Think you can’t possibly be a snorer, or if you do snore, that you’re not at risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? You may be right – but on the other hand, you could be missing information critical to your sleep and your health. What you don’t know can hurt you. Here are 7 common snoring and sleep apnea myths, and what you can do about each.
MYTH #1: Only Men Snore
Anyone who had a snoring grandmother (or whose toddler daughter snores) knows this is pure mythology, but you’d be surprised how many people secretly believe it anyway. It’s true that more men than women snore overall, but women are by no means immune to snoring, and a growing number of women are experiencing OSA.
YOUR FIX: Ask your mate for an honest answer as to whether you snore, or hook yourself up with a snoring app.
MYTH #2: Only Older People Snore
The chance of snoring does increase with age, but snoring is not exclusive to the elderly. Partially due to more children being overweight (but not exclusively for this reason – other factors influence whether a person snores), more children are being diagnosed with snoring, and surprisingly, even OSA.
YOUR FIX: If your child snores more than very lightly, and/or if s/he wakes up or partially awakens gasping or choking, see a doctor and ask for a sleep study. Ditto if you or a loved one snores even if you’re 35, 30, or 20. ANYONE at ANY age can have a snoring issue. Don’t put off this critical step.
MYTH #3: Only Overweight People Snore
We touched on this in Myth #2 above, but it’s worth saying again: being overweight absolutely has an impact on the chances of snoring, but one does not have to be overweight in order to snore. Snoring can have a number of causes, from the temporary (such as a head cold) to the more serious (including issues like polyps or chronic allergies). This means slender people most definitely can snore.
YOUR FIX: If you suspect snoring, see your doctor, even if you are a normal weight and feel healthy otherwise.
MYTH #4: People Who Snore Are Tired During the Day
Frequently this is the case, but not all people who snore feel sleepy during the day. To make this even blurrier an issue, many people in today’s society feel chronically tired due to excessive stress or disordered sleeping in general, so it’s easy to put daytime drowsiness down to these issues.
YOUR FIX: If you suspect snoring, ask your mate to keep track of how often s/he is awakened by your snoring or better yet, install a sleep app or other device to track whether you’re having snoring episodes.
MYTH #5: Allergy-Related Snoring Isn’t Harmful
Any type of snoring can be harmful, as snoring generally means an attempt at more oxygen intake. This means oxygen intake has already been restricted.
YOUR FIX: Doctors are generally quite familiar with allergies and snoring, as well as allergies and sleep issues in general. Ask your doctor for a non habit-forming nighttime solution to your snoring.
MYTH #6: It Can’t Be OSA if You Don’t Wake Up Gasping
With obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the airway is narrowed or completely cut off for brief periods during the night. This may occur several to dozens of times each sleep period. As the body reflexively seeks replacement oxygen, the sufferer will usually wake up gasping or choking. However, some OSA sufferers choke or gasp without fully awakening. In the morning, they’re not aware they ever had the epsiode(s).
YOUR FIX: Ask your doctor for a sleep study if you suspect snoring but ESPECIALLY if you suspect OSA, which can be dangerous over time.
MYTH #7: EVERYBODY Snores. What’s the Big Deal?
Not everyone does snore. Of people who snore, a percentage do so very lightly without ever experiencing a significant loss of oxygen. Snoring is not a joke. It can impact you over time and may even lead to heart attack or stroke, as well as other issues.
YOUR FIX: DON’T panic, but DO address your snoring…period. Don’t put this off. It’s as simple as one doctor’s visit for your own peace of mind, and your own long, healthy future.