Snoring is a very common problem in the UK and it has been recognised as a social problem for many of years; the actual problems of which Snorers complain centre around disturbing others ‘sleep, poor sleep quality, lethargy and sore throat. Some of the predisposing factors are well-known and include obesity, alcohol and sleeping position. From a English suburban community 1,075 men and women were invited to provide information about their snoring in a ‘snore survey’ questionnaire carried out in 2004 by Sunderland Royal Hospital. From the results it was estimated that 43.75% of the middle aged (30 – 69 years) UK population snore and 41.5% of the UK adult population snore. In another survey by Tom Ford in Detroit, snorers were found to have significantly greater intima-media thickness, thought to be a precursor to atherosclerosis, thickening of the arteries, which can lead to brain haemorrhages, heart attacks and strokes.
It’s not laughing matter
American researchers have found that snoring can lead to a deterioration of your sleep quality leaving you exhausted the next day and increasing the risk of stroke. According to the American Heart Association the evidence is very strong for the relationship between sleep apnea and hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
A quarter of British couples say snoring is ruining their sex lives and it’s cited as the third most common reason for divorce after financial problems and adultery. With 38% of couples saying that their partner’s sleep disorder has caused problems in their relationship it’s many times the reason couples seek relationship counselling.
To understand the problem it’s important to know what snoring actually is. Expert snoring advisor, Richard Tyrell of Snorewizard explains that snoring is the production of sound from the upper aerodigestive tract during sleep. ‘When we sleep, the airways in the head and neck relax and narrow. The resulting restriction in the size of the air passages affects our breathing rate and changes the air pressure, which results in vibrations of soft tissue. The nasal passages, soft palate, tongue, tonsils and uvula have all been found to play a part in creating the sound we call snoring. Evidence suggests that snoring will get worse over time if left untreated as it can cause irreparable damage blood vessels supplying the muscles in the throat.’
Obesity – Extra weight is a risk factor for snoring, although those of us at a healthy weight aren’t immune. Extra weight around the neck can exacerbate the narrowing of the air passages that occurs when we sleep.
Alcohol/tranquilisers – Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it causes the body’s systems to slow down and relax. It causes the muscles involved in snoring to relax more than usual when you sleep, further narrowing the airways and increasing the chances of snoring.
Age – We snore more as we get older. This is perhaps due to a decrease in muscle tone of the soft tissue involved in snoring. Middle-aged men have been found to be the biggest snorers. 60% of men and 40% of women over the age of 60 have been found to snore.
Smoking – Smoking has been found to be a major contributing factor when it comes to snoring, even amongst ex-smokers. Passive smoking could also be linked to snoring. Smoke irritates the lining of the nasal cavity and throat, which leads to swelling, catarrh and therefore, narrowed airways, much the same as when you have a cold.
Medication – Some medications like sedatives or anti-depressants which cause you to relax more than usual have been found to increase the likelihood of snoring.
Nasal or sinus problems – Some of these issues can cause your airways to narrow more than usual.
Eating a large meal or eating near bedtime – Both of these things can cause you to relax more than usual or, with a full stomach you can affect how open your airways are.
What can you do?
Exercise and weight loss are a good start point; sleeping on your side will take pressure off your throat and clearing your nasal passages before bed will minimise obstruction of your air passages. Always seek expert medical advice and try to find out more about some alternative devices available that can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Do you snore?
How do you cope with you snoring partner?
*Post brought to you by Snorewizard.