When most people think of sleep apnea, they immediately think of snoring. However, it is important to understand that snoring is not always the case. While some people that suffer from sleep apnea might snore, not all actually do. Let’s compare sleep apnea and snoring:

What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. In sleep apnea, the “apnea” refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds and occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open—despite efforts to breathe. And, according to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million American adults currently suffer from sleep apnea—so why aren’t you getting treated now?

What is snoring?

About 45% of adults snore at least occasionally and about 25% are habitual snorers. The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula.

Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing. Snoring can be both socially and medically disabling for various reasons. Socially, it can make the snorer an object of ridicule and can cause the bed partner to experience sleepless nights and fatigue. Medically, it disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of adequate rest, but it can also be a sign of sleep apnea.

What is the difference?

While snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea—we can agree on that—it doesn’t mean you suffer from sleep apnea just as if you have sleep apnea it does not necessarily mean you will snore. Either way, it is important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment options. 

If you snore and might be concerned that you have sleep apnea, talk to your dentist or doctor—it is better to be safe than sorry. And with proper treatment, you can ensure you are getting the best night’s sleep possible.