Cure Snoring Now
You don't have to snore
In future articles we will deal with apnoea (when the snorer stops breathing for seconds at a time while they are asleep) and the ways in which this can be harmful to your health. Here we'll cover the basics of simple snoring and some of the things you can do about it.
Snoring is a widespread problem. There are an estimated 15 million snorers in Britain. Many of these sleep with a partner and/or have friends or family on the other side of a thin wall so, when we consider that some snorers can produce 100 decibels of noise - which is equivalent to sleeping next to a pneumatic drill on full power - it's easy to see that around half the population are not sleeping properly. Statistics indicate that this percentage is similar worldwide.
Not only does this have a serious impact on relationships, fatigue can have a disatrous effect on performance at work or behind the wheel of a car.
Men snore more than women, primarily because men tend to accumulate fat around the neck whereas women build it up around the hips and thighs. This changes after the menopause because, as women get older, like men, their muscle tone tends to diminish and they put on extra weight. By the age of 70 there is no difference between the numbers of male and female snorers.
So what can you do about it?
Fat around the throat reduces the size of the airway. So, losing weight would be a big step in the right direction.
Another simple remedy is to sleep on your side, rather than on your back. When you sleep on your back, your mouth tends to drop open and the jaw drops back, reducing the size of the airway.
You should also cut down on alcohol, which relaxes the muscles around the throat and allows them to 'sag' into the airway.
If none of this is working, you need first to identify what kind of snorer you are:
1. Is the problem with your nose?
Press a finger against the side of your nose to shut one nostril. Close your mouth and breathe in through the open nostril. Does the nostril collapse (close)? If so, prop it open with a cotton bud and see if that makes it easier to breathe when you repeat the exercise. Try the other nostril.
If this is you, products which open the nasal passages should help: nasal strips, nose dilators, inhalers. You can get all of these from the chemist. Nasal blockage can be caused by allergies, so it might be worth investing in a hypo-allergenic pillow.
2. Are you a mouth breather?
Try to make a snoring noise with your mouth open. Then again with your mouth closed. If you can only snore with your mouth open, you are probably a mouth breather.
If this is you, a device to keep your mouth closed at night should help. The Somni Snore Guard (about £35) is said to be good but I've never prescribed it for any of my patients - mainly because I have yet to come across anyone for whom mouth breathing is the primary cause of their snoring (the cause of gum problems yes, but snoring no).
3. Is the problem at the base of your tongue and the surrounding tissues?
This is, in my experience, by far the largest group.
Stick your tongue out as far as it will go and grip it gently between your teeth. Try to make a snoring noise. If you can't, or if the nosie is reduced, then you are probably in this category. This is most effectively treated by means of a mandibular advancement device which pulls your jaw forward and opens the airway during sleep. I've used many different designs over the years and, in my opinion, the Sleepwell is the best, which is why I prescribe it for 60% of cases.
Treatments have been developed that cause scaring of the soft palate, making it more rigid and less likely to flop across the airway. These works to a degree but your soft palate was designed to be flexible for a reason - to block off the windpipe during eating and prevent food going down 'the wrong way'. It is much better to improve the tone of the muscles through exercises. You can find a very cheap an effective product for doing that here - the Snore-No-More-Cure:
But what if none of this works? What if you have apnoea?
We'll cover the answers to those questions in the next article.
Tom Nolan is a dentist with over 30 years’ experience.
If you found this article useful, you should check out his book
Also available as a download. This book is packed with practical advice and will tell you everything you need to know to keep your mouth healthy, trouble-free and beautiful for the rest of your life.