More than 20 percent of Australians snore, which can put a big fat dent in your sleep quality, health and energy levels. It can also affect your love life just ask anyone who shares a bed with a heavy snorer. But help is on hand.
Zzzz. There's nothing like a good night's sleep. And nothing like the annoyance of a good night's sleep trashed. One UK survey found that if your spouse snores, by your 50th wedding anniversary you'll have lost about four years' worth of sleep. Take a peek at our guide to easing the tension.
Why do we snore?
Snoring happens when the tongue and soft tissues at the back of your throat relax during sleep, restricting the passage of air through your upper airways. The snoring sound comes from the vibration or flapping of these tissues as air passes by, or from air moving through the narrowed nasal passages. Other factors include:
- poor sleep posture;
- an individual's unique anatomy;
- injury to the nose, mouth or throat;
- being overweight, causing excess fatty tissue around the neck and throat;
- temporary congestion and swelling in the airways from alcohol, smoking, illness or acid reflux; and
Is snoring dangerous?
Snoring affects your ability to breathe properly, which ultimately reduces the amount of oxygen your body inhales. In the short term, this can make you tired, irritable and fatigued, while over the long term, snoring can raise blood pressure levels and increase your chances of suffering serious illnesses. When snoring is more severe and is accompanied by sleep apnoea (where individuals experience a more severe restriction of airflow where their breathing stops completely), additional health risks occur.
What can you do about snoring?
Finding a way to reduce your snoring can improve the quality of life for you and those within earshot. It's known that even small reductions in body fat can greatly improve sleep quality in snorers, and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) sufferers. Try some of the following solutions.
- Stopping smoking will help reduce inflammation in your airways and reduce the intensity of snoring. Elevating your head, avoiding sleeping on your back, and restricting your intake of caffeine before bed can also help.
- Losing weight and cutting back on alcohol (particularly before bedtime) tends to reduce the severity of snoring, if not cure it altogether.
- Sleep on your side rather than your back. Try sewing half a tennis ball in a shirt pocket onto your back, which will force you to sleep on your side.
- Treat nasal congestion. Try natural remedies such as horseradish, garlic and vitamin C.
- Make sure the air in the bedroom is neither too dry nor too humid. Invest in a humidifier, which encourages your sinuses to drain, reducing nasal mucous and improving airflow.
- Nasal strips, such as Breathe Right, can help if you snore but don't have an underlying sinus problem. These adhesive strips widen the nasal passages, giving you better airflow.
- A mandibular advancement device is a mouth guard worn at night that helps keep the lower jaw pushed out, widening the airway and reducing snoring. Studies have shown it is 90 percent effective at reducing noise from snoring. It costs $500 to $1000 and lasts for at least three years.
If snoring persists, make sure you check with a doctor to see whether your snoring is related to other health problems. You could also seek advice on the medical cures and treatments available to snorers and OSA sufferers, such as breathing masks.