Snoring brings big health risks
Snoring is bad news -- and not just because it'll lead to a tired, cranky spouse and maybe even banishment to the sofa.
Heavy snoring can be a warning sign of serious health risks, especially a sleep disorder like sleep apnea -- a condition marked by loud snores and brief periods of total silence.
The silence comes when you stop breathing in your sleep.
The loss of oxygen is bad for your brain, bad for your heart and bad for your body. And that's why a major new sleep disorder study finds that heavy snoring can boost your risk of serious heart problems by 80 percent.
Even worse, those loud snores will double your risk of a deadly stroke, according to the study of more than 25,000 sleepers.
While the study didn't look at apnea specifically, it did find the risks are only for the heaviest snorers -- people who in many cases are apnea patients, whether they know it or not.
And most people who have the condition don't actually know it.
While the loud snores might wake your spouse (or even your neighbors), they won't wake you.
Even when you stop breathing, you'll remain asleep.
In many cases, apnea patients stop breathing for between 10 and 30 seconds at a time, with some terrifying episodes lasting a minute or longer -- and it can happen hundreds of times a night.
Some of the sleep disorder signs to watch for include waking up tired even after a full night of sleep, and waking up with a headache and/or sore throat. Or, if you have a spouse, he or she can watch over you at night to see if you stop breathing.
And if you suspect you may have sleep apnea or any sleep disorder, visit a doctor who can diagnose it with a night in a sleep clinic.
Doctors will offer you everything from oxygen masks that are difficult to sleep with to a surgery that can help open your breathing passage, but the best cure isn't something your doctor can do for you.
It's something you can do for yourself.
Sleep apnea is almost always caused by weight gain, especially obesity -- and losing that extra weight will almost always ease or even completely cure the condition.
And if you don't have apnea -- yet -- losing weight will help make sure you never get it.