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Snoring - How to Stop Before It Ruins Your Relationship
Habitual snoring affects 44% of men and 28% of women - so it really is a huge problem. Snoring is often thought of as a joke, but for their partner it can be no laughing matter. Relentless snoring causing sleepless nights can put an unbearable strain on even the soundest of relationships. In fact, in some American states snoring is actually a legal ground for divorce! New research from the Mayo clinic in America confirms that many people are losing valuable sleep because their partner snores loudly. In the research, of 10 married couples, it showed the non-snoring spouse lost an average of one-hour sleep per night because of their partner's snoring.
Allen Davey, the founder of The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association says, "The prime motivator for people to get help with snoring is relationship problems. Many couples find the only way to cope with snoring is to sleep apart. The snorer who is 'banished' into the spare room often feels hard done by, and their partner feels angry about being kept awake." Research shows that in the UK 66% of relationships suffer as a result of snoring.
The anti-snoring plan of action
- You need to discover the cause of the snoring so you can treat it appropriately e.g. if you have a blocked nose then use of a nasal spray may do the trick.
- If you are unsure of the cause, or perhaps it may be a variety of different factors, experiment by changing simple things first. For instance, alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant and can increase snoring. So try to have your evening tipple at least three hours before going to bed. Research shows 98% of the male lager drinking population snore!
- Being overweight is the prime cause of snoring. This is because fat deposits, which reduce the size of the throat, can squash the airways. It may therefore be helpful to follow a healthy weight loss programme if needs be.
- Smoking is another major cause of snoring as it irritates the lining of the nose causing it to swell. Giving up or cutting down may therefore help to reduce or prevent snoring.
- Try to sleep on your side, as snoring often occurs when sleeping on the back. Sewing a tennis ball into the back of the snorers' pyjamas may help to keep them lying sideways.
- Raise the head of your bed upwards by placing a brick under the bedposts at the head of the bed. This will give you a sleeping position that may help reduce or prevent snoring.
Remedies and treatments available
There are several remedies available on the market, and medical options too.
- Natural remedies use essential oils to tone the soft palate to help stop snoring vibrations. Lookout for GoodNight Stop Snore - studies show it can help stop or reduce snoring in up to 76% of cases - or Snorenz, studies show it can be 97% effective in reducing snoring noise.
- Anti-snoring devices: If you snore because your tongue partly blocks your airway whilst you sleep then a mouthpiece that pulls your lower jaw and tongue forward to open up the airway may be helpful. Devices can also be worn to hold the nostrils open.
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) nasal masks blow air into the nose to keep the airways open whilst sleeping.
- Surgical procedures: Laser surgery (done under local anaesthetic) can trim and reshape soft tissue at the back of the mouth (most snoring is caused by an enlarged soft palate and uvula which vibrates during sleep). Several treatments (3-5 of around 10 minutes each) are generally needed, normally spaced 4 weeks apart. Apparently 85% of patients are said to find their snoring cured, and 12% are said to find their snoring reduced. Research is also currently underway on a new, minimally invasive technique - radiofrequency energy (RFe). This works by inserting a radiofrequency energy-generating electrode into the excess soft tissue that blocks the upper airway. Gentle heating then destroys this obstructive tissue. Treatment takes just minutes, with little post-treatment pain or discomfort. Results show a 70% reduction in snoring in the short term (no long-term results are yet available).
Do feel sorry for the snorer
Although it may be difficult, we should feel sorry for the snorer as their health is suffering too. Snoring actually disturbs the sleeping patterns of the snorer, so makes restful sleep difficult. Snoring may also be a sign of sleep apnoea, a disorder where breathing is momentarily cut off several times during sleep (snorers will suddenly stop breathing, then resume with a snort or choking sound). This is considered a serious medical condition because sudden drops in blood oxygen levels raise blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Repeated awakenings with sleep apnoea make normal restorative sleep impossible - so the sufferer may feel constantly tired and have a tendency to fall asleep during the day. Sleep apnoea affects approximately 9% of men and 4% of women aged 30-60 years. Do visit your GP if you believe you have sleep apnoea or if you need help with persistent 'simple' snoring, as much can be done to help you (and give your partner and the rest of your family relief!).