Between 35 to 50% of people snore at night, with nearly 40 million Americans experiencing sleep disturbances and sleep apnea. While men and women both snore, men are the most likely to do so. Snoring occurs more frequently in older people, but age is not necessarily a factor.
Snoring is not usually a cause for concern; it isn’t necessarily a medical problem. It does affect the quality of your sleep and the sleep of your partner, though, and it can have negative effects on your health and your relationships. Because sleep is the time your body restores itself, a lack of quality sleep will ultimately wear down not only the snorer, but everyone else around him. Snoring can have adverse effects on everyone.
When snoring is because of a medical issue, it is known as Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea involves breathing that is inconsistent caused by temporary blockages of the airway. This happens when your tongue falls back into the airway, blocking it completely, or the airway is partially blocked by position or other factors. When these blockages happen you will struggle, snorting and gasping, for air as your throat muscles contract and you are awakened by shortness of breath. While this is happening, your carbon dioxide levels in your blood will rise as your oxygen levels fall. The entire process repeats itself as you fall back to sleep.
Sleep apnea affects over 10% of adults, but it is unclear how many struggle with it and remain undiagnosed.
Outwardly, people who have sleep apnea show a decrease in their ability to focus and concentrate while having an increase in headaches, lethargy, and irritability. This is because people who have sleep apnea are unable to get a restful night’s sleep.
Some contributing factors that lead to sleep apnea are obesity, allergies, alcohol consumption, sleep positions, and a deviated septum. Sleep apnea can also develop if the spine is out of alignment.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea. It is a serious health problem because the blockage of the airways means that oxygen is not getting to the brain; chronic obstructive sleep apnea can lead to devastating health consequences.
The University of California has found that there can be serious health affects in long term sleep apnea patients, caused by the interruption of the flow of oxygen leading to intermittent high blood pressure episodes. In time, this can cause:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular problems
- Heart disease
- Chronic inflammation
- Memory loss
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
Your snoring may need to be evaluated if you experience these symptoms:
- Your partner reports loud and irregular snoring patterns
- Restless sleep that is not restorative
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Headaches on waking
- Sore throat on waking
Snore Prevention Tips
If you are snoring, there are some steps you can take to lessen your risk of developing chronic sleep apnea.
- Don’t drink alcohol before bed. Alcohol causes snoring and an unrestful night’s sleep.
- Try to sleep on your side. This promotes a straight and unobstructed airway.
- Elevate your upper torso with a wedge pillow. Elevating your head only may result in an obstructed airway.
- Purchase nasal strips to help to hold your nasal passages open to keep them from becoming blocked and increase your oxygen levels as you sleep.
- Consider acupuncture.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Excess weight can cause pressure on the diaphragm, obstructing your breathing.
- Avoid large meals later in the night.
- Consider diagnostics:
- Sleep centers: Sleep centers have trained professionals who will monitor your sleep over the course of several nights, checking for signs of sleep apnea. Your results will be discussed with your doctor, and if you have sleep apnea, possible treatment plans such as a CPAP will be explored. You must spend at least one to three nights sleeping under observation in the sleep center.
- Apnea Risk Evaluation System: This is an FDA prescription only device that will assess you for sleep apnea. It keeps track of pulse, head positioning, and oxygen levels in the blood by attaching to your forehead while you sleep. The information collected will be sent to the company where it will be interpreted. The data will be used by your physician to provide a possible treatment plan if sleep apnea is indicated from this diagnostic tool.
- Make an appointment for evaluation of your snoring with a chiropractor. He will examine your spine and see if chiropractic treatment can help your snoring.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
Historically, the most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device. These machines are cumbersome and inconvenient. They must be worn nightly and packed with you when you are spending the night away from home. CPAP machines have proven effective in treating the symptoms of sleep apnea, but they do not treat the underlying cause. Most of them are very loud, interrupting sleep for yourself and your partner. Additionally, the tubing and mouthpieces on the CPAP machines can be very costly and need to be replaced frequently. The machine itself requires maintenance and cleaning, as do the accessories.
Obstructive sleep apnea may have its roots in physical issues, such as spinal misalignment and cervical subluxations. Chiropractic treatments can address these issues and stop chronic obstructive sleep apnea at its source.
If your spine is out of alignment, your central nervous system cannot relay signals to the body, or severe subluxations can restrict your airway to the point that obstruction can occur. Both are common reasons a person may develop sleep apnea, and both are correctable by a knowledgeable chiropractor.
Chiropractic treatment of sleep apnea targets subluxations and misalignments of the spine with focused adjustments. These misalignments can occur from an injury, poor posture, or a sedentary lifestyle. The vertebral discs can become damaged along with the misaligned vertebrae. When these physical issues are corrected, your central nervous system will begin to function properly again, resulting in normalized sleeping patterns.
Unlike CPAP treatment, chiropractic treatment of sleep apnea provides a complete treatment program to address its underlying cause. CPAP is a temporary solution, while chiropractic care is a long-term answer to sleep apnea.
Chiropractors will use a corrective technique called Chiropractic Biophysics. CPB is a well-researched, scientifically based treatment that is focused on positive results and a healthy spine. A trained CBP professional will eliminate nerve interference while addressing the sources of disease, pain and fatigue. The process, like all chiropractic treatments, will provide painless, gentle, and completely non-invasive relief by the gentle realignment of the spine.
In addition to physically correcting issues that could be leading to your sleep apnea, your chiropractor will be able to advise you on changes you can make at home to promote a deep, restorative sleep. These topics can include sleeping positions and lifestyle changes.
If you’ve always snored, or have just started snoring, and you can never get a good, restful night’s sleep no matter what you have tried in the past, contact your chiropractor now to discuss your treatment options. He will have some effective plans to address the issues so that you can finally get the restorative sleep you deserve.