Aside from being mega obnoxious to anyone sharing a room with you, snoring seems like a harmless habit.
And while sometimes it is harmless, ignoring snoring that is caused by sleep apnea can prove fatal. So fatal in fact, that those who have and ignore sleep apnea have a 40 percent change of dying earlier than their peers, according to Everyday Health.
So what is your snoring saying?
Not everyone who snores is on the verge of a life threatening health problem. We all snore at some point (think about the last time you had a cold). But if your snoring falls into the following categories, you could have a serious problem on your hands:
Frequent, loud snoring
Waking up abruptly
Waking up with shortness of breath
Gasping for air when you wake up
Difficulties focusing during the day
Drifting off frequently during the day
Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
Being abnormally irritable
Temporarily not breathing while sleeping (noticed by someone else)
If none of those described you and your snoring, you’re probably fine.
But if you could relate to many of those points, it’s possible you have sleep apnea, a disorder where someone sleeping temporarily stops breathing on a regular basis. And you aren’t alone either – it’s pretty common. More than 18 million Americans are diagnosed with sleep apnea, and many others have it without ever realizing it, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but ignoring sleep apnea can be fatal. Because the pause in breathing lasts at least 10 seconds or longer and can happen anywhere from 5 to 100 times in an hour, it can predict these serious health conditions that can come if you don’t get treatment.
When you have periods of not breathing multiple times each night, your oxygen levels in your blood go down, Dr. Eric Cohen, the Medical Director of the Cure Snoring Center wrote in Everyday Health. This can cause your heart rhythm, to flutter, which occurs when people have heart attacks.
Depression is not uncommon with those who have sleep apnea. However, a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine discovered that 73 percent of those who have CPAP (or continuous positive airway pressure) treatment for three months had significant improvement in their depression.
If you are getting up two or more times each night to go to the bathroom, it’s called Nocturia. Oddly, it’s linked to snoring in both men and women and can include the complete loss of bladder control, according to Everyday Health.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology stated “Occasional or regular snoring is associated with increased risk of developing diabetes.” This study took into consideration BMI and other factors that effect diabetes, but even with all of those factors considered, snoring is bad news.
Even primary snoring (snoring without sleep apnea) can increase your risk of stroke, researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit discovered. Snoring can make your arteries harden (similar to what happens with smokers), which then increases your chance of stroke.
“Our study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that isolated snoring may not be as benign as first suspected,” said one of the study’s authors, Robert Deeb. M.D.