Snoring might seem to be relatively minor thing, or even something to joke about, but its effects can be significant. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing.
If you’re a snorer, chances are that your spouse and other family members are well aware of the problem. Your bed partner can lose hours of sleep, or end up sleeping in a separate bedroom. Snoring has been shown to be a leading cause of relationship strain and breakdown. As the snorer, you can also lose sleep yourself if the snoring is so loud it wakes you up.
And also, although it may not be obvious, inadequate oxygen and sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, Type II diabetes, and obesity. Snoring may also be an indicator of existing or future sleep apnoea, which is a potentially life-threatening condition.
Children also suffer from chronic snoring and this can significantly affect their learning, behaviour and growth.
SNORING & SLEEP APNOEA
Image: Snoring - The airway is partially blocked
What actually causes snoring in adults?
Snoring is the result of the upper airway becoming partially blocked by the soft tissues, resulting in turbulent and noisy airflow. During sleep the soft tissues naturally become relaxed and hang lower, but this is exacerbated by:
Issues with the anatomy of the jaw, nose and throat
Excessive alcohol or eating too much at night
Untreated allergies and nasal congestion
Excess body weight, which causes bulky throat tissue
Inflammation and swelling of the airways due to smoking
Loss of muscle tone through ageing
Sleeping position – sleeping on your back normally makes snoring worse.
Snoring in Children
We regularly see children affected by snoring, where the main causes of snoring are:
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
Blocked nose caused by untreated allergies
Breathing problems associated with issues of the jaw, nose and throat.
Is it Sleep Apnoea?
This is a very important question to ask. Some snorers (including children) also suffer from sleep apnoea, where they stop breathing completely for periods of 10 seconds or more. This is normally associated with gurgling, gasping or choking when they wake at the end of the apnoea period; your sleeping partner might have noticed this.
People with sleep apnoea often have significant problems with daytime sleepiness and loss of focus, and untreated it can cause major health issues. If you think you may suffer from sleep apnoea our dentists will explain our holistic and integrative approach.
Treatment Approach For Snoring - An Overview
Correct diagnosis is essential
It is important that a proper diagnosis is carried out. Our dentists will examine your mouth and airways and assess your symptoms to establish the underlying cause of your snoring. Then we discuss your treatment options with you.
Many people find that losing weight, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking reduces or even eliminates their snoring. These are healthy things to do anyway, and as your quality of sleep improves your body will thank you! Also, if you normally sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side, using a couple of pillows to stop you rolling onto your back.
Dealing with physical obstructions
If there are untreated allergies causing nasal congestion, issues with enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or dysfunctional breathing, these will need to be addressed for a long-term solution.
Depending on the underlying cause, an oral splint, called a Mandibular Advancement Splint or MAS, can be used to bring the lower jaw forward and keep the airway open as your sleep. Our dentists will explain more about how the appliance works and our diagnosis approach which also looks at other factors such as allergies and nasal congestion.
Snoring – and the loss of sleep it causes – can steal your health and happiness, as well as being embarrassing.