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Snoring and Sleep Apnoea - One Is an Annoyance the Other Can Be a Serious Health Problem.

Updated on September 28, 2017
Peter Geekie profile image

A retired pharmaceutical and industrial chemist, author and historian specialising in military events.

Snoring and sleep apnoea snorts can drive your partner mad.
Snoring and sleep apnoea snorts can drive your partner mad.
What happens when you snore
What happens when you snore
Raw garlic helps both
Raw garlic helps both
Mandibular advancement device
Mandibular advancement device

Before we look at this in detail we should be aware that one is an annoyance to those around you but the other may be indicative of a serious or even fatal condition.

We will take them one at a time and deal with snoring first of all. This is a common, simple but extremely annoying or distressing condition for your partner and/or others. It is well understood but there seems to be no conventional medicinal cure, although, there are some surgical procedures and a myriad of alternative medicine or gadget remedies.

In most instances it is necessary to relax the nasal passages and throat and good success has been achieved by using essential oils. I would suggest you try the following massaged gently into the chest or used in an essential oil vaporiser without the carrier oil addition. (If using a flame vaporiser do not go to sleep with it burning, just allow the vapour to circulate in the room 15-30 mins before going to sleep)

Snoring essential oil blend

Use a 30 ml mixing bottle


5 drops Lavender oil

5 drops Rose oil (any type - use cheaper blend but not synthetic)

5 drops Eucalyptus oil

5 drops Cinnamon Bark oil

5 drops Clove Bud oil

2 drops Basil oil

2 drops Clary Sage

2 drops Myrtle oil

Top up bottle with a small amount of Wheatgerm oil and primarily Sweet Almond oil or Avocado oil. If you have dry, sun damaged or sensitive skin on your chest use Argan or Rose Hip oil.

Before making up this blend I would suggest you try a simple blend of Lavender and Rose essential oils and see if there is any improvement.

It must be said that blends to help reduce snoring are notoriously selective. What will work for one will be totally useless for another. If you find an improvement, but not a cure, try adjusting the amounts or leaving out one or more oils. Other oils that are known to work are Cassia, Cedarwood, Fennel, Frankincense, Hyssop, Mandarin and Sage.

A word of warning, certain blends of essential oils can cause surreal or vivid dreams. If these concern you try substituting one or more of the oils.

As we become older our quality of sleep deteriorates and often this disturbance not only results in poor restless sleep but can cause snoring as you are not relaxing. To help overcome this we need to increase the amount of Melatonin the body is receiving. Normally Melatonin, which is a hormone, is produced in the right amount naturally by the body but this production starts to gradually diminish when we get past our teens. To rectify this take a 3mg tablet every night and avoid alcohol last thing.

Now we can look at Sleep Apnoea which is nowhere near as common but it seems a greater number of cases each year are reported. Most of the oils and herbs recommended will be suitable for snoring also.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), as it is more correctly called, comes about due to an obstruction causing the airflow to the lungs being prevented. It becomes a problem if the breathing ceases for more than 10 seconds and at least 10 times an hour. It will only occur during sleep as during the day your breathing is automatically regulated. At night when you are asleep the brain will register that you have stopped breathing and will jolt you awake usually accompanied by a loud snore or snort. This sleep/wake cycle will destroy your restful sleep pattern and leave you feeling tired and sleepy during the day.

Often the sufferer will not realise this is the cause of their excess tiredness or bad moods and just write it off as overwork. However your partner can often help and can perhaps tell you if you are suffering from:

Loud heavy snoring, with long pauses and even gasps.

Constant tiredness with daytime drowsiness..

Irritable with short temper

Headaches particularly in the morning

Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night

Waking up with a sore or dry mouth and throat


Loss of memory and depression.

Lack of interest in sex

In children the symptoms can be a little more difficult to identify but watch out for:

Unusual sleeping positions

Perspiring excessively during the night (night sweats)


Night terrors

Tendency to breathe through the mouth

Hyperactivity or inattentiveness

Problems in growth and development

Hostile behaviour

Poor school performance

All or some of these symptoms does not mean you are suffering from OSA as people can all get them from time to time.

