Implications for Men
Snoring is a sign of a Sleep Disordered Breathing problem. It occurs when the tissues in the oral airway relax and rub against one another, vibrating. A normal airway stays patent (it retains its muscle tone) when a person falls asleep. A person who suffers from Sleep Disordered Breathing, on the other hand, experiences airway collapse, which can result in snoring. Airway collapse can also be very severe. The airway can collapse completely hundreds of times a night without the sleeper being aware of the problem in the first place. This is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Sleep Disordered Breathing causes a myriad of health problems. It affects the cardiovascular, lymphatic, neurological, metabolic, and reproductive systems. And yes, it has been correlated with erectile dysfunction (ED).
An erection is the end result of a very complex chain of physiological events. If any part of this series is disrupted, erectile dysfunction can occur. The causes of ED have been determined to be a variety of things; among them are vascular disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, surgery, injury (to the nerves, the spine, and the penis and surrounding area), hypertensive medication, and even psychological feelings of guilt or low self-esteem.
As you can see in the above list, vascular disease, atherosclerosis, and hypertensive medication are all related to Cardiovascular Disease. Cardiovascular Disease, is both a risk factor for and caused by Sleep Disordered Breathing problems. If your breathing is hindered at night, your heart has to work harder, and your sleeping and waking blood pressure rises. But, for all the extra work your heart is forced to do (which can result in stroke or even death), your blood is not always sufficiently oxygenated because of your nightly airway obstruction.
Research has discovered that the recurrent respiratory events (where the airway becomes obstructed, air cannot pass to the lungs, and blood oxygen levels drop) cause nerve dysfunction that affects erectile ability. ED is especially prevalent in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Another theory is that the increased blood pressure caused by the constant respiratory events occurring due to Sleep Disordered Breathing result in abnormal blood vessels that are unable to maintain the erection.
Yet another theory relates the problem back to hormones, with the sympathetic nervous system being constantly activated by breathing disorders, and a hormonal imbalance prohibiting the chemical reactions that cause erections.
A final theory calls upon the psychological cause for ED. Quite simply, the extreme daytime tiredness a man experiences when he is suffering from Sleep Disordered Breathing that causes restless nights can deplete his sex drive. It can also cause depression, another condition that makes it difficult to have and maintain an erection.
Before you take a pill or buy some contraption that promises to provide you the stamina to maintain an erection, I suggest doing some research into Sleep Disordered Breathing. You might be surprised.