Partner’s Snoring Driving You Nuts? Here’s What You Need to Know
From identifying triggers to finding effective treatments, this snoring primer could help you achieve the deep, restful sleep of your dreams.
What causes snoring?
An estimated 45 per cent of adults snore occasionally, and one in four are chronic snorers.
That buzz-saw sound is caused by loose, floppy tissues in your throat, tongue and palate vibrating and slapping together. Nasal congestion, being overweight, drugs, alcohol and a deviated septum can all compress the airway, making the vibrations stronger.
Watch out for sleep apnea
If your snoring is interrupted by bouts of total breathing obstruction, talk to your doctor. You may have sleep apnea, diagnosed in 6.4 per cent of Canadians. Sufferers are roused out of deep sleep as many as 300 times a night, experience chronic daytime drowsiness and are at risk for high blood pressure and heart problems.
Sleep apnea can be diagnosed by an otolaryngologist, who examines your mouth and throat for abnormalities, and a sleep study, requiring you to spend a night in a lab.
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Treatments for sleep apnea
The gold-standard treatment for sleep apnea is a continuous-positive-airway-pressure (CPAP) machine. A mask fits over your nose and mouth and blows air into your throat to keep your airways open at night. “The reality is that only about half of CPAP users stick with it, because it can be highly intrusive,” says Dr. Brian Rotenberg, an otolaryngologist and surgeon in London, Ontario.
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How to stop snoring
If you’re overweight, losing weight can lessen snoring. In one study, subjects who lost 10 per cent of their body weight saw their snoring drastically reduced afterwards.
Nasal strips open your nasal passages wider. But they won’t help if issues with your tongue, palate or throat are causing you to snore.
A do-it-yourself solution
Taping tennis balls onto the back of your pyjama shirt really does work, says Rotenberg. Your sleep position can worsen snoring. “Something that forces you to lie on your side can be effective.”
Over-the-counter mouth appliances
Many drugstore contraptions promise a quick, cheap fix, but buyer beware. Mouth appliances like SnoreRX or Zyppah work by pushing your lower jaw forward, opening your airway wider. “These can be effective if you belong to the low proportion of patients whose snoring is caused by the tongue,” says Rotenberg. “Most of the time, the issue is in your palate, and dental devices won’t help.”
Try a little music
You might also consider taking up a new hobby: the didgeridoo. A Swiss study found that consistently practising the Australian instrument strengthened the muscles in the throats of snorers and was an effective alternative to a CPAP machine.
Surgery (in extreme cases)
For example, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)—a real mouthful of a procedure—rearranges throat tissues to increase the size of your airway.
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Ultimately, snoring can be a stubborn condition to treat
“It can come from different areas of the mouth and throat,” says Rotenberg. Using an endoscope—a thin camera with a light—doctors can pinpoint where the vibrations are happening, helping doctors recommend effective treatments.
Now that you’ve got this advice on how to stop snoring under your belt, follow our sleep hygiene checklist for high-quality slumber.