Given that more than 90 million people are affected by snoring, the odds are better than even money that they live in your house, and sleep in your bed (while you don’t… sleep that is)!
Over time, it can become an issue that spills over into other issues. He quickly learned first-hand that snoring and consistent sleep deprivation, causing fatigue, mixed with annoyance, and compounded by resentment, kills intimacy. Not just at night, but all day long!
In and of itself, snoring can merely be a bothersome nuisance, or it can be part of a much more serious, even life-threatening, condition (sleep apnea). An estimated 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea, but an incredible 80% of those don’t even know that they have it!
So first and foremost, if you are snoring, best to get checked out right away by your doctor to confirm that you don’t have something more serious going on. Sleep apnea can be a silent killer!
All you need to do is spend a little time with Dr. Google and you’ll find staggering numbers like these:
• 20 – 30% of women snore regularly
• 40 – 50% of men snore regularly
• 59% of people have a partner that snores
• 28% of people who snore also have sleep apnea (and most don’t know it)
• 37% claim to be so sleepy each day that it interferes with their daily activities
• 39% of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight
• 12% of married couples sleep alone
• Snoring is estimated to be the third cause of divorce in the United States and Great Britain
• Snoring contributes to 28% of breakups
• Snoring is linked to diabetes
• Snoring is linked to heart disease
• Obesity is a risk factor that leads to snoring
• The risk and prevalence of snoring increases with age
• Snoring is one of the main causes of sleep deprivation, and every year 100,000 traffic accidents are caused by sleep deprivation (drowsy driving)
• Sleep deprivation is a main cause of many workplace and in-home accidents
• Snoring and insulin resistance are linked: those who snore are 80% more likely to be insulin resistant, which is a precursor to diabetes
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SNORE
It’s pretty simple. Snoring occurs when a part of your airways, either in your nose or throat, closes down and you can’t move air freely as you sleep. This restriction causes the walls of the airway to vibrate as you breathe in and out. That vibration causes the sound we recognize as snoring. If you snore consistently, over time, the vibration can stretch out the tissues lining the airways, causing them to become loose, which allows them to vibrate even more. That makes snoring worse. In this sense, snoring can be a degenerative process, becoming progressively louder over time.
SNORING RISK FACTORS
The following is a quick list of items that may increase either the incidence or severity of snoring:
• Being male increases your risk of snoring 3.5x
• Dry air – low humidity, forced air heat, hotel rooms can be very dry, commercial airplanes (which maintain low humidity in passenger cabins)
• Alcohol intake
• Various medications
• Smoking, as it increases airway inflammation
• Weight gain or obesity
• Nasal congestion (from colds, allergies, or inflammation)
FIXES AND REMEDIES: GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY
If you snore, you need to see a doctor to be evaluated, as you may have sleep apnea or some other more serious condition. From an educational standpoint, here are some of the snoring solutions you may, or may not have heard of.
The Common-Sense Approach:
It’s always wise to try the “low-hanging fruit” first. The old adage “sleep on your side” may help in some cases, but according to the research, side posture sleeping is not a reliable way to get someone to stop snoring. Nonetheless, it’s worth a shot. You can try pillow barriers to limit rolling or a nudge here and there to get them on their side. Good luck!
Humidifiers, especially if you have forced air heat, keep airways moist which may help. If you are overweight, exercise and weight loss can help. Drink less alcohol or at least don’t drink at night (as much or at all). Stop smoking. If you have chronic nasal congestion get that treated to decrease inflammation and help keep nasal passages open.
CPAP units are not prescribed for simple snoring, but rather for sleep apnea, of which snoring is a major component. Typically, this machine will only be covered by insurance when sleep apnea is diagnosed. That said, CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure” meaning that the machine mask, which goes over the mouth and nose, pumps in air pressure which keeps airways open, eliminating the vibration and snoring. Depending, these machines can go for anywhere from about $600 – $3,000. For snoring alone, without being diagnosed with sleep apnea, you cannot get a CPAP machine (in the U.S. anyway).
Surgical treatment for snoring falls into two broad categories. The more traditional uvulopalatopharyngoplasty involves the nose, throat, and mouth. It can have an average cost of just over $10,000. Another approach to reduce snoring is an outpatient laser surgery called somnoplasty. It removes or stiffens tissues of the uvula and soft palate. It is reported to be anywhere from 50-75% effective at reducing, if not eliminating, snoring. The three to four hour procedure is typically not covered by health insurance, as it is considered “elective” or “cosmetic” because snoring alone is not a medical condition. If the snoring component was being treated as part of sleep apnea, it may likely be covered. Costs for this procedure typically are in the $3,000 – $4,000 range.
There are a host of anti-snore products on the market that can work to various degrees, assuming the user is 100% compliant, which is not always as easy as it sounds.
Most of the appliance type devices, namely head/chin straps and mouthpieces, are based on the principle of mechanically shifting and maintaining your mandible (jaw) and tongue in a forward position while you sleep. This can help open the airway in the back of your throat. Head/chin straps can start under $10 and mouthpieces can range from $30 – $100 dollars. Both can be found in your local drug store under various brand names (literally dozens). My friend tried a few of these devices at different times, for months, because in some cases they can reduce or eliminate snoring. He said that both the chin strap and the mouth pieces did reduce his snoring, but he couldn’t use any of these devices very long because of jaw/TMJ pain. In addition, he told me that his bite took a while to realign in the morning and that he kept biting his cheek. According to many of the reviews I’ve read online, long term compliance difficulties were not uncommon due to the same issues he experienced.
He also tried various nasal strips (available in your local drug store), which helped make it easier to breathe through his nose. Unfortunately, in his case, the snoring was coming from the back of his nose/throat, so it didn’t help. There are also products that vent the nasal passages open by inserting a device in your nostrils (again too many brands to list). If you have nasal congestion, either of these types of products may help, or at least help minimize mouth breathing, which we know can increase snoring. Similarly, various sinus saline rinses, or use of a neti pot to flush out nasal passages, may help relieve temporary nasal congestion, especially during allergy seasons.
The various anti-snore pillows, some of which are quite sophisticated with sensors and electronic control, are designed to maintain head/neck to body alignment to help keep airways open. If you try putting your chin down and swallowing, you can feel that the throat becomes constricted, for instance. Pillows also elevate the head and shoulders putting less gravitational force on the tongue to slide back, closing the back of the throat. You can log some internet search time on these products, as neither I, nor my friend, has tried them, but studies on positional changes to eliminate snoring have not been overly strong.
During his trial and error process to cure his snoring, my friend heard about a simple nasal spray called Zz Snore. I mention a brand name here because it is new to the U.S. and is not yet available at your local drug store. Zz Snore is new to the U.S., but there is a European brand, of the same product, that has been a top-selling anti-snore solution for over twenty years. This product simply lubricates the airways. Lubricated airways have less vibration and friction, thereby eliminating snoring. Pretty low-tech and simple, but according to the clinical trial performed in Europe, it gave results in about 70% of users. The small bottle has a pump which delivers a rain-drop size droplet of the lubricating liquid to the back of the nasal passages, which also coats the throat. I asked him about any aftertaste and he said no. He tried it and, for him, it worked.
If you think this article was helpful, don’t be shy about sharing it with a friend. After all, statistics say that 90 million people snore! Stay in great health always and get a good night’s sleep tonight!
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