Why you need to take snoring seriously
Everyone knows someone who snores.
Partners grumble about it, families joke about it and holidaymakers take earplugs to get away from it. But snoring is more than a little inconvenience. It can be the symptom of a more serious health condition and actually threaten your life.
What is it?
Snoring is caused by the muscles relaxing in your nose; throat and mouth that then vibrate to cause the sound. When you are awake, your breathing is controlled by your cortex that usually demands tighter muscles and more open airways. But when you are asleep, so is your cortex. The control centre in your brain stem is active instead: hence the relaxed muscles.
Whilst this explains how snoring happens, it does not explain why. So, we have rounded up 5 of the most common scenarios and their solutions.
Cause 1: Lifestyle
Getting drunk or regularly going to sleep exhausted is a great way to cause snoring as your airways are even more relaxed than normal. You are also more likely to end up on your back (the prime snoring position!) without noticing as you are sleeping too deeply to be roused by the discomfort.
Cause 2: Your pillow
The wrong neck position can also obstruct the airways and may cause you to snore. Memory pillows are particularly bad for this, as people don't always buy the right one for their build and weight, ending up with one that's too high or not soft enough. At the opposite end are old, synthetic pillows that have no support left (they should be replaced every two years). Try out a few different pillow types and sizes, to find the best one for you.
Cause 3: Colds & Flu
Everyone remembers the misery of trying to sleep with a blocked nose. Fortunately,paracetamolcan help with the symptoms, backed up by a drop of Eucalyptus oil (it's found in Vicksvapourrub and Olbus oil). It's also one of the best times to banish your other half to the guest room, to cut the chance of catching your cold.
Cause 4: Weight
Excess weight creeps everywhere, including the tissues around the throat. Shedding as little as half a stone can help with snoring and lead to a better quality of sleep overall.
Cause 5: Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
If you have ruled out all of the other causes, but you still snore, you may have OSA. The muscles in your throat literally collapse, causing a partial blockage. This leads to snoring, gasping and interrupted breathing that causes you to wake up, so your normal muscle control takes over. To make matters worse, you may not even be aware of these micro-wakings, leaving you tired and irritable during the day. Sleep-deprivation also lowers your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to colds and even worse breathing problems. You are also more likely to suffer high blood pressure or a heart attack and you are 12 times more like to have a car accident, because of OSA.* By visiting your doctor about your snoring, you can literally save your life.