Restful sleep for many may seem like an impossible fantasy. There are many reasons why our sleep can be affected, but if you’re not getting enough sleep because of a snoring spouse or you yourself tend to snore the problem may be bigger than you think. A recent Newsweek article discusses the risks and remedies for people who snore or live with those who do.
If the snoring is persistent and loud the problem could be something called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the sufferer stops breathing repeatedly as they sleep. A person with sleep apnea can wake up as many as 100 times a night without even knowing it.
In patients with sleep apnea, the sound of snoring occurs because of an obstruction or a narrowing of the airway. The more the airway is narrowed the harder it can be for the body to work to push air out which also puts stress on the heart. A past director of the New York University Sleep Center, Joyce Walseben says this is the very reason why people who snore loudly tend to have high blood pressure. “People who are just snorers have higher incidence of stroke and cardiovascular disorders,” said Walseben.
A recent study published in the journal Sleep found that loud snorers had a 40 percent greater risk than those who do not snore to have high blood pressure, a 34 percent greater risk of having a heart attack and a 67 percent greater chance of having a stroke.
Snoring usually worsens with age and affects both men and women about equally. Menopause and weight are thought to be a factor as well. Sleep specialists estimate that somewhere between 12 and 18 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea and do not even know it.
The effects of sleep apnea may sound frightening, but it can be very treatable. Doctors are now giving patients something called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP). If used correctly it is said to improve mental clarity, energy levels, and an overall improvement in one’s mood. The CPAP is a mask that helps force oxygen into the airway while the patient sleeps. When used properly it is 100 percent effective.
People who snore, but do not suffer sleep apnea can take other measures to have a more restful night such as avoiding big meals and alcohol before bed. Refraining from taking antihistamines and other drugs that have a sedating effect is also a good idea as well as maintaining a healthy weight and sleeping on one’s side.
What do you think about the link between snoring and high blood pressure?
Have you or your spouse found a good a way to stop snoring?