Obstructive sleep apnea, often referred to as OSA, is characterised by loud snoring that occurs before a person stops breathing and is a condition that causes the throats of sufferers to close up while they sleep, meaning their brain has to continually wake them up from a deep sleep in order to reopen the throat muscles.
The breathing pause can last a few seconds or several minutes and may happen many times during the night. It has been linked to daytime sleepiness and a host of other diseases.
Risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity, being over the age of 55, and smoking. Tests have proven that sleep apnea can be hereditary, and men outnumber women among those who are afflicted with the disease. Consequently, stopping smoking or taking dietary precautions prompting weight loss can reduce or even eliminate the effects of many sleep disorders. However, no age group is immune to a sleep disorder.
The overall number of people with OSA is known to be increasing due to major lifestyle problems such as more people now being overweight. Actual numbers are difficult to record as most cases go undiagnosed, but the increased number of nationwide Sleep Disorder Centres in the USA gives us a good idea of the growth of OSA. They have risen in total from 2.280 in 2010 to just over 2,850 in 2016. Their estimated revenue shows OSA is costing $7 billion per year, estimated to rise to $10 billion by 2020.
Similar figures exist for other countries but the economic impact of sleep apnea extends beyond the economic revenue for those who are treated the disease. The annual economic burden of undiagnosed sleep apnea in the USA is about $149.6 billion, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. This includes nearly $87 billion in lost productivity, $26 billion in car crashes and $6.5 billion in workplace accidents.
Untreated sleep apnea leads to a host of other serious health problems including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and depression. As a result, undiagnosed sleep leads to $30 billion a year in increased health care costs. The AASM estimates if everyone who suffers from sleep apnea received treatment, it would create a savings of just over $100 billion.
Chronic sufferers are advised to use CPAP machines every night when they sleep and this involves wearing a mask that fits over their nose, or their nose and also their mouth. The device increases air pressure in a patient’s throat, prevents the airway from collapsing, and eliminates obstructed breathing.
However a high number of patients struggle to adjust to CPAP machines and use other approved medical solutions and treatments such as an oral appliance that shifts the lower jaw forward opening airways during sleep. This Mandibular Adjustment Device (MAD) will successfully address the problem of obstruction of the airway and restore normal sleep.
As said earlier, men have a higher risk of sleep apnea, but recent studies are finding that women who have experienced menopause have the same risk as men. Weight and genetics also have an impact.
Some patients seek treatment after a partner complains about their loud snoring, or gaps in their breathing, but for those who live alone it might be tougher to diagnose.
Snoring is a common phenomenon, but some snorers may require medical treatment so they should look for the following key indicators that may indicate that they have sleep apnea. These include daytime fatigue, lapses into sleep during the day, and impairment of normal activity.
If snoring results in them having headaches in the morning, suffer from bouts of irritability, or have any of the other symptoms, or if it disturbs their partner, then they should seek to prevent this by using an oral appliance (MAD) which does not need a Doctor’s prescription, and do so immediately, and in severe cases they should seek out immediate medical advice.
There are always lots of questions asked of us by those who are considering using an oral appliance for the first time and therefore we’ve tried to answer as many as possible of those basic questions in this short article.
What exactly is an oral appliance?
Oral appliances are one of the key options that you can use to treat mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea, as well as snoring. They are sometimes alternatively called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS), Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD), or Mandibular Repositioning Appliances (MRA). They look a bit like a mouth guard that you might wear if you were playing a contact sport and they are worn at night while sleeping.
Do I simply snore or could it be sleep apnoea?
Snoring is very common and happens when your throat vibrates during sleep due to it having narrowed or even closed, which can happen for a number of different reasons. It is usually held open by a couple of small muscles and these may have relaxed causing it to narrow. When you breathe in it will therefore vibrate and make the sound we all know so well.
It’s very common for people to snore and can happen for both sexes and all age groups, but the age group at most risk are those of middle age and upwards. Men are a little more prone to snore than women at over 40% of their total but the number of women almost matches that figure nowadays.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition when the airway at the back of the throat is repeatedly blocked, partly or completely, during sleep. Although you may not realise, this stoppage in your breathing causes you to wake briefly and restart breathing once more. Your partner will observe this happening but not yourself and it can occur many times each hour. Snoring, obesity, and sleepiness in the daytime may suggest that a person has sleep apnoea and treatment for this is vital. If you need more advice you should contact your GP or local NHS Sleep Centre who will advise you.
How do oral appliances work?
