Did you know that almost half of all men snore? It is often generally assumed that men are the snorers, but actually, around 25% of women snore too. A loud snore can significantly disrupt the sleep cycle of a partner, and the snorer can even be blissfully unaware that they are something of a noisy sleeping companion. But what does snoring say about your health? Why do some people snore and others don’t, and is this noise disturbance a cause for concern or just a benign annoyance for anyone in the vicinity?
Could it indicate serious health problems?
The answer is a actually mixed; for some people snoring is nothing more than a noise made during sleep, but it can be an indicator that something is wrong, and you should take this up with your doctor. One of the biggest causes for concern is a condition called sleep apnoea, which, once correctly diagnosed, is treatable. If you are sleeping alongside someone who has a loud snore that periodically goes completely silent for a few seconds and suddenly restarts with a loud snort before returning to the rhythmical rattle, then they must seek help.
Sleep apnoea is a condition where the patient briefly stops breathing, demonstrated by the short silent period of sleep. For these few seconds, there is no oxygen circulating, and it can lead to very disturbed nights, yet the sufferer often has no idea it is happening. What they experience is constantly feeling tired and struggling to stay away during the day. Being overweight is a risk factor, so losing some of this excess will be the first course of treatment alongside a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine, which forces air through a mask, worn all night to combat the effects. Left untreated, it could be fatal.
Other Medical Causes of Snoring
There are other medical reasons why someone is snoring, and some of these are temporary and need no intervention. For example, a woman in the later stages of pregnancy can be prone to snoring, and this will stop after the baby is born. Using certain medications such as sleeping pills and antihistamines also leave people more likely to snore. As mentioned, being overweight is a factor, and if you can lose weight, it will directly benefit you. Many people snore when they have a cold or nasal congestion, and again, once they recover, the snoring ceases.
Some people have an unusual bone structure in the face (that is not visible to others) or may have a large tongue compared to the size of their mouth. In this case, correction is more complicated or even impossible in some cases, but the support of the CPAP can help the sufferer achieve a better quality of rest. For those who have tonsil and adenoid issues, the surgical procedure to remove either of these is quite routine and could correct the snoring problem altogether.
Do Young or Healthy People Snore?
So, based on the above, it is entirely possible for a young or healthy person to snore, and there is nothing too troubling about it. However, if it is keeping a partner awake or causing sleep disturbance, it is worth getting yourself checked by a doctor. One of the most common diagnostic tools is a sleep study, where a patient spends the night in a hospital setting wired up to a heart and breathing monitor and often electrodes on the brain so the staff can monitor what happens when you are sleeping. This is an invaluable tool for picking up cases of sleep apnoea. With technology advancing, some hospitals can offer patients portable units so they can sleep at home. Many doctors believe this gives a better picture of what is happening because the patient is in familiar surroundings and more likely to sleep.
How Do You Know If You Snore?
So, what about the percentage of people who live alone? How would you know that you snore and potentially should be getting yourself checked out by a doctor? It seems strange that someone can snore loudly and not wake themselves up, but it is happening. However, the side effects you should be aware of that can alert you to a potential problem are very evident.
- Feeling tired all-day
- Waking with a headache
- Not feeling that you are rested
- Struggling to concentrate
- Noting pauses in your breathing when awake
- Sudden nocturnal waking
- Gaining weight
If you are experiencing these symptoms regularly, it’s time to seek help.
Self Help for Snorers
If you have been checked for severe health conditions caused by snoring, there are still things you can do to minimise the effects. Losing weight is a crucial issue, and when you head to bed, try and retrain yourself to sleep on your side. Back sleepers have a higher prevalence of snoring. There are also anti-snoring devices such as mouth guards, mouth patches and nose strips that can help to keep the airways open and allow more air to pass into the nostrils. Finally, if you feel your snoring is causing an issue, then avoid alcohol before bedtime.
Snoring is not always a medical concern, but that said, it should be investigated before you assume you are fine. It is often more of a problem for sleeping partners, and you should try and take steps to reduce the problem for their benefit. It may seem trivial, but relationships have broken-down irreparably because the partner could not get restful sleep and, because the snorer was not being disturbed, didn’t see the need to take action.
The biggest concern for someone who snores is sleep apnoea, which can cause high blood pressure and an enlarged heart if left untreated. This is a severe medical issue, but the treatment can be relatively simple. A CPAP machine is used every night to deliver a continuous airflow via a mask or nose clip, which should, in most cases, stop the snoring altogether. One thing is certain; snoring should always be checked out to rule out serious problems.