While snoring may seem little more than an annoyance to some, it can in fact reveal serious hazards to health and wellbeing. As a marker for obstructive sleep apnoea, snoring could indicate imminent risks to health, such as heart disease and stroke, arrhythmia and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Aside from the more serious health consequences of sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea, snoring itself can also cause issues. Research has shown that snoring could be a direct cause of cardiovascular complications, in particular a condition known as carotid artery atherosclerosis, where fatty deposits form on the wall of the artery, causing it to narrow and limit blood flow.
On the less severe end of the scale, snoring can give you a sore throat, dry mouth or headache, leaving you feeling tired during the day. It can make you irritable, and may also lead to impaired memory and concentration, obesity and reduced immunity.
Snoring can put strain on personal relationships, causing partners to sleep in separate rooms and disrupting intimate bonds. Someone who snores may also feel uncomfortable sleeping among others, resulting in anxiety or a decline in social relationships.
It’s no wonder so many snorers seek out sleeping solutions. But, before we find out how to stop snoring, we need to look to the causes of snoring in order to uncover the most effective snoring solutions.
WHAT CAUSES SNORING
When we sleep, the muscles of our upper airway relax. As these muscles become floppy, the airway can become narrower near the tongue and soft palate. When air is drawn in, the airway becomes narrower still, where the resulting suction can cause the upper airway tissues to vibrate or flutter. This movement results in the sound we recognise as snoring.
However, snoring can be caused by a wide range of factors.
Being overweight can cause increased fat around the neck to compress and narrow the throat.
Having allergies or a cold can block the nose, increasing suction through the airway.
Drinking alcohol can relax airway muscles and block the nose.
Smoking can irritate the membrane that lines the nose and throat, causing fluid build-up that narrows the airways.
Back sleeping can result in further collapse of the airway, with greater pressure on the tongue and soft palate.
Pregnancy can cause physiological changes to narrow the upper airway in the second and third trimester.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications can also affect snoring.
HOW TO STOP SNORING
Finding out the cause of your snoring can make it easier to stop. For example, if you snore because you drink alcohol, you may choose to reduce your alcohol intake; if you snore because you smoke, you may choose to quit smoking; and if you snore because you are overweight, you may choose to lose weight.
In other instances, there may be no other alternative but to wait it out. Snoring caused by pregnancy should abate after the birth of the child, while snoring caused by a cold or allergies should reduce once the illness is gone or allergy season is over. Cold and flu remedies and allergy medication may help ease your symptoms, and may reduce snoring as well.
Some snorers swear by natural remedies to ease their snoring.
Peppermint oil can ease nasal or chest congestion.
Spearmint and fenugreek can aid digestion.
Vitamin C can promote a healthy immune system.
Eucalyptus and peppermint can be used in a humidifier to open airways and nasal passages.*
Another alternative to try involves adjusting your sleep position, which can be achieved through positional therapies and aids. Choosing the correct pillow for your sleep style may also help to alleviate snoring, such as those on offer at TEMPUR.
For serious snorers, however, there are options to try when other possibilities have failed.
A Mandibular Advancement Splint looks similar to a mouthguard, and works to push the lower jaw forward and open the airway. This must be fitted by a dentist or oral surgeon.
Treatments to stiffen the roof of the mouth can be carried out using lasers, microwave rays or injections. This can be a painful option, and must be done by a qualified ear, nose and throat surgeon.
Children and adults with large tonsils can have their tonsils removed to reduce snoring.
Snoring caused by the shape of the tongue or roof of the mouth may be treated with surgery. A type of surgery called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) used to be common, but was found not to work in all cases, and did not have good long-term results. **
If you are having problems with snoring, you may want to see your GP to get a referral to a sleep specialist or sleep doctor.