Some snoring is harmful and some isn’t – and this is how to tell the difference

Not all snoring is harmful so it helps to be able to recognise when it’s actually dangerous as it can sometimes cause a very serious lack of oxygen and life threatening sleep disorders. Over one third of the people who snore are believed to have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

OSA Diagram

Overall it is estimated that 60% of men and 40% of women snore by the time they have reached their sixties and if they have OSA, then the primary sleep apnoea symptoms are pauses in breathing during sleep. They’re related to snoring and the resulting lack of oxygen to the brain during sleep.

Not all snoring however is connected to sleep apnoea. Loud breathing noises or ‘snoring’ can be described as a normal event. However sleeping with your mouth open and pauses in breathing may indicate a sleep disorder. If you sleep on your back, your tongue falls into your airway, and pauses in breathing can reach a duration of 10 seconds, and happen as many as 100 times in an hour.

The reason for your snoring stems from the relaxation of the throat muscles when you sleep. Less airway volume can mean that the relaxed throat vibrates when you breathe and this is the universal cause of snoring whether it’s harmful as described above or just ‘normal’ snoring.

In addition to snoring, other symptoms of OSA include:

  • Gasping for air whilst sleeping
  • Waking up with Morning headaches
  • Feeling extra tired during the day
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irritability or mood swings

For optimal breathing, we should be breathing through our nose. Sleep apnoea is your body experiencing breathing dysfunction during sleep. Nasal breathing prevents oxygen deprivation and it acts to increase blood flow and deliver oxygen to the lungs.

The tongue is one of the main factors in snoring and sleeping with the mouth open. It can also reveal sleep apnoea symptoms. Your tongue contains and connects to one of the largest groups of muscles in the body and the muscles of the tongue support the airways with connections to the jaws, neck, and base of the skull. It also connects to the hyoid bone, which is a floating bone that supports your airway.

When you go to sleep, the primary muscles inside your tongue and your throat relax and for you to keep your airway open, support muscles for the throat must hold firm. The normal posture of the tongue is to sit against the top of your mouth. This position turns on the muscles that support the throat and the airways.

Sleeping with an open mouth is a sign your tongue is not supporting your airway. The tongue can then fall back into the airway, blocking normal breathing. Mouth breathing can also cause lack of oxygen and OSA.

Sleep disorders have become a bigger problem than ever and this was underlined this week by the NHS figures which reveal that the number of tests carried out by the NHS to diagnose people with sleep disorders across England has doubled in the past decade.

NHS data shows that 147,610 sleep diagnostic tests were carried out last year – compared with 69,919 in 2007-08. This is more than double.

Those with OSA usually manage it by either CPAP treatment, which involves wearing an oxygen mask at night, or by using custom-fitted oral devices that keep the airways open. It also helps to lose weight and in some more extreme cases people can have surgery to remove excess throat tissue.

Doctors attribute the rise in the number of sleep tests to a greater sense of overall public awareness about the wider health implications of not getting enough sleep. It is estimated that about 1.5 million people in the UK suffer from the condition, although doctors warn many people will have never been formally diagnosed.

“Sleep apnoea is a serious condition leading to other problems such as high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to strokes and heart attacks,” said Dr Stephen Bianchi from Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital. “We think about 2% of females, and 4% of males in the UK have significant sleep apnoea. We also suspect that 80% of those with the condition are unaware they have it.”

John Redfern


Untreated Sleep Apnoea Could Cut 10 To 20 Years Off Your Life

The body and mind need sleep in order to function properly. Sleep apnoea, or constantly stopping and starting breathing at night, is one of the things holding millions of people back from sleeping properly.

Sleep Apnea

It often goes undiagnosed, but it comes with surprisingly apparent symptoms that can significantly worsen your quality of life and also shorten it.

If you look at some of the most commonly treated conditions in any country of the world right now such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and headaches – all of these can be medically associated with an obstructed airway.

Doctors say a healthier lifestyle including proper diet, exercise and weight loss can prevent sleep apnoea from occurring. However, if you’re experiencing multiple symptoms, you should speak with your physician.

It is a common problem among all ages and both genders, but don’t let snoring ruin your relationship or a good night’s sleep. Learn what causes snoring and how you can put it to bed with our expert advice.  If your partner has ever told you that you snore, bear in mind the danger you might be putting yourself in every single time that it happens. It may mean that you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Some heavy, regular snorers have sleep apnoea, a condition where the airways become completely blocked during sleep with symptoms that include large pauses in breathing, leaving them waking-up gasping for air. Many heavy snorers tend to wake themselves frequently in sleep, with the resulting patchy sleep leading to daytime sleepiness. Regardless of whether it’s snoring or sleep apnoea, it can easily and quickly be prevented.

