The Harvard Heart Letter, November issue, offers the sombering news that if you or a loved one is snoring through the night with "snorts, whistles and gasps" then the snorechestra is a possible if not probable sign of sleep apnea, which could lead to both heart disease and a shorter life span.
People with sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. The more common form, obstructive sleep apnea, has the soft palate tissue closing off the airway numerous times. The brain will respond with a "breathe now" command that temporarily wakens the person and they gasp and breathe, only to fall back asleep until the pattern repeats. In the interum, the heart is forced to beat faster to provide more oxygenated blood to deprived organs and inflammation is stoked. The inflammation can damage blood vessels and increase the blood's tendency to clot (a clearly implicated process in heart disease and stroke).
Experts recommend that you not "take sleep apnea lying down." This is a serious medical condition that warrants investigation and treatment. One of the biggest steps you can take is to lose weight. Also try to sleep on your side and avoid alcohol. You may need the assistance of a C-PAP machine to prevent these lapses in breathing (it prevents the soft palate induced closure). If you cannot tolerate the C-PAP face mask, the Bi-PAP auto may be a better choice for you.
Published On: November 01, 2008