The importance of sleep has been emphasized for years because of its positive effects toward health. Unfortunately, there are factors that can interrupt your peaceful sleep and cause unwanted complications. For some, sleep disturbances can be caused by snoring. This is a hoarse or harsh sound that develops when breathing is obstructed in some way during sleep.
According to SleepEducation.org, about half of people snore at some point in their lives. Snoring tends to be more common in men than in women. It usually runs in families and becomes more common as people get older.1 However, snoring shouldn’t be dismissed as a normal nightly occurrence, because it may be a sign of a disorder called sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea, which was named after a Greek word meaning “want of breath,”2 occurs when a partial or complete obstruction in the airway causes impaired breathing during sleep.3 While snoring is sometimes classified as the first sign of sleep apnea, there are four other types, namely:
- Central sleep apnea (CSA)
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Upper airway respiratory syndrome (UARS)
- Mixed sleep apnea
Sleep apnea can affect both children and adults.4 It manifests in 65% of all elderly men and 56% of senior women.5 Different causes of sleep apnea have been determined, including mechanical problems, poor nutrition and an existing disease, to name a few.6
Sleep apnea by the numbers
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects over 18 million adults in the U.S. As many as 10% to 20% of children who habitually snore may also suffer from this type of sleep disorder.7 What’s alarming is that only 20% of people with sleep apnea have been properly diagnosed and treated.8 Research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine also pointed out that African-Americans have a higher OSA risk compared to Caucasians.9
Sleepiness and lack of concentration are among the many negative side effects of sleep apnea, which can make a person more likely to be involved in a car accident.10 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration notes that in 2017, sleepy drivers were responsible for 91,000 police-reported car crashes. These incidents caused 50,000 injuries and nearly 800 deaths.11
There are ways to address sleep apnea
It’s never too early to resolve sleep apnea and bring back the high-quality rest you need. Browse these pages to become informed about sleep apnea’s common symptoms and causes, as well as the natural treatments and lifestyle changes that may help you address and prevent this disorder.