In what comes as not the most surprising news but significant nonetheless, a recent medical survey showed young male athletes in their late teens who play rugby or American styled football demonstrated distressed sleeping patterns, and a dramatically higher risk for heart attacks than the average middle aged man.
The reason I’m not shocked by this news is because I have long suspected a link between body mass, neck size, activity level, and snoring/sleep apnea.
This is why NFL Hall of Fame tackle Reggie White passed away, heart problems likely exacerbated by sleep apnea relaated to his being “a big guy”, and probably the decreased activity level once he retired from professional football.
Harvard medical doctors have long reported that being overweight or obese is the biggest risk of all when it comes to snoring, as well as heart disease and diabetes. This is why truck drivers, who themselves have higher rates of obesity, also find themselves getting a CPAP.
Football and Rugby Players at Higher Risk
Sleep apnea and snoring work similarly- your airway gets blocked and your lungs cannot get sufficient air. This leads to stopping breathing several times a night while you sleep. For severe apnea patients, this can mean more than 100 apnea episodes a night.
The chin and jaw sink backwards into the throat, cutting off airflow and initiating an episode of snoring or sleep apnea. The bigger the neck, the more neck fat there is, the more risk there is for snoring and potentially stopping breathing during the night to never regain consciousness again.
The cumulative effect over time is the greater potential for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, and premature death. Since most of America is either overweight and almost 33% are technically obese, you can understand why so many millions of people have a snoring problem, if not sleep apnea.
Is CPAP the best choice for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
The doctors at Harvard said that if people were to lose just 10% of their body weight, then the majority of these heart problems related to snoring would simply go away.
Since we already know most people aren’t going to do that, here’s what we do know.
Over half of all people that get a CPAP end up quitting and not using it, not because they no longer need it, but they find the process to be uncomfortable or inconvenient. And this is how they found Reggie White when he had passed, in his bed with his CPAP lying next to him, not in use.
What about the People who use their CPAP Every Night?
Some people report back that CPAP is the best thing that’s ever happened to them. Maybe it is, since most of them will refuse to change their diets and exercise regimens- or begin one.
But maybe, just using a machine that forces air down your throat at night isn’t really solving the problem, but is instead making you more comfortable as you head into the golden years where bodies that weren’t taken care of start to break down at a rapid pace.
In addition to this, aside from weight loss which of course is the most important aspect in the majority of snoring and sleep apnea cases, there are alternatives out there to CPAP like mouthpieces and mouthguards.
Most people with snoring could do well to check out some stop snoring mouthpieces, cut down on the sugary drinks, and get outside for a walk or a run 2 – 3 times a week for starters.
Other Risk Factors in Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Other factors that play a role in people stopping breathing during their sleep is alcohol and drugs- even the prescribed ones. But usually, when you hear a news story about some young celebrity dying a tragic death before their time, it usually involves alcohol, xanax, and painkillers.
So it’s good to keep all that in mind as well.
The most important thing to do in my opinion (this is not medical advice): understand the risk factors and address them one by one without becoming dependent on a machine to force air down your throat.
I realize we live in a time where if people want to lose weight, they might try to get lap band surgery to eliminate the ability to eat more than a few bites at a time, but when you can simply exercise self-control and get on with a free and independent existence, why wouldn’t you make the simple and best choice?