Is snoring sinister?
Have you ever been told that you snore before? I certainly had been told a few years back; however, I did not truly grasp at the time, how detrimental this was to my health. If you struggle with sleep, don’t feel you are alone. Sleep disorders have become a common complaint in today’s fast paced world. Poor sleep can have impacts on a range of health and wellbeing factors, including mental health, heart health, obesity, and diabetes. Poor sleep has also been associated to well reported disasters within the workplace, such as the Exxon Valdez disaster.
In 2012, sleep certainly was not a friend of mine, and I felt I was rapidly sinking into a pit of despair. I was tired, depressed, anxious, and feeling like life was a massive struggle. I felt like I was in some kind of time warp, similar to Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Speaking with a psychologist about my concerns, she asked me a simple question which would change my life.
“Do you snore?”
For a moment, I was going to tell a little lie and say no to save myself from embarrassment. However, given the rut I was in, I confessed that I snored. What happened from that moment would be life changing. My psychologist explained that snoring may be a sign of sleep apnoea. Until this time, I had always thought it was a condition where someone stopped breathing in their sleep, and was only limited to morbidly obese individuals. I was wrong. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is a condition where the muscles in the back of a person’s throat and tongue relax during sleep, resulting in a blockage of the airway.
Still not convinced I could possibly be suffering from this condition, I checked myself in for a sleep study at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane. The morning after the study, I had a follow-up with the sleep physician to get my results. He told me I had the loudest snoring he had ever heard and recorded during a sleep study assessment. Take a look below at my snore level.
It is at the maximum the snore loudness will register. In addition, he confirmed what the psychologist had suspected. I was suffering from sleep apnoea. During the assessment, I had 11.4 obstructions per night. No wonder I was tired!! What can occur is the momentary obstruction of your airway deprives your body of oxygen, then after a moment, your brain jolts into action to wake you up to recommence breathing. This explained why I was so tired; my poor body was not resting. It was working all night to keep me alive by waking me up to breathe.
Not too long after this assessment, I commenced CPAP therapy which greatly improved my sleep, and started to gradually improve other aspects of my health and wellbeing. The reason I share my story is to raise awareness about sleep, and the effects of poor sleep both from a psychological and physiological perspective. It is important to stress that sleep apnoea is only one of many sleep disorders that exist. Other disorders include restless legs syndrome, insomnia, and circadian rhythm disorders.
What to do if sleep isn’t your friend
There are plenty of online resources freely available on sleep education and tips on how to get a good night sleep. These include basic sleep hygiene practices such as avoiding certain foods and beverages (e.g. caffeine late in the day), restricting the bedroom to sleep, and limiting the use of electronics (e.g. phones, iPads) late at night. However, if sleep problems persist, consult your healthcare professional for guidance. You never know, you may have sinister snoring as I did, and could be getting the help you need right now.