Snoring is more than just an irritating habit, and if you or your partner regularly snore, it’s about time that you tackle this health problem. More than 40% of us snore, with the incidence being higher in men due to physical differences. Snoring is caused by a thickening of the nasal and throat passages that obstruct the passage of air.
There is also a sleep condition called sleep apnea. During this, the sufferer will experience a collapse in the airway passages, thus causing a cessation of breathing for seconds at a time. The person will then gasp for air several times during the night, making a startling choking sound which may be distressing for the partner too. It can also lead to an increase in incidence of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.
Both conditions can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness which may lead to motor accidents or accidents on the job. People who snore or suffer from sleep apnea also tend to feel more irritable and have a decreased memory. Men can sometimes also experience impotence due to these sleep disturbances.
The good news is that there are ways to tackle with these problems.
Sleep sideways – The airway passages are less likely to collapse on themselves with this adjustment.
Lose weight – If you are overweight, this is reflected in your neck muscles which may make the airway passages narrower. Toning muscles in the upper body through exercise will also tone the neck muscles, decreasing the chance of the airways narrowing.
Establish regular sleep patterns – This means that you’re not overtired once you get into bed, and so your muscles won’t ‘flop’. This will therefore decrease airway space.
Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and sedatives before bedtime – These will disturb your sleep.
Avoid caffeine and heavy meals at least 2 hours before bedtime – To improve sleep.
Clear your nasal passages – Consider a neti pot, decongestant spray or a saline wash.
Adjust your pillow height – Raising your pillow will place you in a better position to have open airways.
Stay hydrated – Maintaining hydrated airways encourages a smoothness in the muscles, which will aid airway flow.
Following these lifestyle changes may be enough to eliminate your snoring problem. If these lifestyle changes are not successful, there are also medical devices that can also help. Remember to consult a healthcare professional if you’re having problems with snoring that are not fixed with these adjustments.