The simplest way to describe it is that they push your lower jaw forwards. Your airway will open up more and there will be less of a risk that it will vibrate or be obstructed and cause you to snore.
As with all treatments, some people respond better than others but generally most people find them to be a satisfactory way to stop snoring. In the case of OSA, the oral appliance will work best if you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, if your sleep apnoea is a lot better when you lie on your side than when you lie on your back and if you are not overweight. If you have central sleep apnoea, which is much less common than obstructive sleep apnoea, then oral appliances will probably not help.
Severe or chronic cases of OSA will require treatment by CPAP which will stop sleep apnoea straight away in almost all people who use it but sometimes people find it difficult to wear the regulatory breathing mask which is attached to an oxygen pump and often stop their treatment. Rather than do nothing they are advised to use an oral appliance that will usually improve their sleep apnoea, but it may not completely stop it.
Are there any side effects?
The two main types are generally trouble free but any small problems can usually be quickly overcome. Type A can be used straight from the box and after immersion in hot water will shape to fit your dental profile. It can be re-modified as required over time until the fit is one that you find easiest and most comfortable to wear.
Type B is custom-fitted to your dental profile from a mold that you take and send back to the Dental laboratory that supplied it.
If the mouthpiece fits correctly correctly, it should be comfortable most of the time but because it pushes your jaw forward, some people may feel some discomfort initially, although it tends to get better with prolonged use. Mostly, any discomfort is in the joint at the back of your jaw, just in front of the ear. This should soon go away when you take the appliance out in the morning. Other people find that it causes saliva to build up in the mouth, or makes the teeth feel tender but these symptoms settle quickly with continuing use.
A 98% success rate and a 30-Day Money Back Guarantee on all our SleepPro Starter Appliances hopefully speaks for itself.
Sleep is important for biological recovery and takes around a third of our time each and every day. Low quality sleep, particularly that interrupted by snoring and other sleep disorders, may be depriving people of as much as two years worth of sleep over their lifetime.
Sleep experts agree that chronic poor sleep in general, and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in particular for anyone, but especially for older adults, can even be fatal.
A large-scale study (1) of over 160,000 people found that there was a clear association between sleep problems and the debilitating effects of a heart attack or stroke. A bad night’s sleep raises the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks and strokes and experts warn women are at higher risk because they are more prone to insomnia.
Difficulty getting off to sleep, staying asleep, and waking up not feeling refreshed increased the risks by 27 per cent, 11 per cent, and 18 per cent respectively. Women are at a slightly higher risk than men as they are more prone to insomnia because of differences in genetics, sex hormones and their reaction to stress.
Insomnia is a common problem regularly afflicting around one in every four adults. Sleep is therefore vital to all of us as restorative time and plays a significant role in healing and repairing the heart and blood vessels. It also gives the immune system and the cardiovascular system a rest and allows other organs to be restored.
The study was published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (1) and looked at the connection between insomnia symptoms and incidents or death from cardiovascular disease, including those from acute myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease and heart failure, or stroke, or a combination of issues.
However other factors such as smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure contribute significantly more to the overall risk of a heart attack or stroke than sleep problems do.
A spokesperson from The Sleep Council said: “This shows people must prioritise sleep as it’s as important as exercise and diet. People should have a sleep routine with regular bed-time and waking times and make sure they get as much fresh air and natural daylight as possible.”
Professor Valery Gafarov, of the World Health Organisation, said: “Sleep is not a trivial issue.”
Separate research has found that a sleep disorder might be as bad for triggering a heart attack or stroke as smoking or failing to exercise and that people who get less than seven hours are up to four times more likely to suffer a stroke and double their risk of a heart attack.
These research studies were extensively covered on BBC News (2) as well as the ITV show ‘This Morning’ and in both the Daily Express and other international newspapers including The Huffington Post.
The BBC found further research and stressed in its coverage that sleep loss had a serious effect on the school or working day, and that erratic and disruptive behaviour can be caused by even a single night’s loss of sleep. Lack of sleep does not only mean tired workers, says the study, but can also cause “unwanted” activity, which it links to lower levels of self-control.
In addition to this, tiredness brings personal danger to the individual, and to many others, when associated with either driving or handling machinery.
The study, published by the Rotterdam School of Management (2) says that such sleep-related disruption can cost billions in lost productivity.
Millions of people worldwide, including an estimated 80 million in the USA, suffer from some form of sleep problem, and nearly 60 per cent of them have a chronic sleep disorder that can harmfully affect their overall health and well-being. Two of the most common sleep disorders are insomnia and sleep apnoea and if you suffer from either then you should seek professional help and guidance.
