12 things you need to know if you or your partner snore too much
From sleep apneoa, being overweight, to whether you lie on your back, there are many factors that can cause excessive snoring. In fact, snoring is common. An estimated 45 per cent of adults snore occasionally, and one in four are chronic snorers. If your partner’s snoring is driving you crazy, read on.
There are many causes of snoring
That buzz-saw sound is caused by loose, floppy tissues in your throat, tongue and palate vibrating and slapping together. Nasal congestion, being overweight, drugs, alcohol and a deviated septum can all compress the airway, making the vibrations stronger.
Snoring could hurt your marriage
One British survey found that 12 per cent of respondents cited snoring as a reason for divorcing a spouse.
Watch out for obstructive sleep apnoea
If your snoring is interrupted by bouts of total breathing obstruction, talk to your doctor as you may have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). It is generally thought that around 9% of women and 25% of men in Australia have clinically significant OSA and one in 10 Singaporeans suffer from it. Sufferers of OSA are roused out of deep sleep as many as 300 times a night, experience chronic daytime drowsiness, and are at risk of high blood pressure and heart problems.
Discover other silent signs of sleep apnoea that you’re ignoring.
Seek a diagnosis
Sleep apnoea can be diagnosed by an otolaryngologist, or ear, nose, throat (ENT) doctor, who examines your mouth and throat for abnormalities, and a sleep study, requiring you to spend a night in a lab.
You can treat sleep apnoea
The gold-standard treatment for sleep apnoea is a continuous-positive-airway-pressure (CPAP) machine. A mask fits over your nose and mouth and blows air into your throat to keep your airways open at night. “The reality is that only about half of CPAP users stick with it, because it can be highly intrusive,” says otolaryngologist Dr Brian Rotenberg.
Your weight can make a difference
If you’re overweight, losing weight can reduce snoring. In one study, subjects who lost 10% of their body weight saw their snoring drastically reduced afterwards. According to snoreaustralia.com.au, the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is probably increasing due to the ‘obesity epidemic’, and many people with OSA remain undiagnosed and untreated.
If you want to slim down, here are a few things you need to know about losing weight.
Try a little music
You might also consider taking up a new hobby: like playing the didgeridoo. A Swiss study found that consistently practising this instrument, an end-blowing instrument used by Aboriginal people from northern Australia, strengthened the muscles in the throats of snorers and was an effective alternative to a CPAP machine.
Snoring can be a stubborn condition to treat
“It can come from different areas of the mouth and throat,” says Rotenberg. Using an endoscope – a thin camera with a light – doctors can pinpoint where the vibrations are happening, helping to recommend effective treatments.
Be wary of cure-alls
Many pharmacy contraptions promise a quick, cheap fix, but buyer beware. Some mouth appliances work by pushing your lower jaw forward, opening your airway wider. “These can be effective if you belong to the low proportion of patients whose snoring is caused by the tongue,” says Rotenberg. “Most of the time, the issue is in your palate, and dental devices won’t help.”
Nasal strips aren’t always the right fit
Nasal strips open your nasal passages wider. But they won’t help if your snoring issues are with your tongue, palate or throat.
There are cheap fixes
Taping tennis balls onto the back of your pyjama shirt really does work, says Rotenberg. Your sleep position can really affect snoring. “Something that forces you to lie on your side can be effective.”