You’ve had it. You can’t spend another night listening to your spouse snore, then stop breathing, then snore some more, until he or she stops breathing again.
The snoring keeps you from falling asleep; the breathing stoppages make you worry.
Is something wrong? Is there some way to get relief … and get a good night of sleep?
Yes, there is. You can talk to your spouse, then call 239-734-7737 to schedule a consultation with George A. Hoop, DDS. We have offices in Naples and Fort Myers, FL.
The snoring and the breathing stoppages may be symptoms of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that may be preventing you and your spouse from getting a good night’s sleep.
Why Your Spouse Snores So Loud
Most people snore sometimes, but people with obstructive sleep apnea seem to snore constantly. And, as you already know, they tend to snore rather loudly. (They can be so loud that they even wake themselves up at times.)
Why is this?
Snoring is the result of soft tissue in or near the throat vibrating. Those vibrations become more intense — and therefore louder — as the opening of someone’s airway gets smaller. That’s exactly what’s happening for many people with sleep apnea.
As they fall asleep, the muscles around their airways relax. This allows soft tissue to gradually close in on their airways, making the opening smaller and smaller until it’s closed off completely. That’s when they stop snoring because they also stop breathing.
Many people have told us that it’s terrifying to listen to the love of their life stop breathing for what seems like minutes at a time before they gasp, take a few breaths, and start snoring again.
Deep Sleep is Healthy Sleep
While the noise and your understandable concern are keeping you from sleeping, your spouse isn’t really getting deep, healthy sleep either.
Cycles are part of the sleep process. This starts with light sleep and gradually moves into deep sleep, including REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is when people dream. Health experts believe that deep sleep is necessary to recuperate from our daily activities, which is why it also can be helpful when someone is ill.
Without deep sleep, people suffer from sleep deprivation. This can have mild symptoms like forgetfulness and difficulty staying focused on a task or a project.
It can also lead to daytime sleepiness. This can be embarrassing if it happens at work, frustrating if it happens when you want to watch your favorite team on television, or dangerous if you are behind the wheel of a car or truck.
And that is a real concern. The journal Sleep has reported that people with untreated sleep apnea are more than twice as likely as other drivers to be involved in a car collision.
When someone has sleep apnea, they drift into light sleep, but they stop breathing before they reach the stages of deep sleep. Their body will wake them up so they can take a few breaths, and then they drift off again.
The constant breathing stoppages also can cause their bodies to release a stress hormone. This could help explain why people with sleep apnea also are more likely to have high blood pressure, heart attacks, cardiovascular disease, and strokes.
A Treatment to Help You Rest
To treat sleep apnea, the person with it must have a way to keep breathing when they fall asleep.
For a long time, the best option was CPAP therapy. This requires the patient to wear a mask with a tube connecting it to a fan. This forces air into their airway to keep it open.
Many people find the masks uncomfortable to wear. Some find that noise of the machine keeps them awake. For these and other reasons, many people give up on their CPAP after a short time.
Dr. Hoop has a different solution that has worked for many of our patients in Naples and Fort Myers. He can design a special mouthguard for your spouse. This mouthguard changes the position of his or her jaw by moving it forward slightly. That adjustment is all many people need to keep their airways open throughout the night.
That means they can finally get the deep sleep they’ve been missing. It also can significantly reduce the frequency and the volume of their snoring, so you can get a good night’s sleep, too.