STOP SNORING WEEK • Day 5

Ladies – Do you Snore – or are you actually very ill?

According to the very latest research, one woman for every two men are now diagnosed with sleep disorders. Basically their partner may snore – or it may even be themselves that is snoring. No longer ladies, can you tell your men that snoring is a man thing.

Men are also more likely to seek help for their snoring, outnumbering women eight to one, which could support the argument that men’s snoring is more disruptive than women’s snoring. But there has been a recent growth in women seeking help for their problem.

Mostly help is sought for social reasons – disruption – but if that problem is not just snoring, but obstructive sleep apnoea, then there are some very serious health implications too.

A study found that women who sleep with snorers might get decent sleep just 73 per cent of the time they are in bed; women who do not sleep with snorers get more than 90 per cent. So a woman who gets eight hours of beauty rest is awakened multiple times and might really get only five or six hours. More disturbing is the university’s finding that couples who are plagued by snoring are more likely to divorce, although we doubt that anyone has ever listed it on divorce papers as the reason for the split.

Men, or Women, who complain of persistent sleep disruption should encourage their partner to see their family doctors to rule out underlying problems such as anaemia, depression, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorder, etc. The doctor might also recommend a sleep study to rule out sleep apnoea, which is easily treated with positioning pillows, mouthpieces and CPAP devices. Sleep apnoea occurs when breathing stops because the airway becomes completely blocked.

‘Female First’ reports that over 40% of people say their partners snoring habit has a negative impact on how well they sleep and while a third of people have no idea why they snore, more than half have never done anything to stop themselves doing so.

This blind acceptance by snorers is contributing to some extreme reactions from long-suffering partners. Nearly a third of other halves resort to sleeping in another room while 2 in 5 engage in bedtime tussles, moving their partner from their back to their side to help ease the noise.

And this now applies to both men and women – not men alone – but women are not snoring more – there are just more of them seeking help. As obesity rates continue to rise and extra weight has an influence over snoring for lots of people, it is not unexpected that people are linking it with recent reports that more women are coming to clinics to stop their snoring. Drinking and smoking are additional contributory lifestyle factors.

If it is simply snoring, invest in an NHS recommended oral appliance, a dental mouthpiece, and you will quickly put it right.

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, you should consult your GP who may decide in consultation that you need a CPAP machine for night-time use. However, in the USA, where snoring problems and OSA have been accepted and treated for many years in advance of the UK, an alternative to a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine is becoming a more popular remedy for sleep apnoea.

Sleep Centre Directors in the US are recommending mouthpieces for the problem as they are likely not to deter patients from coming forward and they are also likely to be used much more. Rejection of CPAP has been a problem for many years and for many reasons including extreme dryness of the throat and even claustrophobia.

A relevant comment from a leading Sleep Centre Director, Dr Michael Coats, was made last Thursday on Sleep Apnoea Day:

“What we’re finding is the compliance rates for the oral appliances is higher,” he said. “The efficacy or the success rate of the oral appliance may be a little lower, although, if the patient is not wearing a CPAP at all, the next best thing can be an oral appliance to help them.”

By John Redfern