Snoring isn’t generally harmful to your health – unless, of course, your sleeping partner has had one too many sleepless nights and wants to get revenge on you!
Snoring happens when the muscles in the airway become too relaxed during sleep and begin to vibrate when air passes through the airway. This vibration creates snoring noises, as well as strife for a sleeping partner and the snorer themselves.
While most people will snore at some stage, around 20 per cent of the population can be considered ‘snorers’. Sleep deprivation and fatigue are serious side effects that cannot be underestimated. Very loud or chronic snoring can be associated with other sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnoea.
People most likely to snore:
- are male
- aged between 30 and 65 years
- are overweight
- have high blood pressure
- have been drinking alcohol
- have a cold.
A quick word about sleep apnoea …
Chronic snorers (and their sleeping partners) should be vigilant about sleep apnoea, which occurs when the walls of the throat contract during sleep, causing airways to become blocked and temporarily preventing breathing. The sleeper makes a distinct effort, often signalled as an audible or sharp intake of breath, to breath again. This can wake the sleeper and their sleeping partner multiple times during the night. Sleep apnoea can be dangerous, so if you worry that you or your partner might have it, do consult a doctor.
So, what can you do to stop yourself or your sleeping partner snoring?
Here are a few quick solutions:
- lose weight if you’re overweight
- cut back on alcohol
- avoid sleeping tablets
- sleep on your side, rather than on your back
- treat nasal congestion
- change your pillows
- drink more water.
When all else fails, or when chronic snoring persists, it’s time to check in with a doctor. She or he can help you take a more medical approach to cure snoring.
This approach might include setting you up with a sleeping apparatus, such as:
- an anti-snoring pillow
- nose strips
- a chin strap
- drops administered under the tongue
- a mandibular advancement splint (MAS).
A quick word about surgery …
When it comes to correcting snoring, there are two surgical options available – laser uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (laser treatment) and somnoplasty. It’s worth pointing out that surgery is only considered in severe cases and is not a permanent cure to snoring. There’s also a chance that the surgery will not be effective at all. For this reason, experts generally discourage patients from having surgery.
So, where do you start?
The first place to go for help is to a doctor, who can assist you in undertaking a sleep study. Snore Australia has useful information about sleep studies and how they work.
Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.
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