Who Snores in Your House?

Do you suspect your bed partner has a sleep disorder?

If someone comes into our office and tells us that they suspect their partner has a sleep disorder, the first thing we do is ask when they first noticed the partner's sleep symptoms. We like to know if the partner has shown symptoms for a long time or if the person is only noticing the issue now. Why? Because sometimes we find that people who realize their partner has a sleep disorder after years of living together could be dealing with sleep issues of his or her own.

Take for an example, a married couple with a husband who snores. If the wife goes through a bout of insomnia – she may suddenly take notice of the snoring because she can't sleep. Usually, bed partners get into a comfortable routine – they may even get used to sleeping with a snoring partner. Each partner has to take into consideration if there has been a change in the norm. If you’ve been together for years and all the sudden you have a problem – it may be treated differently from a new couple that has never been able to adjust to a sleep issue.

Out of respect, if the problem is causing your partner to sleep in another room or get injured (bed partners who kick or move a lot when sleeping) – you should be seen in our office for a consultation. Snoring shouldn't be ignored – especially if it is loud with frequent pauses in breathing.

What are some methods for coping with a snoring partner?

There are some couples that choose to have separate bedrooms. It works for some people, happily. They may go to one bedroom to watch TV, read, etc. and, then, go to sleep in their respective bedrooms.

There are some couples that choose to have separate bedrooms. It works for some people, happily. They may go to one bedroom to watch TV, read, etc. and, then, go to sleep in their respective bedrooms.

You could also try to train a person to sleep on their side or stomach, which may help prevent snoring. You can prop pillows in a position so the snorer is on his or her side or stomach and can't flip onto their back (the position which shoring is most likely to occur). You can nudge them to turn over, but if that doesn't work, it may be a sign that your partner has obstructive sleep apnea (a problem that should be evaluated by a sleep specialist). Avoid alcohol and eating late at night because it exacerbates snoring. If you think it is a nasal issue, see an ear nose and throat specialist. The bed partner can also try earplugs or various white noise machines.

The basics of snoring...

Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone, although it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight. Snoring has a tendency to worsen with age.

Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for your bed partner. However, if you are a habitual snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you, but you also impair your own sleep quality. Medical assistance is often needed for habitual snorers (and their loved ones) to get a good night's sleep.

What causes snoring?

Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. Air flow can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:

Obstructed nasal airways: Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps can also cause obstruction.

Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption, or use of some sleeping pills. Normal aging causes further relaxation of these muscles.

Bulky throat tissue: Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.

Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.

Using oral and dental devices to treat snoring and sleep apnea.

Snoring is one of the symptoms of a health condition known as sleep apnea, a disorder that is actually quite hard to identify. If you snore, it’s because the relaxed tissues in your throat vibrate as the air you breathe in rushes past them. The problem with sleep apnea is that it is a severe condition requiring immediate treatment. Because of this, dental professionals must determine if the snoring problem signifies the presence of sleep apnea as early as possible.

Oral appliances that treat snoring are small plastic devices worn in the mouth. These appliances help prevent the collapse of the tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat, keeping the airway open during sleep and promoting adequate air intake. Oral appliance therapy involves a proper diagnosis in our office and the selection, proper fitting, and use of a specifically designed oral appliance worn during sleep that maintains an opened, unobstructed airway in the throat.

Snoring does not always indicate sleep apnea.

The problem with excessive snoring is that it can trigger various problems including sleep disturbances, marital discord, and waking episodes. But snoring does not signal the presence of obstructive sleep apnea all the time.

To determine whether snoring is tied to OSA, consider whether these sleep apnea symptoms are also present:

  • pauses that take place while snoring
  • choking or gasping that follows the pauses
  • fighting sleepiness at work, when driving, or during the entire day
  • rapidly falling asleep when inactive
  • morning headaches
  • irritability
  • depression
  • personality changes or mood swings
  • sore throat or dry mouth after waking up
  • the need to wake up frequently to urinate
  • breathing cessation episodes
  • attention problems
  • difficulty staying asleep
  • decreased libido

Health risks associated with Snoring...

Habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea creates several problems, including:

Interruptions of breathing (lasting from a few seconds to minutes) during sleep caused by partial or total obstruction or blockage of the airway.

Frequent waking from sleep, even though you may not realize it.

Light sleeping. Waking up so many times a night interferes with the normal pattern of sleep causing more time to be spent in light sleep than in more restorative, deeper sleep.

Strain on the heart. Prolonged suffering from obstructive sleep apnea often results in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.

Poor night's sleep. This leads to drowsiness during the day and can interfere with your quality of life and increase risk for car accidents.

If your child snores...

It’s not unusual for kids to snore now and then, especially if they have a cold or allergy. But, in some cases, it can be a sign of an infection in the sinuses, throat, lungs, or airways, or possibly sleep apnea. If you’ve noticed that your child snores loudly most nights, talk with the pediatrician about it.

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448 36th Ave NW
Suite 103
Norman, OK 73072
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