How often have we wanted to kill our partner in their sleep because they snore? No…this is not the reason why snoring is the not so silent killer. The reason why snoring is the not so silent killer because it has huge ramifications and consequences for our personal health
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is the sound that is produced when air does not move freely through the nose and mouth during sleep. When you sleep, your airway becomes relaxed, and the soft tissue in your throat vibrates. Your snoring becomes louder when your airways become narrow or more restricted or obstructed.
Often snoring is dismissed as a natural part of life and aging, with increasing frequency of snoring in people who are older and overweight. However, snoring is more than just a loud noise and shouldn’t be accepted as an ordinary part of life. It can actually be a sign of a more serious health problem.
People who snore are statistically more likely to:
- Feel tired and sleepy during the day
- Experience headaches in the morning
- Struggle to concentrate and difficulty remembering things
- Perform more poorly at work
- Gain weight unexpectedly
Children who snore are statistically more likely to:
- Have mild symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention at school
- Have behavioural problems
- Be Diagnosed with ADHD
- Have crooked teeth and incorrect facial development
- Have increased frequency of ear infections
These side effects can have a very real and disturbing effect on a snorer’s daily life – more than just keeping your partner awake at night.
What Causes Snoring?
There are lots of different causes of snoring. These include:
- Deviated Septum (crooked nose)
- Swollen adenoids and tonsils
- Sinus issues
- Nasal congestion caused by allergies or a cold
- Sleeping on your back
- Alcohol and drug use
- Obstructive sleep apnoea – Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious condition associated with stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. Untreated snoring is highly likely to progress to OSA.
- Hormonal changes
It’s quite common for pregnancy hormones to result in congestion, causing snoring in pregnant women. Pregnant women will also experience pressure on their diaphragm as their baby gets bigger, which can also result in breathing challenges. It has been shown snoring in women has been associated with increased hypertension and even growth retardation of the baby1
Furthermore, women who have gone through menopause have lower levels of oestrogen, which causes softer muscles, and may be more susceptible to snoring. It has also been shown that snoring is a high-risk factor for cardiovascular disease in women2 and it can also lead to a faster progression in cardiovascular disease3
The importance of treating snoring
Sleep is so important to our personal health and general wellbeing. Getting good quality sleep is an essential component of a healthy body and mind and snoring causes constant interruptions to sleep.
Sleep is important for the following reasons:
- Rest and recovery
- Cell regeneration
- Improving Memory
- Hightened Immune system
- Restoring Energy
- Regulation of hormones
When you aren’t getting the quality or quantity of sleep you need to function, it makes it more difficult to get through and perform at your best each day.
How Is Snoring Treated?
It may surprise you to know that your dental practitioner may be the best person to help you treat snoring. Dentists are trained to always screen and examine the airways for any physical obstructions that may impact or exacerbate a patient’s snoring. Many dentists also offer a range of treatment options to help reduce snoring and the effects it has on a patient’s overall health and wellbeing.
The most common dental treatment to help reduce snoring is the Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS). The MAS is a dual piece mouthguard which is worn at night time that aims to posture the lower jaw forward. This helps pull the tongue and throat forward ever-so-slightly to help open up the airway and prevent soft tissues at the back of the throat from vibrating, thus reducing and snoring. It also has the added benefit of protecting the teeth from grinding and clenching, both of which are commonly attributed to patient’s who snore.
Apart from dental appliances to help with snoring, other ways to combat snoring include:
Consider losing weight
Shedding extra weight poses a number of health benefits. One of the most important benefits of losing weight is the reduction in fat that builds up around the airways which play a role in reducing the airway space during sleep. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also improve your quality of sleep.
Stop sleeping on your back
Side sleeping has been shown to reduce snoring as it helps avoid tissues at the back of the throat to collapse
Physical and physiological obstructions of the nose also impact on snoring. It’s important to make sure your nose is clear every night so that it is easier to breathe through. This could mean avoiding alcohol, dairy or tobacco products before bed, or using a nasal spray.
1. Franklin, K. A., Holmgren, P. A., Jönsson, F., Poromaa, N., Stenlund, H., & Svanborg, E. (2000). Snoring, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and growth retardation of the fetus. Chest, 117(1), 137–141.
2. Hu, F. B., Willett, W. C., Manson, J. E., Colditz, G. A., Rimm, E. B., Speizer, F. E., Hennekens, C. H., & Stampfer, M. J. (2000). Snoring and risk of cardiovascular disease in women. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 35(2), 308–313.
3. Leineweber, C., Kecklund, G., Janszky, I., Akerstedt, T., & Orth-Gomér, K. (2004). Snoring and progression of coronary artery disease: The Stockholm Female Coronary Angiography Study. Sleep