Snoring is annoying, mainly for the other people in the room.   It's mainly harmless to the snorer, but sleep deprivation is a serious problem.  

A much more serious problem for the snorer is sleep apnoea.<LINK THIS>

It's estimated that in the US 24% of men and 9% of women have severe sleep apnoea.  In New Zealand it's estimated at around 4%.

So what is sleep apnoea?  

Lets break it down.

  • Sleep fairly simple does exactly what it says on the label.  Not being awake, resting and repairing our bodies, dealing with the events of the day that are dwelling on our minds.
  • Apnoea a medical term that means stopping or not breathing


Sleep apnoea (or apnea depending where you went to school) is stopping breathing during sleep.

Let's try and experiment.  Hold your breath for 45 seconds.

At around 30 seconds I'm starting to become really aware that my body wants to take on more oxygen.  I can push back against it, but it's a very definite signal from my  lizard brain urging me to breath.   I can just about get to 45 seconds before my lizard brain forces me to take a big breath.

Now imagine you're a sleep, nice and relaxed.  Your muscles have gone floppy, and your tongue collapses back to the back of your mouth. See the image on right hand side of this page.  This blocks your airway and stops you breathing.  As you will have noticed from the breath holding exercise your body isn't happy about the levels of Oxygen in your blood falling (actually it's the rise in Carbon Dioxide that's driving the urge to breath - but that's another story) so starts getting agitated.   Eventually your lizard brain decides that it's going to really have to do something about this and causes your body to spasm to unblock your airway.   


More oxygen in.

Lizard brain is happy.

Back to sleep.

Then the whole cycle starts again.  Muscles relax, airway blocks, lizard brain gets grumpy, spasm, back to sleep.

This cycle can be repeating every few minutes.  All night.

As you can imagine the person with sleep apnoea doesn't get a good night's sleep at all.   

Worse than that, they'll be

  • tired all day,
  • at greater risk of health problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, haiving a stroke or heart attack
  • more likely to have road acidents
  • more likely to have work place accidents
  • more likely to suffer from depression


The good news is that there are treatments available.  These treatments can rapidily reverse the daytime tiredness and accident risk.

If you or someone you know fits this picture come and talk to us.   or do this quick survey


Cook Street Pharmacy Shop

We’re a small family run Pharmacy in Palmerston North. We pride ourselves on looking after our patients and customers needs. If you need health and well being advice for yourself, or your family feel free to drop in and talk to one of our staff.