Chin support straps for snorers have consistently proven themselves to be an effective answer to open-mouth snoring, and according to statistics this group of snorers accounts for a massive 80% of the snoring population.
As one of the industry’s most cost-effective and widely used anti-snoring devices on the market today, anti-snoring chin support straps are really easy to fit, wear and maintain, and for those who are looking for an introduction to anti-snoring products there’s simply nothing as easy as ordering, unwrapping, and wearing a chin support strap. It comes as one size fits all, and it can be used straight from the pack.
Of all the anti-snoring devices available, chin straps are one of the easiest to use. The simplest form of an anti-snoring chin strap consists of a cup made of fabric to provide support to the chin, and straps that go up the sides of the face and around the top of the head.
An open mouthed snorer could use either an oral appliance or a chin strap. The chin strap is designed to keep the mouth closed, but at the same time hold the jaw forward in exactly the same way, and prevents the tongue from slipping to the back of the throat.
It does exactly the same as a stop snoring mouthpiece does – a function that earns the latter the official name of MAD, or mandibular adjustment device. However many mouthpieces are either custom fitted or adjustable so that the advancement of the individual’s jaw can be precise, and as a result is both more effective and comfortable.
Although highly successful in the prevention of snoring, it is not however recommended that it is used on its own for the treatment of sleep apnoea, but it is sometimes recommended that it be used in conjunction with CPAP.
On the other hand it has other benefits. Unlike most other anti-snoring devices a chin support strap can be used if you wear dentures, braces, have gum disease or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.
What is more – and perhaps of interest for more experienced snorers– they can also assist closed mouthed snorers, who suffer from nasal blockage and or mild sleep apnoea, because, when used in combination with a mouthpiece they can help to reinforce the tongue and muscle stability needed for peaceful sleep provided by your oral appliance.
If your nose is blocked due to an allergic condition or because of an infection such as sinusitis, you unconsciously breathe in through the mouth to compensate for the inability to breathe in through the nose. This is the body’s way of ensuring there is enough oxygen entering your lungs.
As you can see, it offers a simple way to stop someone snoring, but also has other distinct advantages that are useful as well as unique, whether used alone or as part of a combination. It is inexpensive as a starter for the prevention of snoring, but for those who have more experience of snore prevention it should ideally be purchased as a combination as this brings even greater value in the savings offered.
Chin Support Straps are sometimes offered in different sizes, but by far the best way is to purchase a version that offers adjustable fitting by way of the Velcro connections at the back of the head where it fastens together. At different times it may need to be fastened less tight – particularly due to hair or beard growth.
As well as being simple to fit, straight from the pack, there is nothing further that you have to do before you use it. Chin straps are easily washable, and are incredibly useful for when you travel away from, either on holiday or for business, taking up very little space and needing hardly any looking after or cleaning after use. At the low prices offered many people find it useful to keep a spare.
Using a chin support strap can also avoid the problem of having a dry mouth – something that affects some users of oral appliances.
The chin support strap is easily affordable by everyone; it’s long lasting, and after a few nights of using it most snorers report that they do not even notice wearing it. This device offers an instantaneous, non-invasive remedy for snorers, and with its fully adjustable function, it can be worn safely by anyone.
This month we’ve seen lots of attention put on sleep, from it being celebrated as ‘National Bed Month’ to many countries celebrating a special World Sleep Day on Friday 17th March, with this year’s official slogan being “Sleep soundly, nurture life.” Now we’re going to change the clocks.
Spring will officially be here. The nights will become lighter, the temperatures will start getting (slightly) warmer, and during this Sunday night, 26 March 2017 we will see the UK move to British Summer Time: at 1am to be precise.
Daylight saving time (DST) or summer time is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months by one hour so that in the evening daylight is experienced for an hour longer, and normal sunrise times are sacrificed. Regions with summer time adjust clocks forward by one hour close to the start of spring and adjust them backward in the autumn to standard time.
‘Spring forward, fall back’ is usually the only way that anyone can ever remember if the clocks go forward or backward. Except it’s ‘Autumn’ for us in the UK, not ‘Fall’, obviously.
So the clocks are about to go forward, which is somewhat of a double-edged sword. It is obviously a good thing and something we’ve all looked forward to, but it also means that we lose an hour in bed, which is definitely a very bad thing. You might only be missing an hour of sleep, but it can have a negative effect on your body clock, and it can take up to a week to re-adjust and get back into your normal routine.
