Your Guide to Sleep Apnea vs Snoring
A lot of people snore. But while most people are concerned that they’re disrupting their spouse’s sleep or seem funny and awkward when they snore, you have to be wary that your snoring is not a symptom of a more dangerous condition called sleep apnea.
This condition occurs when the air passage is completely blocked and you can no longer breathe. Your body has to consciously or unconsciously wake up so that you can start breathing again.
While sleep apnea does disrupt your sleep, it poses much bigger problems than that. It has been known to trigger depression, heart attack and stroke.
Many people who snore think nothing of their snoring. They consider it harmless though inconvenient. And the only thing they resort to in order to treat their condition is the use of home remedies for snoring or even a snoring mouthpiece.
But if you have sleep apnea you should see a doctor. You may tend to overlook this and think it’s not really necessary but you should consider your health and well being.
Not sure if you have sleep apnea? Here are some basic signs that will indicate you have this problem:
- You’re always sleepy during the day.
Majority of people feel lethargic after eating a hearty lunch but if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and yet still feel sleepy when you wake up then it could signal a problem. You may be suffering from a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA which wakes you up several times during the time (often unconsciously) thereby keeping you from being able to sleep well.
- You experience headaches especially when you wake up.
One of the main problems when a person has sleep apnea is that they have reduced oxygen flow to their brain. This in turn causes them to experience headaches.
- You have a thicker neck.
When your neck is wider or thicker, it could mean that it houses fatty tissues which effectively blocks the airways. When your airway is completely blocked you are likely to develop sleep apnea.
- You find yourself gasping for air when sleeping.
If you have noticed that you have a tendency to gasp for air during your sleep or that your partner tells you you sometimes pause your breathing when asleep then this could be a strong indicator of sleep apnea.
- You’ve become more forgetful.
Having difficulty concentrating? Having trouble remembering simple details? That means your brain isn’t functioning completely. This could be due to your lack of sleep brought about by sleep apnea.
- You’ve gained weight.
OK just to make it clear: sleep apnea does not make you fat. However, it does become a precursor to weight gain. That’s because when you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, you crave for high calorie foods, caffeine, desserts, and just about anything tha will spike up your insulin levels. This makes you feel more energetic and then will also make you feel hungrier more often than normal.
I would recommend that you first check other possible reasons for gaining weight before you immediately conclude it’s sleep apnea.
Now that you know the most common indicators of sleep apnea, you need to think long and hard to determine if you have this condition. Before that, here are some key points to consider:
- Not all snorers have sleep apnea. If you aren’t sure, you should see a doctor.
- Your health is crucial. Never think lightly of sleep apnea.
Now that we have established the need for proper diagnosis, you may be wondering, “Can I just use home sleep apnea tests instead of seeing a doctor?”
The truth is, you can. There’s a way to effectively diagnose sleep apnea by undergoing a sleep study. It’s called Polysomnography and it is commonly used to screen patients for sleeping disorders including sleep apnea.
Polysomnography is often performed in sleep centers and they will observe your body’s response, track your breathing patterns and eye movements, the amount of oxygen in your blood as well as your heart rate. You will be connected to some sensors which will generate the data to assess whether you have sleep apnea or not.
But here’s the thing: these sleep studies are very expensive! They cost anywhere from $2500 to $4000 and that does not include follow up visits. If you have insurance then this may not be a problem however if your insurance policy does not cover such treatments then shelling out thousands of dollars can be too much.
The good news is you can use home sleep apnea tests which cost around $250. How do these kits work?
Well, it works just like the sleep centers’ monitoring devices. You would normally need to rent these devices and have the data analyzed by a doctor.
Your home sleep apnea test kit includes:
– heart rate monitor
– breathing sensors (which will be connected to your mouth and nose)
– a strap that detects the movements in your chest
– a blood oxygen monitor
You will need to rent these things for 1 to 3 days before you can return them for analysis. You can even find these companies online online and they also provide online diagnosis.
Home Test Kit vs. Sleep Study
Home test kits are definity cheaper. A sleep lab costs $2,500 to $4,000 while a home test kit costs only around $250. There’s a huge price difference.
However, there are complaints as to the accuracy of home test kits. Evidently, they do help determine if you have sleep apnea but sleep studies are more accurate. Moreover, sleep studies can also diagnose other sleep disorders. Generally speaking however, home test kits are effective and they work pretty well.
If the results of your diagnosis shows you don’t have sleep apnea but you do have a snoring problem, then you may want to focus on this particular issue.
For those who snore but don’t have sleep apnea, you can consider the option of using an anti snoring mouthpiece. On this site, I have compiled a list of the best snoring mouthpieces after having tested hundreds of snoring mouthguards personally.
Check out my best recommendations here.