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Snoring Is Not Funny

Author: Donald Tanenbaum DDS MPH - Board-Certified Orofacial Pain Specialist at New York TMJ & Orofacial Pain

Date: August 8, 2018

For years snoring has prompted humorous cartoon depictions of bed partners sorting out their different views of the problem and hilarious videos revealing what the non-snoring bed partner will resort to in order to get a good night’s sleep.

The problem with snoring, however, is that both parties – the snorer and snoree (what I call the person who is forced to listen to the noise) are ultimately impacted. Sometimes severely.

Let’s start with the snorer. Although snoring was once regarded as merely an annoyance, research now shows that it is actually the result of airway turbulence, often accompanied by obstructive sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome. Both conditions cause sleep arousals and lead to less than refreshing sleep and excessive daytime drowsiness.

Snoring Is Much More Than An Annoyance

People who have obstructive sleep apnea experience episodes (sometimes lots of them) when their breathing completely stops while they’re asleep. Breathing only resumes when a drop in blood oxygen wakes up the brain and causes them to take a breath. This repetitive cycle of stopping breathing and loss of oxygen to the brain often leads to injury and inflammation in the lining of the blood vessels and cardiac tissue, which makes snorers more susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.

And if that’s not enough, snorers with obstructive sleep apnea airway problems are more likely to have gastrointestinal reflux (heartburn) and experience brain matter degeneration, which is one of the causes of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sadly, the majority of snorers do not realize that their snoring is more than just an annoyance and, therefore, never even think to seek care. The link between snoring and cardiac problems, reflux, and brain degeneration is proof that it’s much more than a social annoyance. Plus, even if the snorer does not have an airway problem, research shows that the vibrational trauma created by snoring will eventually lead to tissue floppiness in the pharynx, which leads to more snoring noise, combined with injury to the nerves that help maintain airway health.

It’s obvious that snoring carries serious health risks for the snorer. But what about the poor snoree?

The Majority Of Snorees Are Women

The majority of snorers are men and, therefore, women are the majority of snorees. Countless women suffer a considerable toll due to the disrupted sleep caused every night by their snoring bed partner. And it’s loud. A snorer’s roar can reach the decibel levels of a construction jackhammer. Imagine trying to sleep with a jackhammer being operated in your bedroom.

For the snoree, constant sleep arousals can lead to chronic muscle and joint pain (TMJ problems included), headaches, daytime sleepiness, and cognitive impairment – to name just a few. In addition, we have evidence that fragmented sleep with multiple arousals can also be responsible for tooth grinding when sleeping.

CPAP Is Not The Only Option

Putting this all together makes a real case for snorers to realize that by not seeking care they’re going way beyond simply being insensitive to their bed partners. Happily, medical professionals now have many ways to treat snoring including oral appliances, which are an extremely helpful therapy for snoring and obstructive apnea. CPAP is not the only option!

So, if you’re a snorer it’s time to get help. Not only is it a smart decision for your health, it’s a smart decision for your relationship, too.

Related Articles by Dr. Tanenbaum:

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea & TMJ 

Snorers! Now A Sleep Study Can Be Done in Your Own Home 

DISCLAIMER: The advice offered in response to your questions is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. Namely, we in no way offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendation for your particular situation. Our intent is solely educational and our responses to your actual questions serve as a springboard to discussion of a variety of dental topics that come up in a day-to-day dental practice. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified professional.

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