Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, although they are closely related. As sleep apnea often starts with intense snoring. Which is why we are here to help you decipher the difference between sleep apnea and snoring, in order to better take care of yourself, and get better sleep. So let’s get to it on our guide Sleep Apnea vs Snoring: How To Tell The Difference.
What Is The Difference Between Sleep Apnea & Snoring?
The main difference between generic snoring and sleep apnea, is that sleep apnea obstructs your airway to a degree that causes you to stop breathing for periods of time throughout the night. As you sleep your soft palate relaxes to the point that is covers your airways. For the brief moments when you stop breathing your body wakes itself up with a small kick of adrenaline in order to get you to start breathing again.
This is highly disruptive to a deep and productive nights rest, and well as potentially very dangerous for your health. While snoring can be disruptive to you or your partner’s sleep, it is generally rather harmless.
Do I Have Sleep Apnea or Am I Just Snoring?
In order to truly know whether or not you have sleep apnea, or you’re just snoring is by visiting your doctor and doing a sleep study. Either with a Polysonogram (PSG) which detects everything from your heart rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure, chest rise and fall, and so on. These tests are usually done during an overnight sleep study at the doctors.
There are also now at home sleep studies with portable monitors. These tests are less detailed than the PSGs. However, they can often still be used by a doctor to diagnose whether or not what you are experiencing is in fact sleep apnea.
Learn more about snoring in our post: Snoring Causes & Cures
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Morning headaches
- Episodes where you stop breathing during sleep
- Waking up gasping for air during sleep
- Waking up with a sore throat
- Waking up with a dry mouth and throat
- Trouble staying asleep
- Extreme lack of energy throughout the day
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are some rather common triggers for sleep apnea. As well as health conditions that can make you more susceptible to developing sleep apnea. Although you do not necessarily need to have any of these conditions to experience sleep apnea, they are commonly linked.
Commonly Linked With Sleep Apnea…
- Excessive Weight – Added weight to your body can increase the weight around your chest neck and around your throat. Which can cause sleep apnea.
- Being Male – While there is debate on the reasoning why, men are two to three times more likely to experience sleep apnea than women.
- Menopause – After menopause, women are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
- Stroke – Having a stroke increases the likelihood that you will experience sleep apnea.
- Neck Circumference – If the circumference of your neck is larger it is more likely that pressure is put onto your airways. Making it more likely for you to experience sleep apnea.
- Narrowed Airway – If for any reason your airways are smaller, due to scarring or acid reflux or any number of other reasons, this can add to the likelihood of you having sleep apnea.
- Aging – As you age, you are more likely to develop sleep apnea.
- Alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers – All of these put you into a very deep state of sleep, often less productive sleep that makes it harder for you to wake up. This often over relaxes your muscles like the ones in your throat. Allowing for your soft palate to block your airways and causing increases in snoring and sleep apnea.
- Smoking – The irritation caused by smoking can inflame your airways and make it more likely for you to develop sleep apnea.
You May Also Like: Is Sleep Different For Men and Women?
How To Treat Sleep Apnea:
- Avoid Alcohol & Sedatives
- Lose Weight
- Treat Acid Reflux & Inflammation
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) Machines
- Surgery (tissue removal, tissue shrinkage, etc.)
- Stop Smoking
Sleep Apnea vs Snoring: Any Questions?
More than likely, you know whether or not you snore. The trick is to determining whether your snoring is harmless or if it is developing into more seriously condition, sleep apnea. If you are wondering whether or not you have sleep apnea, our #1 suggestion is to talk to your doctor.
While you can record and track your snoring with different recording devices and listen for pauses in breaths. This will not be nearly as effective as the tracking devices that your doctor uses to diagnose sleep apnea. Talking to your doctor is the best way to check on your overall health and well being while also getting medical advice for treatments that will work best for you.