Experts tell us 20 percent of Australians snore. That's one in four men and one in six women. But short of throwing your sleeping partner out the window, is there anything that really stops snoring?
Marie and Gavin Hutchinson married just two years ago, but the way good ol' Gav snores the marriage mightn't last another two.
When a girl's tried every trick in the book, her thoughts can easily turn murderous!
"Sometimes I get really angry with him. I want to strangle him," says Marie.
Here's where the problem lies while a non-snorer's night-time air passage stays clear, for a snorer, the soft tissue at the back of the mouth is too relaxed. It flops down, partially obstructing the airway. Worse still, it vibrates noisily, constantly and annoyingly!
Most mornings, Gavin's blissfully unaware he's ruined Marie's night. But what Gavin doesn't realise like all chronic snorers, he's also ruining his health.
"If this is happening many times a night, over years, that hardens the arteries and narrows them and causes the increased risk of a heart attack and stroke," says ear, nose and throat surgeon Dr Sam Robinson.
So on behalf of the snorers of Australia, we're on the hunt for the ultimate cure at Adelaide's Memorial Hospital Sleep Unit.
Good ol' Gavin's agreed to step up to the mark with five fellow chronic snorers. We're going to test-run six popular snoring cures.
Here's what our candidates will be using:
- Nasal spray for Annie
- Tennis ball for Gav
- Snore collar for Rick
- Nasal strip for Rudi
- Breathing device for Kathy a CPAP machine (Continues Positive Airway Pressure)
- A mouthguard for Rod
Our guinea pigs will all be wired up so we can see how well they sleep and how much they snore.
How deeply Gavin's going to sleep attached to his box of tricks is anybody's guess, though that's the least of his worries: "I've got a tennis ball sewn into the back of the pyjamas to try to prevent me from sleeping on my back," says Gavin.
It's bedtime and we're going to see if we can silence our champion snorers.
To check that our champs really are in fine form for the first few hours, they'll sleep without their anti-snoring devices. Needless to say, it's not long before the dream team is snoring its head off.
Sleep South Australia boss Dr Michael Chia and his team clock our snorers at 70 decibels!
"Seventy decibels would be equivalent to a model aeroplane," says Dr Chia.
Finally, it's midnight and our snorers are in for a rude awakening.
- The tennis ball should stop Gavin sleeping on his back. Theory is it'll help keep his airways open.
- The nasal spray should help Annie breathe easier.
- Kathy's CPAP device is designed to keep air flowing along her airway while she sleeps. With luck it'll stop her snoring.
- Rick's snore collar should push his head back and keep his airways clear.
- Rudy's nasal strips should aid his breathing.
- Rod's mouthguard will help keep his airways clear.
After our snorers are all fitted up, they drift back into the land of nod while sensors keep tabs on every twitch and snuffle. In just a few hours we'll be able to find out which cures work and which ones don't.
The long night has finally come to an end and it's time for the six snorers to be woken from their slumber.
So how did Gavin fare?
Gavin: "The first couple of hours it took me a while to get to sleep with all the wires connected up and that."
In other rooms Rudy looks look he's done it tough, Rick's glad to loosen his snore collar and Rod's done with his jaw splints for the night.
But did any of the six gadgets do the job?
Remember Rudy's nasal strips? Forget them.
"He snored all night long and it was loud irrespective of whether he was on his back or on his side. So I think we can just about throw this into the bin," says Dr Chia.
Same goes for Rick's snore collar he persisted with his snoring, in fact, later on into the night his snoring actually got worse!
So how about Annie's nasal spray? Once it was applied she not only kept snoring but her snoring progressed and became worse as she went into deeper stages of sleep throughout the night.
So did Gavin's tennis ball do the job?
"What it did was prevent him from sleeping for the first hour and he got so tired he rolled over onto his back despite the tennis ball and snored through the night," says Dr Chia.
The good news is Rod's jaw splint performed better and might have done better still if Rod hadn't been so congested with a cold.
"It did reduce the snoring down to about 40-50 decibels we'll keep it and use it as a second-line treatment I would say," Dr Chia.
But the top performer on the night? Kathy's CPAP machine.
"We actually managed to reduce her snoring quite significantly … so I think this is certainly quite a useful anti-snoring device," says Dr Chia.
"Once you get used to having it on and having the noise from it and everything, you do get a really good sleep and feel so much better the next day," says Kathy.
You can order CPAP machines from your chemist or over the Internet but they'll set you back a touch over a thousand dollars. Best see your doctor first. The cheaper option is a $50 rubber mouthguard. Although a tailor-made jaw splint will cost you closer to a thousand bucks.
There's one other ingenious cure you might like to try. According to new research, didgeridoo playing might just put an end to night-time snuffles and snores. Sydneysider, Sean Ryan took up didgeridoo playing eight years ago. Not only can he play a mean tune he's fixed his snoring problem permanently.
"My girlfriend's never said I snore so I can probably put that down to playing didgeridoo," says Sean.
Ryan's playing keeps his throat and pharyngeal muscles toned to perfection. And no floppy tissue in the airways means no night-time snoring.
Back at the Hutchinson house there's no such luck. Gavin's still snoring his head off. Just as well there's a couple more cures left for him to try.
Thanks to our band of snoring guinea pigs at least we know what cures not to waste time and money on. Remember we might laugh about it, but snoring is a complex medical condition, so if you do have a serious snoring problem, run it by your GP.
- Rumour has it that packing on a few extra pounds can make your snoring worse. But is it true? Sadly, yes it is. In fact, an astonishing 80 percent of serious snorers are obese. So one of the best things snorers can do is shed those extra kilos!