It’s the thing that stops us sleeping at night. It wakes us up in the early hours and stops us from sleeping by our partner’s side. When dozing off on public transport it is a source of embarrassment; at home it is the cause of many a ridiculous argument. So why, when our heads hit the pillow after a hard day’s work, are so many of us snoring loudly enough to wake the neighbours across the street?
Here, Ian Myles Black, ENT Consultant and snoring expert at The Private Clinic on Harley Street, provides us with some useful facts to help stop those dreaded snores to mark National Stop Snoring Week this week.
1) Don’t worry, it is normal!
Snoring affects around a quarter of the UK population so if you’re a snorer, fear not, you are not alone!
2) Bad habits do you no favours
Smoking and drinking alcohol can make the condition worse. While smoking causes mucus to form, which will make breathing more difficult, alcohol is a relaxant that can cause the muscles in the throat to relax, in turn causing the airways to narrow. Doing either, particularly before you go to bed, will make you more likely to snore.
3) The cause could be lurking in your bed sheets
Dust particles can be a major irritant for the nasal passage and can cause the body to create a barrier of mucus which blocks the nasal passage and stop the particles from entering the nose. While this might be manageable while we’re awake, when we’re asleep our only option is to breathe through our mouths. This, in turn, makes us more likely to snore. The solution? Change your bed sheets regularly and get the hoover out on a regular basis.
4) The Friday night curry could be the culprit!
Eating spicy food can lead to acid reflux. Avoid eating curries or chilli, particularly in the evenings, and you may notice an improvement in your snoring.
5) Sleeping habits….consider a new one
Get out of the habit of sleeping with two pillows. Opt for just one pillow which is the correct size and not too soft. A firmer, smaller pillow will give you a more peaceful night’s sleep and will reduce the likelihood that you will snore.
6) Sleep sideways
Sleeping on your back increases the likelihood that you will snore. Try wedging pillows or a blanket around you before you go to sleep to make it more difficult for you to roll onto your back. You’ll soon get into a pattern of keeping to your side.
7) Hitting the gym could help more than just your waistline
If you are even a little over weight, shedding a few pounds could be key to reducing the amount you snore. Excess weight often gathers around the throat which, even in small amounts, can contribute to restricting the airway. Hit the gym, shift that excess couple of pounds and not only will you look better, but you’ll sound better too!
8) We are all different ‘types’
Snorers fall into one of four categories, which relate to the cause of the condition. It is possible to be a nose, throat, palate or combination snorer. The important thing is to determine what ‘kind’ of snorer you are, something which an ENT specialist will be able to tell you. From here you will have a better idea of how to treat the problem.
9) Just to be on the safe side…
If you do snore, it is important to rule out sleep apnoea – a more serious health condition. Sleep apnoea sufferers stop breathing for brief periods while they are asleep (usually between 10 and 20 seconds). Loud snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea so it is always best to go to your GP, who can refer you to an ENT specialist, just to be on the safe side.
10) Help is at hand
Nowadays, snoring can be cured by a simple non-invasive laser treatment. The laser has the effect of clearing the airways in the throat or opening the nasal passage (depending on what the cause of your snoring is). The treatment takes around 30 minutes and is available at The Private Clinic on Harley Street (clinics nationwide). Prices start at around £1,280.