As you may know, one of the big symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. We often think that the typical subject of this sleep disorder is a middle aged man who is a bit overweight, but in fact everyone can suffer from periods where they stop breathing during the night that last from seconds to minutes. Men, women, adults and children can all experiences these pauses many times per hour. It is important to note however that not all people who snore have sleep apnea, and that not everyone who has this disorder will snore either.
There are three principal types of apneas that can happen while sleeping: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA), and complex sleep apnea. OSA is the most common, and it is also the most likely to cause snoring in a person. It happens when the airways become obstructed during sleep, causing snoring and snorting sounds.
On the other hand, people who suffer from CSA don’t usually snore. Or if they do, it is not because of their apnea. During CSA, the brain fails to send the signal to breathe. This results in long pauses in breathing at night by the person who suffers from this disorder. The person will appear to be calm and restful, but you will see no conscious efforts made to inhale more air. This is the most dangerous of the three types of apneas, as the pauses in breathing can last minutes.
Complex or mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both types of apneas (OSA and CSA). This means that it can be accompanied by heavy snoring as well.
As you see, snoring and sleep apnea can be related. In any case, mild snoring is very normal for a person at night. However, if the snoring is accompanied by the other symptoms such as constant daytime fatigue, depression, mood changes, restless sleep, long pauses in breathing during the night and morning headaches, it is a good idea to consult a doctor and bring the possibility that you might be experiencing a type of apnea during your sleep. He will be able to help you diagnose your exact condition, often through the use of a sleep apnea test which you can either take at home or in a specialized clinic, and offer you treatment options that will only increase your quality of life tenfold.