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What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea. But did you know know that not all snoring indicates sleep apnea, and that not all sleep apnea patients snore? Our Summerland dentists describe some differences between sleep apnea and snoring. 

Differences Between Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Both sleep apnea and snoring can impact our natural sleep patterns. When you sleep poorly for an extended period of time, every day feels like a battle as the effects of poor quality of sleep add up. However, not all snoring is caused by sleep apnea. 

Sleep Apnea 

Those who suffer from sleep apnea will have frequent, abnormal pauses in breathing while they sleep. Depending on the type of sleep apnea they are dealing with, a physical obstruction to airflow, lack of respiratory effort or a combination of both can lead to pauses in breathing.


The sound we (and anyone who sleeps in the same room!) recognize as snoring occurs when airflow is obstructed, causing a patient's respiratory structures to vibrate. Snoring may happen for a few reasons not related to sleep apnea, including nasal obstructions, an elongated soft palate or an unusually long tongue. 

What's confusing to so many is that snoring can also be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but not everyone who suffers from sleep apnea snores. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

The most common form of sleep apnea is caused by the physical blockage of airflow. People may not know they are suffering from the condition, and the sleep partner may the first to notice symptoms. 

Common Forms of Sleep Apnea 

Here are common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea that can be helped with diagnosis and treatment

  • Gasping while sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Loud snoring
  • Choking while attempting to sleep
  • Waking frequently throughout the night
  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Night sweats
  • Morning headaches

Poor quality of sleep can cause sleep apnea sufferers to feel sleepy and fatigued throughout the day. As you might imagine, this chronic fatigue can impact our overall motivation, work performance, general alertness, mental health and relationships. 

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires effective treatment. Contact your Summerland dentist at Jubilee Dental Centre to book an assessment and learn about treatment options. Your dentist can help you to get the good night's sleep you deserve. 

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