Sleep deprivation often hits the headlines and we are frequently told we need 8 hours a night. But how much sleep do we really need? Are we sleeping less than we used to and is today’s society really sleep deprived?
A recent meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine aimed to answer these questions. They reminded us that while we have every reason to think our sleep has never been better, we seem to have increasing complaints of fatigue and insomnia, and heavily disturbed sleep for many reasons, but particular sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep anoea, or the noise of our bedfellows snoring loudly.
Many of us have disturbed nights that leave us tired and irritable the next day. The rest of us may be sleeping for the recommended 8 hours – but is it quality sleep? It is increasingly being realised that poor sleep, both in terms of quality and quantity, has negative consequences for physical, mental and performance risk.
Sleep deprivation and sleep disorders are dangerous, costly, and impact our health and overall well-being. New research puts forth sleep as a major public health concern, and shows that the effects of a good night’s sleep are as beneficial for our happiness and well-being as winning the lottery might be.
In the USA insufficient sleep has been recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a major public health concern. It is currently estimated that between 50 and 70 million people in the United States have a sleep disorder, and one analysis revealed that over a third of adults do not get enough sleep.
Sleep deprivation leads to traffic accidents and occupational errors that can, in turn, cause industrial or environmental disasters and has many adverse health effects. According to the CDC, not getting enough sleep may lead to a range of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, or cancer, as well as generally increasing the risk of dying prematurely. A lack of sleep simply makes us unhappy and may even lead to depression.
Australia recognises the same problem and describes it as an epidemic. Research by the Australian Sleep Health Foundation has found between 33 and 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns that lead to fatigue and irritability, and it’s putting them at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health and unsafe behavioural patterns. The Official Sleep Day Ambassador has been offering tips to support sleep and help sustain health and wellbeing in the country, where they state that over 30% of adults now average less than 6 hours of sleep per day.
The message is the same everywhere – if you’re not sleeping well do something about it before really serious damage is done.
With more and more people now being aware of obstructive sleep apnoea, which has a rapidly growing number of sufferers, this is now a question that is asked often. However, approximately 80% of those who are believed to have obstructive sleep apnoea, commonly called OSA, still ignore it and leave it undiagnosed, thinking that it is not dangerous. Unfortunately that is a huge mistake and a severe danger to their health.
Snoring is a normal sleeping habit for almost 50% of people today. However, some noisy sleepers may actually stop breathing for 30 seconds or even longer many times during the night. Even if you snore very heavily that does not automatically mean that you have OSA – but if you do have OSA you will definitely be a snorer.
If you stop breathing while you’re sleeping, you probably have obstructive sleep apnoea, which affects millions of adults. This kind of sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue of the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, resulting in snoring. Patients with sleep apnea may stop breathing for a period of time that lasts anywhere from ten seconds to two minutes and these interruptions in breathing occur multiple times throughout the night.
These interruptions are called apneic events and can trigger a loud snorting or choking that wakes you up to take a breath. This occurs due to your heart rate slowing because of the lack of oxygen intake. This lower level of oxygen is picked up by the brain, which then sends a signal to speed your heart rate up and rouse you from sleep in order to take another breath, often causing you to snort, choke, or gasp. This cycle repeating throughout the night can lead to sleep deprivation and exhaustion the following day as your sleep cycle is consistently interrupted.
Sleep apnea has been linked by clinical research to numerous medical conditions such as stroke, diabetes, depression, ADHD, headaches, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.
OSA can be caused by many things and should be taken very seriously. While sleep apnea may happen to anyone, it is more common in men over the age of 40 who are overweight. This condition is also very common in overweight women as well as individuals with a nasal obstruction or with gastrointestinal disorders.
It should be looked into by a health professional even though self-treatment can be undertaken for it in a less severe form. If your sleep apnea is severe and is causing consistent disruptions, you may need to seek one or more of a variety of treatment options. The main options are:
CPAP: A CPAP, or continuous positive airflow pressure machine, is one of the most common treatments that is used for obstructive sleep apnoea, although many patients who try it subsequently reject it. They find it difficult and uncomfortable to use for a variety of reasons.
A mask is placed over your nose and mouth that is hooked up to a machine that pumps a constant stream of air into the airway, keeping it open and preventing your breathing passages from becoming obstructed while you sleep. The NHS now recommend that rather than reject it and have no prevention treatment, that chronic sufferers use an oral appliance rather than have no treatment.
