Sleep disorders are among the most common health problems in the adult population: According to surveys, about 25% suffer from sleep disorders, while about 10% indicate that often or permanently they do not receive the relaxing benefits of sleep (Robert Koch Institute (2005): Issue 27 - sleep disorders, Federal Health Monitoring System, Munich).
Depending on age and gender, snoring occurs with varying frequency. Scientific surveys show that about 60% of men and 40% of women over the age of 60 snore. At the age of 30, only 10% of men and 5% of women are affected. About 5% of adults, mostly men, suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and recurrent apneas during sleep up to 60 seconds.
At its peak, snoring can achieve a volume of 85 decibels (Herzog et al (2011).: Analysis of snoring sound by psychoacoustic parameters, in: European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, 268: 463-470) - that is the equivalent of a main road or a washing machine during spin cycle.
Part of our respiratory system consists of muscle, this includes in particular the soft tissue of the palate up to the larynx. During sleep, muscle tension decreases and both soft palate and tongue relax. The passing respiratory air makes the tissue vibrate, causing the typical snoring noise. As long as it does not involve a narrowing of the natural airway, this phenomenon is called primary snoring and mostly harmless. Once, however, the airway is being narrowed or even completely blocked, the situation becomes deadly serious: breathing is cut off many times during the night, leading to respiratory disorders or standstills. Starting with a period of 10 seconds, these breathing interruptions are called apneas, originating from the Greek word meaning “still air”.
The obstruction or even complete disruption of breathing leads to a dramatic drop in oxygen saturation in the blood with a simultaneous increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Before the patient is finally threatened by death of suffocation, the brain triggers an automatic wake-up reaction, the so-called arousal. This wake-up reaction leads to an increase in muscle tension and thus to an opening and advancement of the lower jaw: The airway widens and breathing air can once again flow unobstructed.
These apneas can occur up to 60 times per hour, in some cases even up to 100 times per hour.
In addition to age and gender, various risk factors may favour the occurrence of insomnia or apnea:
Sleep apnea involves massive sleep disorders and prevents body and mind from recovering during the important stages of deep sleep.
|Lack of deep sleep stages and|
wake-up reactions due to apnea
|Healthy sleep rhythm with deep sleep phases|
and without wake-up reactions due to apnea
As the patient can no longer benefit from sound sleep, quality of life is significantly decreased. Due to the permanent oxygen deficiency of the body, serious secondary diseases threaten to develop. Major side effects include:
Without treatment, patients suffering from sleep apnea have an increased risk of work and traffic accidents and a reduced life expectancy.
According to current knowledge, primary snoring represents no risk and therefore no need for an aggressive or even invasive treatment. Nevertheless, both patients and their partners often feel that their sleep is no longer refreshing. So as a first step, you should take preventive and conservative measures to reduce your tendency to snore.
Reassess after a few weeks with help of your partner or an adequate snoring app, if you succeeded in reducing your tendency to snore. If this is not the case, please consult a sleep specialist to consider an anti-snoring device such as the TAP® splint as a next step. These splints can be appropriate to treat snoring and light to moderate forms of sleep apnea, helping to reduce your snoring and to bring back sound restful sleep to you and your partner.