea causes them to have trouble staying asleep. The restricted airway which is present in snoring and apnoea can give them sense of choking as they relax and try to go to sleep, or may wake them out of sleep frequently during the night.

The disturbed sleep is often worse from the middle of the night onwards, and once again can lead to daytime sleepiness.

So if you snore...

If you snore most nights, and especially if your partner says you stop breathing during the night, you really should take notice.

You don't have to let snoring and sleep apnoea damage your health and relationships. Contact us about our take-home sleep study.