Oral devices: These may be small and acrylic and worn inside of the mouth like a sports mouth guard and cause the repositioning of the lower jaw. Oral appliances are only effective for mild to moderate sleep apnea and commonly work by bringing your lower jaw or tongue forward during sleep to open the airway during sleep. Various types are available and they can even be made to specially fit your dental profile,
Sleep apnea may be more than just a common annoyance, as it has been linked to more serious conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and depression. It can also impact your ability to perform daily tasks, as it can reduce sleep quality resulting in exhaustion. If you are suffering from apneic events, talk to your doctor in order to discuss lifestyle changes and treatment options that may help prevent your condition from worsening.
One third of us are said to suffer from Bruxism – but what is it?
Bruxism is the habit of clenching, gnashing or grinding your teeth. Your teeth are not meant to be clenched and in contact all the time; they should only briefly touch each other when you swallow or chew.
When happening during sleep, bruxism is considered as a sleep-related disorder, and people who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnoea.
If teeth are in contact too often or too forcefully, it can wear down the tooth enamel, which is the outer layer that covers each tooth. Without this to protect the inner parts of your teeth, you may develop dental problems. Clenching or grinding your teeth regularly can also lead to pain in the jaw or in the muscles of the face. Bruxism mostly happens during sleep, but some people also suffer from this when awake.
Mild bruxism may not require treatment. However, in some people, bruxism can be frequent and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems.
Because you may have sleep bruxism and be unaware of it until complications develop, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.
Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:
Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
Increased tooth sensitivity
Jaw or face pain or soreness
Tired or tight jaw muscles
Pain that feels like an earache,
Dull headache originating in the temples
Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
We don’t completely understand what causes bruxism but possible physical or psychological causes may include an incredibly wide range of factors including tension, stress, sleep apnoea, abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth, stomach acid reflux, Response to pain from an earache, and even complications resulting from a disorder such as Huntington’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw, headaches, facial pain and disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth.
In many cases, treatment isn’t necessary. Many kids outgrow bruxism without treatment, and many adults don’t grind or clench their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, if the problem is severe, treatment options include certain dental approaches, therapies and medications.
If you have bruxism, your doctor or dentist may suggest ways to preserve or improve your teeth that will prevent or correct the wear to your teeth.
The principal recommendation will be a Splint or a Mouth Guards. These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding and are constructed of acrylic or soft materials and fit over your upper or lower teeth.
Correcting teeth that aren’t properly aligned may help if your bruxism seems to be related to dental problems. In severe cases when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend braces or oral surgery.
It’s important to protect your teeth and prevent the problem worsening as soon as possible and splints are an inexpensive way of doing so. For under £15 you can purchase a splint that will shape to your dental profile using the ‘boil and bite’ method. For a little more money you can have made a custom-fitted version that fits just your upper set, or by special request the lower set, dependent on which is required. Both types are worn at night.
Either type will protect your teeth from further damage and help you sleep better. Many sufferers start with the ‘instant splint’ and then move on to the custom night guard for longer-term protection.
New evidence has been found which says that snoring can cause you to have a stroke as well as leading to a higher risk of bronchitis
The vibration from regular snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat
This increases the risk of artherosclerosis and the chances of a stroke
It is considered as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis
Snoring can be infuriating if you are on the receiving end. But next time you feel forced to kick your partner out of bed for keeping you up all night, or take refuge in the spare room, bear in mind that anything more than an occasional snore could be a sign that they need medical help as it may have very serious negative health consequences.
Snoring always ranks as one of the most annoying habits with couples and it can affect you personally even if you don’t actually do it yourself. If you have a partner who snores, then you may find yourself suffering from a lack of sleep because of it, and this can lead to a number of problems, including increasing your risk for all kinds of different diseases and conditions.
However a less well-known fact from new emerging scientific research is proving that snoring isn’t just bad for you because it disrupts your sleep… it may also be bad for you because of what it can do to your throat! Far from something to be brushed off, these nocturnal noises are rarely benign.
The constant vibration of habitual snoring causes damage and inflammation to the throat, and may be linked to thickening of the carotid arteries, which run up the sides of the neck supplying the head with blood.
Researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, say that this increases the risk of artherosclerosis, which is the ‘furring’ of the insides of the blood vessels, and as a result it greatly increases the chances of stroke.
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a disorder that occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic interruptions in breathing. It has long been linked to heart disease and a range of other serious health problems.
