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Causes of Sleep Loss

Unable to get a good night’s sleep? If you snore frequently, it may be a sign of sleep apnea. Learn more about normal sleep patterns for children and adults.

What Causes Snoring?

If the airway is obstructed in any way, preventing air from flowing through the mouth or nose, snoring can occur. Some examples of how the airway can be obstructed include: 

  • If the throat or tongue muscles become too relaxed, they can fall back and obstruct the airway.
  • Allergies, sinus infections, a deviated septum, and other nasal issues can prevent air from flowing through the nose, leading to obstruction.
  • Some individuals may have excessive tissue that can obstruct the airway, such as a long uvula and/or long soft palate. These structures may vibrate against each other, narrowing the airway and causing an obstruction.
  • Young children may snore due to their tonsils and adenoids obstructing the airway.
  • Bulky throat tissue that obstructs the airway can sometimes be associated with individuals who are overweight. 

Fortunately, there are several remedies designed to help stop snoring, leading to a better night’s sleep for you and/or your partner. That being said, keep in mind that habitual snoring could potentially be a sign of sleep apnea—a condition associated with several serious health risks. For this reason, if you snore frequently, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. 

Sleep Apnea Causes, Symptoms, and Risks 

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when the airway is repeatedly blocked (partially or completely) during sleep. Due to the restricted airway, the chest muscles and diaphragm fight to pull more air into the lungs, often leading to a forceful jerk or loud gasp when breathing resumes. This pause in breath can lead to health risks and other negative side effects, so diagnosis and treatment is important. 

What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea? 

It is quite common for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea to be unaware they have the condition—symptoms such as snoring and gasping for air are usually noticed by a loved one. Although a person’s bed partner is typically the first to see symptoms like snoring or pauses in breath while sleeping, there are many other indicators to watch for if you think you may have sleep apnea. Some of the most common signs include: 

  • Falling asleep during waking hours 
  • Waking abruptly from sleep with a sensation of choking or gasping for air 
  • Loud/intense snoring 
  • Not achieving a refreshed sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepy during the day 
  • A feeling of tiredness and general fatigue 
  • Problems concentrating and focusing 
  • Waking up with the need to go to the bathroom several times a night 

A person who suffers from sleep apnea may wake up multiple times per hour, but these interruptions to restful sleep are generally extremely brief, so most patients do not remember waking up. Unfortunately, they will likely feel the effects of missing out on a full night’s sleep, which can include forgetfulness, drowsiness, and more. 

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, please contact our office for more information or to schedule an appointment. 

What Are the Health Risks of Sleep Apnea? 

The strain on the body caused by OSA interferes with quality sleep and can cause irregular heart rhythms. The reduced flow of oxygen can negatively affect the proper function of vital organs, leading to a variety of issues—some of which can be very serious, or even fatal. For more information, please visit our page on sleep apnea health risks. Familiarizing yourself with the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea (listed above) can help lead to a diagnosis, ultimately helping you obtain appropriate treatment to prevent the negative effects of OSA.  

Who is at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect men, women, and children—regardless of age or ethnicity. However, there are certain factors that can increase an individual’s potential for having OSA. These can include: 

  • Nasal obstruction (due to a deviated septum, allergies, or other sinus issues)
  • Smoking
  • Large neck (men: over 17 inches; women: over 16 inches)
  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)  
  • Large tongue and/or tonsils 

Additionally, individuals who are overweight are often at risk of developing OSA, since excess fat and tissues can become an obstruction to the airway when sleeping. Men also tend to be at a higher risk than women, although cases of sleep apnea are typically more common for all individuals over the age of 40. 

What Is Pediatric Sleep Apnea?

Pediatric sleep apnea is often the result of a child’s tonsils and adenoids blocking their airway as they sleep. Children with sleep apnea typically snore habitually and experience pauses between breaths. After a pause in breathing, these children will likely gasp or snort as they regain their breath. This is often accompanied by a jerking motion that can disrupt sleep. The poor sleep quality and reduced oxygen intake caused by pediatric sleep apnea can ultimately result in problems such as difficulty staying focused in school, behavioral issues, and other health concerns. Some other signs of pediatric sleep apnea include: 

  • Sleeping with their head in an abnormal position
  • Falling asleep or daydreaming throughout the day
  • Habitual, loud snoring
  • Heavy sweating while sleeping
  • Tossing and turning at night
  • Hyperactivity
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Speaking with a nasal voice
  • Breathing through the mouth during the day 

Pediatric sleep apnea can strike at virtually any age during a child’s development, and it is important to know how you can recognize what may be signs of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. We will be happy to talk more with you if you believe your child may be suffering from sleep apnea. 

Sleep Loss in Children 

Depending on their age, children need different amounts of sleep. Without the proper amount of sleep, children can develop issues such as: 

  • Difficulty with memory and attention, leading to poor school performance
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Behavioral issues or hyperactivity
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Weight gain 

To help your child stay healthy and have strong development as they grow up, encourage regular bedtime routines and good sleep habits. 

Snoring, Snorting, and Mouth Breathing

Most children snore on occasion, and approximately ten percent of children snore regularly. Some common reasons for snoring include allergies, a stuffy nose, or a respiratory infection. It is fairly common for children ages three and up to snore during deeper stages of sleep, as well. However, if you notice your child snores loudly and very frequently, she or he may have sleep apnea. Sudden snorts or gasps while sleeping and/or regular breathing through the mouth during the day can also be signs of pediatric sleep apnea. 

If you suspect your child might have sleep apnea, please contact us to learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Shukovsky. 

Sleep Deprivation Facts 

Loss of sleep can have a significant and debilitating effect on one’s daily life and general health. Learning about the effects and signs of sleep deprivation, what constitutes a “normal” sleeping pattern, and other facts about achieving a good night’s sleep can help individuals recognize whether their sleeping habits are having a negative impact on their health. 

Get the Facts On Sleep Deprivation Here

Online Sleep Evaluation

Are you excessively tired during the day? Do you snore? Have you ever had the sense that you may be experiencing breathing pauses while sleeping? Take our quick Online Sleep Evaluation to let us know, and we’ll be happy to talk more with you about potential solutions. 

View the Online Sleep Evaluation

If you have additional questions, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact Stamford Sleep Solutions today. 


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