A consistent lack of sleep affects every part of our day-to-day lives, and if poor sleep is caused by snoring, it can also have serious impacts on our overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) considers insufficient sleep a public health epidemic and reports as many as 70 million adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep disorders, most notably snoring.
Snoring can be caused by a number of factors, including sleep apnea. When the tongue relaxes too much during sleep, it falls into the back of the throat and causes an airway obstruction, which is why we snore. Over time, this persistent obstruction in the airway keeps us from getting restful sleep due to snoring and can create a number of health problems.
What are Some Common Health Problems Related to Insufficient Sleep?
1. Diabetes is often linked to snoring or sleep apnea and approximately 58 percent of people with diabetes also have a problem with breathing while they sleep. An increase in snoring can also cause an insulin resistance.
2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), AKA acid reflux, occurs when stomach bile or acid irritates the lining of the esophagus. The change in air pressure caused by snoring can exacerbate GERD, especially for those who are overweight.
3. Arrhythmias, or an irregular beating of the heart, are more common in people who snore. Researchers believe that snoring and obstructive sleep apnea enlarge the heart’s left atrium over a period of time.
4. Stroke can occur when the arteries to the brain narrow or get blocked due to clotting. Studies have shown that regular and intense snoring is a signal that blood vessels leading to the brain have thickened and narrowed. This puts people at greater risk of having a stroke.
5. Weight Gain or Obesity is another concern related to snoring. While many overweight people snore, the lack of restful slumber makes it more difficult to shed unwanted pounds, causing a vicious cycle. Losing weight lessens snoring and improves sleep.
6. Cardiovascular Disease includes blood clots, clogged arteries and structural issues in the heart. People who snore regularly are more likely, according to clinical studies, to suffer from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, two factors that lead to heart disease.
7. Nocturia is the problem of waking up several times a night to urinate. There is a link to both men and women, usually 55 and older, who snore due to obstructive sleep apnea.
8. Headaches can greatly decrease quality of life. People who snore on a regular basis report a higher occurrence of morning headaches. Some researchers believe that a poor supply of oxygen to the brain, caused by snoring, might be the culprit.
9. A Healthy Sex Life has all sorts of physical and mental benefits. Sleep research has shown that men who snore loudly and regularly have less sexual satisfaction, even in the absence of any sex related health issues. Experts think it might be exhaustion related to snoring that keeps them from enjoying sexual intimacy with their partners.
10. Physical Injury might seem like a strange health issue related to snoring, but daytime sleepiness puts individuals at serious risk for accidents, such as vehicle crashes.
11. Depression and Anxiety are well-known side effects of sleep deprivation. Our brains need the same good sleep that our bodies require. Without it, a chemical imbalance will develop, leading to anxiety and an unhappiness that has the potential to produce difficult emotional symptoms.
12. Cancer risk is tied to snoring and sleep apnea, and sleep duration is important for cancer survival rates, according toDr. Amanda Phipps of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Ensuring a good night’s sleep is important. Take the right steps, such as avoiding alcohol, large late night meals and regular exercise, to improve your sleep and your overall health. At some point, it may be necessary to take additional measures and invest in an anti-snoring device or see a sleep specialist who can perform a proper sleep study.