Snoring is only a nuisance for most people and their bed partners. But if it co-occurs with sleep apnea, it can have far-reaching implications that worsen with age. Barry Chase DDS from Chase Dental SleepCare uses epigenetics and other advanced modalities to address sleep disorders. Here are the potential risks and complications that arise from snoring and sleep disturbances.
Sleep interruptions and fatigue
Snoring is noisy breathing that occurs due to blockages in the nasal airways. Weak muscles in your throat and tongue can collapse while sleeping, causing loud breathing.
Blockages in the nasal airways may cause choking and gasping. If the gasping lasts more than 10 seconds, you probably have sleep apnea. The episodes, also known as arousals, can happen hundreds of times a night.
People with sleep apnea often awaken with a dry mouth and headaches. It is common for patients to have episodes of daytime sleepiness due to nighttime sleep disturbances.
Irritability and frequent headaches
The body typically goes through four stages, which may repeat about four times a night. Multiple episodes of sleep disturbances affect the sleep cycle and prevent you from attaining deep sleep.
The deep sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phases are the most crucial for healing the mind and the body. According to the American Sleep Foundation, deep sleep regulates hormones and restores brain function and physical health.
Therefore, sleep interruptions cause irritability and memory problems. The body is deprived of REM sleep, which is critical for learning and cognitive performance. Sleep apnea can cause clouded thinking and make it difficult to focus at work.
Arrhythmia and heart disease
Snoring and sleep disturbances increase the risk of irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. Statistics show a quarter of patients with arrhythmia have sleep apnea. Atrial Fibrillation is the most common type of arrhythmia affecting people with sleep apnea.
Scientists are yet to establish the exact mechanism underlying arrhythmia in sleep apnea patients. But the cause could be interruptions in breathing affecting blood circulation back to the heart. The changes in blood flow may cause irregular heartbeats.
Sleep interruptions may also influence the parasympathetic system, a network of nerves that regulates digestion and rest. The body switches between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, resulting in an irregular heart rate.
Stress and cognitive problems
Research indicates quality sleep has beneficial effects on mood and mental health. Disorders like obstructive sleep apnea can cause or worsen psychological problems.
Sleep disruptions prevent proper consolidation of mood and memory during the REM phase. Sleep apnea triggers mental disorders by influencing the brain’s cognitive and emotional reactivity.
Most people with sleep apnea may experience mild to moderate symptoms, including irritability and inability to focus. But if the disruptions are frequent, they may cause severe symptoms like depression or suicidal ideation.
Additionally, fatigue causes the body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol concentration not only increases the risk of diabetes and heart disease, but it can also cause depression. Long-term exposure can affect the hippocampus responsible for learning and memory.
To learn more about sleep disorders, call Chase Dental SleepCare to schedule your consultation today.