Snoring to your heart's content

If you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep then take care because it can greatly affect the health of your heart. So many recent medical studies from all around the world have underlined this fact for us so there is no doubt about it.

I’m not talking about the problem of insomnia – which is a totally separate issue – but about seriously heavy snoring or even sleep apnoea, a disorder that is clearly characterised by pauses in breathing during the night’s sleep. This can cause blood pressure to increase significantly and is primarily caused by abnormalities in the respiratory tract that affect airflow when sleeping.

Interestingly, it is not those with sleep apnoea that consult their GP but usually it’s the person who sleeps next to them, or even worse, someone who cannot sleep next to them, due to the heavy snoring or sudden pauses in breathing.

It’s usually the latter alarming event that brings about the rush to see a doctor.

One of the signs of really disturbed sleep is feeling tired during the day despite believing that you’ve had a long night’s rest. If you feel sleepy for no reason, check with the person who sleeps next to you or your doctor, just to make sure because in the long run, lack of sleep can cause chronic oxygen shortage, and the body will release substances that trigger the nervous system and essentially tell the blood vessels to tighten up, causing high blood pressure.

Apart from that it can damage the inner lining of blood vessel walls, interfering with the substance that causes the blood vessels to dilate, which in turn affects the blood pressure and heart function and leads to heart failure. Even worse, the heart can stop beating altogether if the person leaves the condition untreated long enough to develop a weakened heart muscle or heart failure.

Simply put, those with heavy snoring problems or sleep apnoea have a greater chance of having high blood pressure, heart disease and a stroke.

So if snoring is the cause of your high blood pressure, treating it will help bring your blood pressure level back to normal – or at least make it easier to control. In mild cases, losing weight can help a great deal, and it also lowers the chance of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. Changing sleeping positions can also make a difference.

Avoiding alcoholic drinks, sleeping pills and smoking are also very important to the treatment and if the condition doesn’t improve, consult a doctor, because there can be many reasons for the problem of sleeplessness or snoring.

To determine the real cause, careful examination is needed. It is best to start treatment early before sleep apnoea has permanently damaged your health. If you sleep next to someone who snores, listen to the sound of his or her snoring and encourage them to do something about it before it becomes serious.

For heavy snorers, one of the simplest ways to ensure that breathing remains normal during the night is by the use of a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) or Snoring Mouthpiece. They are easy to obtain, inexpensive, efficient and of course NHS Approved. Simply wear it at night and that long elusive good night’s sleep is yours again – and also your partner’s.

By John Redfern

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