The condition is thought to affect about five per cent of the world’s adult population to some degree, with 250,000 Britons suffering what is considered to be a severe form of it. However, almost half of the population are thought to be habitual snorers, without OSA, and similar figures exist for most other developed nations. Australian Health figures recently quoted it as being 44% with the figures for the USA even higher than the UK.
In the Henry Ford study, experts reviewed data for more than 900 patients, aged 18 to 50, who had been evaluated by the institution’s sleep centre. None of the volunteers suffered from OSA. They completed a survey regarding their snoring and had scans of their carotid arteries.
Compared to non-snorers, snorers were found to have significantly thicker arterial walls, an early sign of cardiovascular disease.
Surprisingly, those with high cholesterol, diabetes and those who smoked did not have thickened carotid arteries, leading the researchers to suggest that snoring was the biggest health concern for these people.
The same vibrations in the throat have been suggested as a factor in the development of chronic bronchitis, inflammation of lower airways accompanied by a persistent cough and the production of mucus or phlegm.
Analysis found that individuals who snored six to seven times per week were 68 per cent more likely to develop the condition. The association was strongest in individuals who were overweight, but smoking was not a factor.
There are stop snoring remedies available online to prevent the problem, and no prescription is needed, but the fact of the matter is that if you are a habitual snorer then you need to take action quickly. Don’t let snoring affect your health when it can be such an easy problem to fix!
No one wants to be a snorer, and many are concerned that doing so will keep others awake at night. But new YouGov research in the UK reveals it’s now actually abnormal notto snore, after the age of forty at least.
Overall 45% of people admit to being snorers. This ranges from 22% amongst 18-24 year olds to 55% amongst over 60s. Not only does the tendency to snore increase with age but also it is also more likely to do so if you are a man, as data shows that 51% of men snore compared to 40% of women.
The majority of couples over the age of 40 include a snorer. 55% of 40-59 year-olds say their partner snores, and 57% of those over-60. Among the group of men who were aged over 60, almost two-thirds were snorers.
In Australia, similar figures from the Sleep Health Foundation show that between 33 and 45 per cent of Aussies have poor sleep patterns that are often due to heavy snoring, and these lead to fatigue and irritability – putting them at risk of low productivity, damage to their mental health, unsafe driving and behavioural problems.
Director of the Sleep Health Foundation, Dr David Hillman said: “Just like obesity, smoking, drinking too much and not exercising enough, sleep problems cause real harm in our community.”
It’s getting worse in Australia too. The study found that the numbers of sleep problems among Australians are 5 to 10 per cent higher than when the Sleep Health Foundation published its last survey on sleep health in 2010.
What causes snoring?
Snoring is caused by the soft tissue in your head and neck vibrating as you breathe in during your sleep. The soft tissue it can affect includes nasal passages, the soft palate, the base of the tongue and the tonsils.
As you get your nightly rest, the airways in your neck and head relax and narrow, which increases the speed at which you breathe. This also changes the air pressure in your airways, which in turn causes the soft tissue to vibrate, causing the snoring sound. The vibrations that happen during snoring are thought to weaken blood vessels and muscles in the head and neck. This further reduces the ability of the airways to keep open, meaning snoring is likely to be more frequently and even louder.
Some people snore so loudly that it can be heard in the next room and wakes up other members of their household. Others snore every single night and are virtually unable to sleep without making a noise. However, some people snore very infrequently and it only affects them if they are suffering from a cold or flu.
Does anything make snoring worse?
There are certain factors that can make snoring even worse because they cause the airways to narrow even further when a person is asleep and one of the main factors is obesity. A person with a neck circumference more than 17 inches sees extra pressure applied on the airways. In addition, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is also known to cause the airway to narrow, which in turn increases the risk of snoring.
Meanwhile certain sedatives and anti-depressants have shown to have the same affect on the airwaves as smoking and alcohol. Common allergies can also exacerbate snoring as substances such as pollen can cause the nose to become blocked.
Is there a cure for the snoring?
Although snoring can be treated to improve the effects there is no complete cure – but it can be prevented and significantly lessened as a problem. There’s a great deal of information available online which helps but some people will go to see their GP when their snoring starts to affect their sleeping patterns or is causing major problems in their relationship. Although it may surprise you, it is well documented that snoring is the third most important cause of divorce. In its most dangerous form, snoring can be one of the main symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea; something we’ve described in detail in our previous articles.
A chronic snorer should try changing their lifestyle first and lose weight, but there is also a range of medically approved anti-snoring devices available that help to minimise snoring, including mouth guards of various types that vary in type and cost to suit the individual and the degree of the problem.