Sleep apnea is just snoring:
Myth. Snoring can be a symptom of the sleep disorder, but there's a big difference between the two. People with the condition actually stop breathing up to 400 times throughout the night. These pauses last 10 to 30 seconds, and they're usually followed by a snort when breathing starts again.
Sleep apnea is no big deal:
Myth. All those breaks in sleep take a toll on your body and mind. When the condition goes untreated, it's been linked to job-related injuries, car accidents, heart attacks, and strokes.
It blocks your breathing:
Fact. The most common type of the disorder is obstructive sleep apnea, it happens when your tongue, tonsils, or other tissues in the back of the throat block your airway. When you try to breathe in, the air can't get through.
Only older people get it:
Myth. Sleep apnea is more common after age 40, but it can affect people of all ages. You're more likely to have the condition if you're overweight. The disorder also tends to run in families.
Alcohol will help you sleep:
Myth. A nightcap may make you drowsy, but it won't help you get the quality rest you need. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the back of your throat. That makes it easier for the airway to become blocked in people with sleep apnea. Sleeping pills have the same effect.
Losing weight can help:
Fact. You can make sleep apnea symptoms better when you shed even a small percentage of your body weight. If you're carrying around extra pounds, talk to your doctor about starting a weight loss program.
Lying on your side can help:
Fact. If you sleep on your back, gravity can pull the tissues in the throat down, where they're more likely to block your airway. Sleep on your side instead to open your throat. Certain pillows can help keep you on your side.
A mouthpiece might work, too:
Fact. A dentist or orthodontist can fit you with a mouthpiece or oral appliance to ease mild sleep apnea. The device is custom-made for you, and it adjusts the position of your lower jaw and tongue.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you feel tired even after a full night's sleep. If you think you might have any form of sleep apnea, see your doctor. Treatment can ease your symptoms and may help prevent heart problems and other complications.