Even for those who sleep alone, snoring is no laughing matter. According to the National Sleep Foundation in the USA, regular heavy snorers are more likely to experience thickening or abnormalities in the carotid artery, which can lead to atherosclerosis; a hardening of the arteries that is known to trigger numerous vascular diseases.

Daytime grogginess, irritability and mood swings, problems concentrating and remembering, and an increased likelihood of car or other types of accidents are just some of the complications arising from interrupted, snore-ridden sleep. Since almost half of us regularly snore, isn’t it worth knowing what’s likely to be causing it, and what are the most effective measures of putting it to bed?

Products are available to open the airway. The C-PAP machine is one of the most recognisable treatments, and is used to prevent both snoring and sleep apnoea. Other less aggressive options include custom-fitted mouthpieces that reposition your jaw and open your upper airways so you can get more oxygen while you sleep. Other types that you can shape for yourself are easily available and both kinds are medically approved.

SleepPro oral appliances are not only rated by the NHS in Britain as the top performing products in their extensive regular tests, but are also issued directly to patients who consult many of their Specialist Sleep Clinics. The NHS results were published in the Lancet in 2014, but regular testing still continues to ensure the correct products stay at the top of their recommendation list – position that SleepPro still enjoys.

There at least 120 such oral appliances licensed in the US, for example, but all are variations of the original appliance and stick to the same principle. The prices vary greatly and is another reason stated by the British NHS for using SleepPro, as affordability is considered to be important too.

While Mandibular Advancement Appliances (MAD’s) can be bought over the counter, or online, it usually pays long-term to have a customised one made and fitted to your dental profile. It feels more comfortable, works better and lasts longer. Having a custom-made one can, in time, become much more cost effective, and more effective overall.

It’s vitally important to remember that OSA is a serious medical condition and it should never be ignored – but it should be prevented.

John Redfern


New Health Crisis – time to Stop Snoring and control OSA It will reduce blood pressure problems and prevent Diabetes

Poor diabetes care in England is leading to avoidable deaths, record rates of complications and huge costs to the NHS, which although spending 10% of its budget on diabetes, most goes on managing complications not preventing them. However this is a worldwide problem and not one to be found just in Britain.

Diabetes in the Press

Snoring raises blood pressure and causes diabetes

Despite constant campaigning, it is only now being strongly recommended that Governments and Health Services act to curb a huge health crisis related to all these inter-related factors. However these facts are not new and were published as headlines well over a year ago – and there were other strong indicators before that.

Research has shown that disturbed sleep contributes to overeating and weight gain, which raises blood pressure, which causes diabetes, and that oxygen deprivation can also cause the onset of raised blood pressure and Diabetes. Anyone with night-time breathing issues like snoring or sleep apnea often has high blood sugar and is almost twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a recent study of 6,000 US adults.

Recent figures show that the number of adults in England with diabetes has risen to more than 3 million, and was going up by almost 5% every year. Diabetes UK says the disease is the fastest growing health threat of our times and current care models are not working to get on top of the problem.

The number of people with diabetes is increasing, as is the number of patients who develop complications.

People with sleep apnea were nearly twice as likely as normal sleepers to develop diabetes, and snorers were 27 per cent more likely. Those with daytime sleepiness were also about 50 per cent more likely than those without that symptom to develop diabetes.

The research clearly showed that the more disturbed-breathing symptoms people had during sleep, the greater their diabetes risk. Snoring is a main contributor to many health problems and is at the core of them all. Research has constantly proved it.

MPs have criticised the Department of Health and the NHS in England for being “too slow” to act in preventing and treating diabetes.

A report by the Public Accounts Committee says variations in the care of both type 1 and 2 diabetes mean the annual cost to the health service will continue to rise and not only is the number of people with diabetes increasing, but also the number of patients who develop complications.

For people aged 16 and over the bill currently stands at £5.5bn a year. Most of the £5.5bn-a-year cost is spent on complications from diabetes, such as heart and kidney disease, blindness and nerve damage, leading to amputations. All these things can be reduced by catching the disease early, and managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol, and also by preventing snoring.

It isn’t difficult to understand that depriving the brain of a continuous oxygen supply is highly dangerous and can eventually be fatal. Constant research studies at leading hospitals and Universities throughout the world prove the links time and time again, but little is done. We still fail to act – and that includes National Governments, their Health Ministries, and also ourselves.

It is well known that in all countries that most known cases of heavy snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) remain ignored and untreated, although some are better documented than others. Not only that, but treatment is no longer complicated – in fact it’s simple and can be self-administered in an easy, inexpensive way – and without prescription.

All developed nations have now approved the stop snoring mouthpiece as the best way to tackle and prevent both heavy snoring, and mild to moderate OSA, but if Governments don’t act soon then the crisis will develop even more.

For a small cost you can protect yourself from all these problems. You now have to ask yourself what is the value of your good health, and maybe even your life. It’s time for you to do something about it – either for yourself, for your partner, or for both of you.

John Redfern