Chances are, either you or someone you know snores. Characterised by a noticeable grunting or rattling noise, snoring is extremely common and can happen to anyone at any age, although it more commonly affects older people and is more prevalent among men than women. While not usually considered a cause for concern, snoring can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult and leave you and your partner feeling sluggish and tired the following day. If your snoring is stopping you from achieving peaceful slumber and is having a negative impact on your quality of life, this simple guide should help.
What exactly is snoring?
Snoring is caused by a vibration of the soft tissues in the throat, mouth and nose during sleep. When lying down, the flesh in the throat relaxes, meaning that the air cannot pass freely through the airways. This change in airflow causes the soft tissues to vibrate, resulting in the distinctive noise. This process usually occurs during deep sleep.
The severity of the condition varies from person to person and will depend on where the vibration is coming from. For example, snoring from the mouth tends to be much louder than when it comes from the nose. In severe cases, snoring is related to breathing difficulties such as sleep apnoea, which can have a negative effect on sleep quality by bringing you out of a deep sleep or waking you up completely.
What makes it worse?
Snoring can be made worse when sleeping on your back as it emphasises gravity’s pull on the throat and causes the tongue to fall back in the mouth. Having a cold, swollen tonsils or sinus problems that block your airways can also exacerbate the condition. You are also more at risk if you are overweight, drink large amounts of alcohol or smoke on a regular basis. There are also certain medications, such as lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), that act as muscle relaxants and encourage deeper levels of sleep – which can aggravate snoring.
How can it be prevented?
While not usually a serious health hazard, if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to further health issues and affect your ability to carry out normal, everyday routines. The good news is, snoring can usually be treated with a few simple self help techniques. For example, losing weight through regular exercise, reducing your alcohol consumption and quitting smoking can quickly improve your symptoms and help you achieve a better night’s rest.
If you see no signs of improvement after trying lifestyle changes, you may want to consider using some of the anti-snoring devices which are available from most pharmacies. Nasal strips or dilators can be used to open up the nasal passages while you sleep, while chin strips and vestibular shields can help keep your mouth closed. A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is designed to push your tongue and jaw forward to stop the tongue from vibrating. If your partner is finding it difficult to sleep because of your snoring, using ear plugs can be an easy and effective way to resolve the problem.
There are also a number of bedtime rituals you can stick to to help prevent snoring. Before you go to sleep, consider using a nasal decongestant to clear your nasal passages, especially if you have a stuffy nose or blocked sinuses. If you suffer from allergies, thoroughly cleaning your room can help to reduce dust mites and pet hair. There are also a number of daily throat exercises you can do to help strengthen the muscles in the neck to help stop snoring. You can find out more about these by speaking to your doctor.
Remember, not every technique will be successful for every person, and you may need to go through a process of trial and error before you find something that works for you.
When should you see a doctor?
If home treatment techniques do not have the desired effect, you may need to seek advice from a healthcare professional. If your snoring is causing you to suffer from long-term sleep deprivation, it can result in potentially dangerous effects. Ongoing sleep disturbances can impair your mental clarity and ability to function properly during the day, making you more prone to accidents. Likewise, if your snoring is keeping your partner awake at night and causing tension in your relationship, speaking to a healthcare professional is a good idea.
If the condition is causing symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, depression, loss of sex drive or poor memory, or you wake up in the middle of the night choking or your breathing is compromised, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. If you are concerned that the medication you are taking is contributing to the problem, your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative.
In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the condition, although this is generally only considered if all other self help treatments have not been successful.
How can an adjustable bed help?
Snoring often occurs when the windpipe narrows due to the weight of the neck. Adjustable beds can help to prevent this from happening and have been proven to alleviate some of the symptoms of snoring and sleep apnoea. With the simple touch of a button, you can adjust the head of the bed to sleep in a semi-upright position. Resting with your head slightly elevated relieves pressure from the throat caused by gravity and encourages easy breathing by opening up your air passages. If you want to change your sleeping position, adjustable beds are a far healthier and more comfortable option than simply piling up some pillows.
While there may not be a cure for snoring, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to ease the symptoms and help you and your partner enjoy a peaceful, undisturbed night’s sleep. Take a look at the health conditions page on on website to find out more about how our range of adjustable beds can help to combat snoring.