Snore-Busting Myths and Misconceptions: Clearing Up the Confusion Around Sleep Disorders

Sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and snoring, are often misdiagnosed due to misconceptions surrounding snoring and alcohol consumption. A specialist at the Sleep Disorders Clinic of UNAM, explains the causes and risks of these disorders and offers tips for avoiding snoring.

Snore-Busting Myths and Misconceptions: Clearing Up the Confusion Around Sleep Disorders
Snoring, a symptom that something is wrong.

Most sleep disorders aren't properly diagnosed because of myths, like the idea that snoring means you're in deep sleep or that drinking alcohol before bed will help you sleep better. However, drinking alcohol relaxes the throat muscles, which makes it more likely that you'll snore.

This is according to the specialist of the Sleep Disorders Clinic (CTS) of the Faculty of Medicine of the UNAM, Selenne Verde Tinoco, who pointed out that there is also the possibility of normalizing snoring and getting used to living with it.

The two most common disorders in Mexico are obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, which is a sign of a sleep disorder called hypersomnolence. Snoring is another common disorder in Mexico.

The first is caused by an abnormality in the airway, such as a wide tongue and nose or nasal septum deviation, a drooping or elongated palate, or a low or enlarged uvula. When these are anatomically larger, they obstruct the air passage.

Because we sleep mostly on our backs, these muscles move backward and block the flow of air. This causes breathing pauses that can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 3–5 minutes and is accompanied by vibrations in a specific muscle of our collapsed airway, which is called snoring.

Second, several factors, including the shape of your mouth and sinuses, being overweight, consuming alcohol right before bed, having a stuffy nose, or sleeping on your back, can contribute to snoring.

This health problem is more frequent in the male population. In the last two years, of the 50 percent of those who requested consultation at the Disorders Clinic, on average, 20 percent suffered from insomnia and 30 percent from snoring or another type of respiratory disorder.

Snoring increases the heart rate (the heart beats faster), decreases the amount of oxygenation in the brain and causes the loss of neurons. "These desaturations could put us at risk for heart and brain diseases, heart attacks, and, most importantly, they could affect our quality of life during the day."

Also, when we sleep less at night, we don't get as much restful sleep. This can have a big effect on our mood, cause memory problems like minor forgetfulness, and even cause car accidents because we might fall asleep while driving. even the development of chronic degenerative diseases such as hypertension and uncontrolled diabetes.

Being overweight and obese are also important indicators for the development of sleep-disordered breathing. In this sense, neck circumference is a significant factor: "over 40 centimeters in diameter represents an excess of adipose tissue in that area of the body, which, during the night, goes backward, causing the presence of a sleep disturbance."

Snoring can be caused by pauses in breathing that close off our airways and make it hard for air to flow through. A large body part that makes noises or vibrations in the airways, such as the tonsils or adenoids, may also be the cause.

This condition is the reason why roommates don't get a good night's sleep, which the snorer won't know about. A bed partner will have to tell him about his breathing problems.

Another sign of the condition is that the person wakes up with a dry mouth and a dry feeling in the throat. The cause of this is snoring and choking during the night, and it's also possible that they wake up with a headache, which is a sign of poor sleep.

To avoid snoring, she recommends controlling our body weight and not drinking alcohol at night, as well as sleeping on our side because sleeping on our backs may exacerbate the problem. The important thing is that an expert in sleep medicine performs timely detection through a clinical, individualized, and comprehensive consultation through a study in which the record of a night's sleep is kept in a laboratory.

"That is to say when the patient comes to the CTS, we do a mapping, an encephalographic recording of different brain signals while we sleep, as well as respiratory and movement variables to determine if there is the presence of a respiratory disorder. Based on this, surgical treatment is established to cut an anesthetic structure if necessary.