Snoring and Sleep

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“Ask The Experts” is written and provided by Scholarship Media. It does not reflect the views of The Collegian or its advertisers.

I’ve been a snorer for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, my friends would tease me about it after sleepovers (sometimes they’d even sleep in a different room), and my sister would complain and make sure both our doors were closed every night. I could laugh it off then, but now that I’m in college and have a roommate, it’s becoming a serious problem. My roommate is beside herself and is talking about trying to get her room switched over my snoring. I feel terrible, but it’s not like I’m doing this on purpose! Don’t a lot of people snore? Why is my snoring such a problem for people? What can I do about it? Please help!

You are certainly right that a lot of people snore. Among normal adults, 45% snore at least occasionally. Habitual snorers like yourself account for 25% of the adult population–so one in every four people you meet is likely to be a fellow serial snorer!

But not all snoring problems are created equal. It’s one thing to be an occasional snorer, another to be a habitual snorer, and still another to have a serious snoring problem that could be a sign of a medical issue.

Sleep apnea, for instance, is a common cause of severe snoring. Though numbers vary, some experts estimate that as many as 50% of all chronic snorers may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which sufferers actually pause their breathing (or breathe very shallowly) at points while sleeping. In extreme cases, pauses in regular breathing can last several minutes. There are treatments for sleep apnea, including CPAP machines, which are often worn like masks and use mild air pressure to make sure that the wearer keeps breathing normally all night long.

Sleep apnea is just one possible cause of snoring. Issues with the nose and mouth, oral surgeons say, can cause snoring as well. So can everything from sleep deprivation to excessive alcohol consumption.

In other words, if your snoring is so severe and so chronic that it’s causing you distress, it may be time to bring this problem up to your doctor. Only a medical professional can give you advice that takes your specific symptoms into account, so don’t rely on self-diagnosis. While the experts can tell you that, in general, there are a lot of ways to end up with a snoring problem, only your doctor can say which, if any, are at play in your particular case.

Once you know what sorts of issues are causing your snoring, you can take the appropriate action–whether that means nasal strips, a CPAP machine, oral surgery, or just a set of earplugs for your roommate! Hopefully you’ll find that tackling your issue from a medical perspective makes it easier to find low-stress solutions to your stressful problem.

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