Is snoring bad for you? What are the dangers and what can be done to improve your sleep.

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Is snoring bad for you? What are the dangers and what can be done to improve your sleep.

Is snoring bad for you?

Key points:

  • Snoring can occur due to age and could be a sign of an underlying health condition you should consider investigating

  • Snoring can have a social impact on you if your snoring prevents partners from sleeping near you

  • There are two main treatment options for chronic snoring that will often be recommended by specialists

When you want a good nights rest, the last thing you want to hear is the loud snoring of your partner.

However, snoring can be quite common, with about 20 percent of the population snoring at night.

While the condition is more common in men, women can experience snoring too.

Additionally, snoring can get worse with age, as decreased muscle tone in your body could result in your airways not being able to stay open while you sleep.   

Despite how common it is, snoring can have a varied impact on different people and these loud sounds shouldn't be ignored.

What's so bad about snoring?

Severe snoring can also be an indication you have other underlying health issues that could be impacting your health such as obstructive sleep apnoea.

Researchers have even suggested obstructive sleep apnoea could put you at higher risk of developing other health conditions such as dementia, diabetes, or heart attacks. 

Snoring is when a part of your throat, called the pharynx, vibrates while you are asleep. 

Positioned just behind your tongue, several small muscles hold the pharynx open while you are awake but when you sleep, these muscles relax. When relaxed, the pharynx becomes narrower and vibrates easier, contributing to how loud you snore.

Since muscle tone is lost on our bodies as we age, getting older can be a factor in snoring.

If you notice you are not having great sleeps or your partner says your snoring is becoming very loud, you should see a doctor. 

Lifestyle factors can make an impact

There are a few factors that can cause you to snore at varying levels of intensity, including some lifestyle factors and habits.

If you were born with a smaller-than-normal airway or are suffering from a cold, you are more than likely going to snore - but other factors can increase your likelihood of snoring. 

These include: 

  • Sinus or allergy issues

  • Sleeping on your back

  • Breathing through your mouth

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Smoking cigarettes

  • Drinking alcohol

  • Taking some medicines

Effects of snoring

Snoring itself does not pose any harmful health risks and can be left untreated with no ill effects, but sometimes there are underlying reasons for your snoring which can impact your overall health. 

You can snore so loudly that you constantly wake yourself during the night, which can lead to long-term sleep deprivation and fatigue. 

Snoring has also been known to put a strain on a relationship with your partner or family if your snoring regularly wakes them up or keeps them awake.

In some cases, snoring can indicate you have obstructive sleep apnoea or other sleep disorders. 

Obstructive sleep apnoea occurs when the walls of the throat come together during sleep and blocks the airway between the voice box and the back of the nose. After a few seconds, the sleeper makes a strong breathing effort and restarts breathing, which can cause you to wake up hundreds of times every night, sometimes choking or gasping for breath. You may not even be aware that you are waking multiple times a night.

We know that sleep is very important for older people, if you aren’t getting enough sleep you may find it hard to perform everyday activities, concentrate or be motivated to do things.

Treatment options

If you are concerned about your snoring, you are keeping your partner or household awake, or are waking up choking or gasping, you should speak to your doctor to refer you to a sleep disorder clinic. 

In some cases, your doctor or a sleep disorder clinic may recommend an overnight sleep study to check what is causing you to snore.

Losing weight and cutting back on alcohol tends to reduce the severity of snoring, if not cure it altogether, but some other tips include:

  • Avoiding sleeping tablets

  • Sleeping on your side rather than your back

  • Treating nasal congestion or allergies to clear your airways

  • Making sure the air in your bedroom is neither too dry nor too humid

  • Addressing other health conditions

If your snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnoea, you may need to consider using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine -  a device that blows air into your nose or mouth through a mask while you are sleeping. 

A CPAP machine is considered the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and has different mask options that can cover your nose, mouth, or nose and mouth. 

If a CPAP machine isn’t for you, a mandibular advancement splint (MAS) may be a better option. 

A MAS is a dental therapy device similar to a mouth guard which can reduce snoring if it is worn properly. 

If your snoring is extreme, surgery might be considered but it is not seen as a permanent cure and the results are not guaranteed. The main method recommended by experts is a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). UPPP is when your tonsils are taken out and your soft palate reshaped. This operation is performed under anaesthetic and requires a hospital stay.

You should discuss how invasive these surgeries may be with your doctor or sleep specialist, as your recovery journey may be a painful and inconvenient one.

If your snoring is in relation to other health conditions you live with, proper management of these chronic conditions can assist with your current snoring and sleep.

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