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What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

What is the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Did you know that snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, but not all snoring indicates sleep apnea, and that not all sleep apnea patients snore? Our Surrey dentists explain some differences between sleep apnea and snoring.

Differences Between Snoring & Sleep Apnea

Both snoring and sleep apnea disrupt our natural sleep patterns. Every day is a battle as those who suffer deal with the effects of poor quality of sleep. However, not all snoring is sleep apnea-related. 

Sleep Apnea

This serious sleep disorder is marked by frequent, abnormal pauses in breathing while a person sleeps. Depending on the type of sleep apnea a patient has, lack of respiratory effort, a physical blockage of airflow or a combination of both can cause the pauses in breathing.


The sound we (and our sleep partners!) recognize as snoring happens when airflow is obstructed, causing vibrations in a patient’s respiratory structures. Snoring may happen for a few reasons unrelated to sleep apnea, including an elongated soft palate, an unusually long tongue, or nasal obstructions.

What’s confusing is that snoring can also be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), though not everyone who suffers from sleep apnea snores.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The physical blockage of airflow causes the most common form of sleep apnea. It’s possible for people to not know they are suffering from the condition, and the sleep partner will often be the first to notice symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

These are common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea:

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

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

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that needs effective treatment. Contact your Surrey dentist at Clover Hills Dental today to book a an assessment and learn about treatment options. 

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