According to a study, a person who snores or wakes up several times in the night may be causing more harm to himself, and being more than a nuisance to others.
Sleep apnea refers to disturbances that occur during sleep. There are many types of this disorder, yet the most common is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.
This is caused by the collapse of throat tissues during sleep and can occur in all types of people. Yet it is most common in those who have high blood pressure, large tonsils, and nasal congestion or are overweight. It is more common in males over age 40. Women who have a neck circumference larger than 16 inches are at an increased risk for OSA.
Says Dr. Nidhi Undevia of Loyola University 's Center for Sleep Disorders, "Sleep apnea temporarily stops a person from breathing, possibly hundreds of times each night.
"As a result, oxygen levels may decrease and carbon dioxide levels may increase. Both are harmful.
"With no air coming in, your brain automatically wakes you up and you choke and gasp for air. This stresses the heart and can increase blood pressure. Once breathing returns, you might go back to sleep but only until the throat tissues again collapse. This cycle can repeat every few minutes, interrupting your sleep."
Sleep apnea is said to a be a potentially deadly, but easily treatable disorder, that raises the risk of stroke or heart attacks. Hence doctors advise early diagnosis by a study called the polysomnogram.
According to Dr. Sean M. Caples, of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Minneapolis, there is abundant physiologic evidence implicating obstructive sleep apnea in perpetuating, if not inciting, heart failure. Along with his team, he published findings pointing to this conclusion in the journal Sleep.
Dr. Lawrence Epstein, past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine notes that treating sleep disorders and getting adequate amounts of sleep are important factors in good cardiovascular health.
"Sleep apnea is a know risk factor for the development of hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Also, chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to change metabolic function in a way that promotes weight gain and diabetes, two risk factors for heart disease", he says.