During sleep, air passes through the throat on its way to the lungs and travels past the soft, flexible structures such as the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, and tongue. These structures, and the tongue and jaw relax during sleep, however, with no obstructions, the airway allows air to flow freely into and out of the lungs.
If our throat structures are enlarged and/or jaw and tongue relax too much during sleep, the air way is partially or totally obstructed or blocked. As air from the nose or mouth flows by the blockage, these structures vibrate, this causes the familiar sound of snoring. Noise from snoring often increases with age, weight gain, and if more of the airway is obstructed, snoring can be loud enough to wake you or others several times during the night and can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Apnea is a serious disorder in which the snorer stops breathing causing a lack of oxygen to the brain, heart, and blood during sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea - "OSA":
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a potentially life-threatening condition. Apnea can be caused by a narrow airway, but is more commonly associated with obstructions of the nasal passages, soft palate, and base of the tongue. Apnea is defined as the lack of airflow for 10 seconds or more, despite a persistent effort to breathe. Hypopneas are caused by a partial airway collapse resulting in a decreased volume of air and lack of oxygen. Clinical manifestations of OSA, termed "obstructive sleep apnea", result from the cumulative effects of apnea and/or hypopnic events.
Hypertension has been reported in 50% of those who suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep fragmentation and OSA are associated with chronic fatigue, morning headache, irritability, short term memory loss, and sexual dysfunction. Patients suffer from a higher rate of automobile and work-related accidents, quality of life issues, martial difficulties, separation, and divorce.
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome - "UARS":
Upper airway resistance syndrome is characterized by the absence of obstructive sleep apnea and oxygen desaturation, excessive daytime sleepiness, chronic fatigue, increased respiratory effort during sleep, leading to recurrent arousals, despite the absence of hypopneas or apneas.
Nighttime "nocturnal" bruxism is a disruptive sleep disorder and may occur in 50% of those patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, morning headaches, and inadequate oxygen saturation during sleep.
Bruxism is defined as non-functional clenching and/or grinding of the teeth involving primarily the massiter, temporalis, medial and lateral pterygoid muscles. The results of this disorder are morning and contractual headaches, muscle tension, spasm, and fatigue. Bruxism is often the cause of a disruptive and non-restful sleep pattern and may complicate the management of TMJ joint disorders (TMJ).