To diagnose Sleep Apnoea is an expensive process and starts by recording what are called the AHI (apnoea/hypopnoea index) which is the number of times it occurs. To do this requires a night in hospital to monitor your sleep quality (sleep study). If from that it is decided further investigation is required then you will undergo a “polysomnography” which will entail monitoring the brain, muscle, mouth and nose airflow, chest and abdomen rise and fall, heart rate and blood oxygen levels and an ECG. They will also record in vision and sound. Because of the cost “mini” surveys at home are increasingly used.

To treat Sleep Apnoea in mild and moderate cases, weight loss and what are known as “mandibular advancement devices” (i.e. plastic devices that fit in the mouth and “hold the lower jaw and tongue forward making more space to breathe and prevent snoring.)”. In more severe cases the same devices are used but they also use a positive airway pressure device (CPAP).

There are two other conditions known as Central & Mixed Sleep Apnoea. In the case of Central what happens is the brain “forgets” to tell you to breathe. In the case of Mixed you have both OSA and CSA and this is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnoea

Sleep Apnoea essential oil blend

Use a 30 ml mixing bottle

5 drops Thyme oil

5 drops Lavender oil (use a good quality oil not lavandin)

5 drops Frankincense oil

2 drops Ylang Ylang oil

2 drops Grapefruit oil

2 drops Mandarin oil

2 drops Primrose, oil

2 drops Chamomile oil

Top up the bottle with Argan oil. .

Use either in a vaporiser or rub onto your chest or the soles of your feet.

The following herbs and remedies can help both snoring and sleep apnoea.

Valerian root may help to relieve sleep apnoea in doses of 50 mg to 100 mg capsules one hour prior to sleep. The only drawback with Valerian is that it smells like stinky bed socks.

A tea made from both ginger and cinnamon has excellent sedative qualities and that drinking this tea at bedtime each night can help to improve sleep for those suffering from insomnia, sleep apnoea and snoring. To make the tea, simply grate fresh ginger and a cinnamon stick and add it to a cup of hot water with a small amount of honey.

From ancient times chamomile essential oil and tea has been used as a sedative and to promote natural sleep. Chamomile acts as a natural anti-inflammatory which helps those with enlarged tonsils or soft tissue in the nasal cavity that can result in pauses in breathing. You can brew chamomile tea and add valerian or catnip which will encourage restful sleep. The essential oil can be used together with other oils in vapourisers.

Passionflower is sold as passiflora 1000 mg tablets and is recommended for times of stress and anxiety to promote calming and relaxation of the mind. Passiflora is a mild sedative which may help insomnia and also has some pain killing properties.

Lemon balm tea (also known as Melissa) is actually a fast-acting stimulant which, strangely enough will enable you to relax and produce a calm and sedated sleep. It can be bought as either loose tea or in tea bags. It has been used since the Renaissance period to fight insomnia and sleeping difficulties.

John’s Wort (also known as Hypericum extract) has the potential for treating sleep disorders, particularly insomnia. It can be an ingredient in other sleep aid medication or taken alone in a concentrated pill form. Use with caution as it can make you drowsy during the day and give headaches and dry mouth. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Garlic is particularly good to help treating sleep apnoea as it will help sooth and reduce enlarged tonsils and inflammation in the respiratory system which makes it easier to breathe. The accepted way is to chew on a garlic clove before bedtime, which is rather antisocial. You can also make up a paste of crushed garlic and butter which can be spread on toast.

To help regulate breathing, during sleep, you can steep some pieces of Indian gooseberry in hot water and then bring to a rolling boil. Strain and drink after it cools perhaps with a little Manuka honey to sweeten.

Similarly you can also grind the leaves of Indian gooseberry into a powder (or use Amla juice) and consume with some warm water or warm milk and perhaps a little honey.


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© 2012 Peter Geekie


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