Snoring is often more disruptive to other people’s sleep than the person responsible! In fact, it is not really a problem at all for the snorer – it is just the noise produced as air is drawn into the body through the nose and mouth. The noise is produced when the airway is restricted or partially collapsed. Measurements of the volume of snoring have recorded sounds equivalent to a pneumatic drill!
Snoring generally affects more men than women. Being overweight and with a collar size of more than 17 has also been shown as a predisposing factor. Alcohol, smoking and sleeping on the back are other causes. It has been estimated that around 60% of overweight males between 30 and 59 snore. Post menopausal overweight women are also more likely to snore than those of normal weight.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder which can be confused with snoring. Both produce the sound associated with snoring as the airway is restricted. In Sleep Apnea the airway collapses and oxygen is prevented from reaching the brain. The brain recognises the danger and sends messages to the sleeper which causes a wakening and intake of breath. This disrupts sleep as it may happen throughout the night causing loss of sleep. Sufferers will experience sleep loss and be tired and irritable during the day. They are at increased risk of accidents and their health and relationships are likely to be affected. Sleep Apnea should be accurately diagnosed and sufferers should consult their GP.
Snoring often improves or ceases with weight reduction. Excess fat in the neck causes the airway to collapse and when this is reduced the snoring is stops. Restricting alcohol and giving up smoking can also make a difference.
Partners have often relied on a prod to encourage a snorer to change position. Lying on the back causes the tongue to move into the back of the mouth putting pressure on the airway. Lying on the side may make a difference but is difficult to maintain!
Stop Snoring Aids
There are a number of aids and devises that are available from high street chemists that are designed to keep the airway open and prevent snoring. These may provide some relief as a short term measure. Long term relief can only be achieved by addressing the problem and tackling the causes.
Enlarged tonsils, adenoids or nasal congestion may all cause difficulty in breathing. Some conditions may be temporary and the noise will clear up when the congestion improves. Longer term breathing problems should be investigated.
Sleeping with Snoring
Snoring affects the sleep of partners and anyone within hearing. The consistent sound is irritating and disruptive. Partners may find it difficult to fall asleep and keep waking up during the night. It can cause friction in relationships and both partners may suffer from lack of sleep.
Discussing and confronting the problem and taking steps to improve the condition is the long term solution. Many snorers are unaffected by their own snoring whilst others may wake themselves up. Some may be woken by their partner!
Partners should not ignore the problem and let it affect their own sleep. Learning how to relax and trying to fall asleep before the snoring starts may help. Sleeping in a different room away from the sound may not be ideal but may be the only solution if sleep is becoming a problem.
Napping is a real help when night-time sleep is not enough. Although it is not the answer to the continuing problem, it is important to be aware of daytime drowsiness and stay alert.
Learning how to relax and keep the problem in proportion is also important. Snoring can make both parties irritable and stressed. Taking control and making an effort to resolve the problem will take the blame away from the snorer. Recognising that sleep is important and that snoring is a genuine problem can help both parties find a solution