IT IS estimated that approximately 20% of the population snores at night.
Snoring isn't physically harmful to the person who snores, but it is highly irritating to anyone kept awake by the noise.
Actually, highly irritating is probably an understatement.
In some cases, snoring even leads to relationship breakdown as one partner's patience gives out.
More men snore than women, with about one quarter of males prone to snoring.
During sleep, the muscles of the soft palate and uvula (the structures found in the back of the throat) tend to relax and vibrate when the person breathes.
This happens both when breathing through the nose or the open mouth.
This relaxed tissue vibrates as air moves back and forth across it, making the characteristic noise.
Snoring isn't harmful and can be left untreated with no ill effects, although sometimes a person can snore so loudly that they constantly wake themselves during the night and this can lead to long-term sleep deprivation and fatigue.
Their partner, of course, also suffers.
In some cases, however, snoring is part of obstructive sleep apnoea.
This occurs when the walls of the throat come together during sleep and block the airway between the voice box and the back of the nose.
In the long term, sleep apnoea can be dangerous for your health because it is linked to an increased risk of diseases including stroke.
Surgery might be considered in extreme cases of snoring.
However, there is always a chance that surgery might only work for a short time or not at all.
The typical snorer
- Snoring is more likely when you have a cold, sinusitis or some other reason for a stuffy nose.
- Snoring is more common when you sleep on your back.
- Habitual night-time snorers, however, tend to share certain characteristics.
The typical snorer is:
- Aged between 30 and 65 years
- May have high blood pressure
- May be told that snoring is worse with alcohol and with a cold
Simple remedies for snoring
- Lose weight and cut back on alcohol. This tends to reduce the severity of snoring, if not cure it altogether.
- Avoid sleeping tablets.
- Sleep on your side rather than your back.
- Treat nasal congestion.
- Make sure the air in the bedroom is neither too dry nor too humid.
- Avoid alcohol in the hours before bedtime.
- Wear an oral appliance or mandibular advancement splint. This is a dental therapy device similar to a mouth guard, which, if fitted properly, can reduce snoring.
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