Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea

Snoring and sleep apnea are the same thing. While many people think that sleep apnea is the same thing as snoring, it’s not. It is important to understand the difference between the two because while some people suffering from sleep apnea might snore, not all snorers have sleep apnea. To help you better understand sleep apnea, let’s look at how it is different from snoring.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions, known as apneas, can last for seconds to minutes and may occur multiple times per hour. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), where the airway becomes partially or completely blocked, leading to a temporary cessation of breathing.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, abrupt awakenings accompanied by a choking or gasping sound, restless sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and irritability. Sleep apnea can have serious health consequences, including an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and impaired cognitive function.

Apnea vs Snoring

What is snoring?

About 45% of adults snore at least occasionally, while about 25% are habitual snorers. But the real question is, what causes snoring? 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.

Additionally, snoring can be both socially and medically disabling for various reasons. Socially, it can make the snorer an object of ridicule, receiver of the middle of the night elbow jabs, 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.


An interesting fact about sleep apnea versus snoring is that while both may involve disruptions in breathing during sleep, they differ significantly in severity and potential health implications. Snoring is often a common and harmless occurrence caused by the vibration of relaxed throat tissues. On the other hand, sleep apnea is a more serious condition characterized by repeated pauses in breathing, leading to oxygen deprivation and potential health risks.

What’s the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Yes, snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea—we can agree on that. However, just because you snore does not mean you have sleep apnea, and just because 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.

If you have any questions about snoring and sleep apnea, please contact Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia. We can work with you to determine if your snoring is sleep apnea, or if it is just plain-old snoring.

Call us today at 678-899-6076

To schedule a Sleep Evaluation and learn how Oral Appliance Therapy can help you.