By Faiz Kermani, Ph.D.
Throughout history, millions of people have been affected by snoring. Even now, four out of five households contain at least one snorer. Despite this, few people will ever admit to the problem – and even fewer will do anything about it!
What is snoring?
Snoring is a breathing noise that occurs during sleep and happens when the breathing is intermittently blocked. The source of the noise is a vibration of throat tissues. The loudness of the snore depends on the amount of air breathed in and how fast the throat tissues vibrate. In most cases snoring does not cause any real health problems, but it does stop people getting the deep sleep they need. Contrary to popular belief snorers do not sleep well as they keep drifting in and out of sleep, without realising. This can mean that during the day they feel tired and irritable.
Unfortunately, for some people chronic snoring can be a symptom of a potential health problem, called sleep apnea. Sleep apneas occur when the breathing is blocked at least ten times an hour during sleep. This condition can reduce the levels of oxygen in the blood during sleep and can lead to high blood pressure. Therefore it is important for people will sleep apnea to get proper therapy from their doctor.
Sleep apnea: interrupted breathing while sleeping. Source: Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (under the section Breathing Problems) http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/topics/obesity/calltoaction/fact_consequences.htm
What can I do?
All people snore, but recent studies have found that snoring is almost twice as common in men than women. Fortunately, a few changes in lifestyle can help eliminate snoring from your house. In fact, trying to convince the snorer may be the hardest part of tackling the problem.
You will need to be careful how you say it, but here’s some advice you could try giving them:
- Lose weight – reducing your weight will reduce the amount of fat in the throat. This will provide a clearer airway.
- Sleep on your side – sleeping on your side improves breathing through your nose.
- Stop smoking – smoking is often associated with nasal congestion.
- Avoid alcohol before you go to sleep – alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat which can increase snoring.
- Consult your doctor – your doctor will be able to advise you on other methods of eliminating snoring. There are many products that claim to prevent snoring – some work and others do not. You should check with your doctor before trying them.
The loudest recorded snore was comparable with a lawnmower, so before snoring reaches this level in your house, it is worth taking action. As the writer Anthony Burgess once said,” Laugh and the world laughs with you; snore and you sleep alone.”
The loudest recorded snore was alleged to be in the Guiness Book of Records, but we cannot find it on their website – it’s just referred to in other articles
Resources You May Find Helpful
- The American Sleep Apnea Association http://www.sleepapnea.org/
- British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association http://www.britishsnoring.co.uk/
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center http://snoring.upmc.com/
- Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute http://www.sleepohio.com/sleep_disorders.asp
- Snoring ‘could run in families’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4897224.stm