By Fidelia Asogwa
Recently, one of my friends who newly got married called me. From the tone of her voice I noticed all was not well. I then asked what the problem was thinking it could be a marital issue, but to my utmost surprise she said there was no issue between her and her husband but that she was contemplating abandoning her marriage because of snoring.
Snoring! I shouted back over the phone. But she was serious that her husband’s snoring attitude was unbearable.
I had to counsel her not to quit her marriage because of snoring but to cooperate with her husband to find solution.
But come to think of it, what are the causes of snoring?
Here are some of the causes:
- Age: As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower naturally and the muscle tone in your throat decreases thereby increasing the tendency to snore.
- The way you are built: Naturally, men have narrower air passages than women and therefore have higher tendency to snore more. Also a narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids(lymphatic tissues) and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. In this case, snoring can also be inherited from parents.
- Being overweight: Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring.
- Alcohol, smoking, and medication: Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications can increase muscles relaxation leading to more snoring.
- Sleep posture: Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.
- Nasal and sinus problems: Blocked airways make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat leading to snoring.
- An underlying illness such as chronic bronchitis.
Health risks associated with snoring
- Strain on the heart: Prolonged suffering from obstructive sleep often results in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
- Poor night sleep: This leads to drowsiness during the day and can interfere with your quality of life.
- Low oxygen levels in the blood: This leads to constricted blood vessels in the lungs and eventual pulmonary hypertension . Others are Chronic headaches, obesity, daytime sleepiness and fatigue , frequent waking up from sleep, long interruptions of breathing, etc.
- It is important to know that snoring happens when you cannot move air freely through your nose and mouth during sleep, often caused by the narrowing of your airway, either from poor sleep posture or abnormalities of the soft tissues in your throat. A narrow airway gets in the way of smooth breathing and creates the sound of snoring.
- You should also know that snoring could indicate sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires medical attention. Sleep apnea is a breathing obstruction, causing the sleeper to keep waking up to begin breathing again. Normal snoring does not interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea, so if you are suffering from extreme fatigue and sleeping during the day, your problem may be more than just snoring.
- Don’t let snoring damage your relationship. Is snoring a rift in your marital relationship? No matter how much you love each other, the loss of sleep from frequent snoring can strain a relationship as well as put your partner’s health at risk.
When snoring becomes a problem, relationship tension can grow in the following ways:
- Sleeping alone: If you or your partner snores, one of the easiest solutions is for you to sleep apart in different rooms. This often results in a lack of needed physical intimacy, straining the relationship. And if you are the one snoring, you might feel lonely, isolated, and frustrated about something you feel you have no control over. But you should not allow such strain to happen in relationship by sleeping alone. Sleeping alone cannot be the solution to this problem instead; it could even bring about another problem.
- Stop concentrating your mind on it as a big issue and stick to your partner. Do not attack your partner but find way to attack the snoring problem.
- Partner resentment: When a non-snorer feels he or she has done everything possible to sleep through the night (ear plugs, noise machines, etc) but his or her partner does nothing to combat his or her own snoring, it can lead to resentment. Working as a team to find a solution can prevent resentments or future fights.
If you value your relationship, make it your priority to find a snoring cure so you can both sleep soundly. Working together to stop snoring can even be an opportunity to improve the quality of your bond and become more deeply connected.
In trying to communicate with a snoring partner, it is important you:
- Time your talk carefully: Avoid middle of the night or early morning discussions when you are feeling exhausted or angry over your partner’s snoring attitude.
- Keep in mind it’s not intentional: Although it is easy to feel like a victim when you lose sleep, remember that your partner is not keeping you awake on purpose and so you do not attack him.
- Avoid lashing out: Sure, sleep deprivation is aggravating and can be damaging to your health, but try your best to approach the problem in a non-confrontational way.
- Beware of bitterness: Make sure that your bitterness over your partner’s snoring attitude is not an outlet for other hidden resentment you are harbouring overtime. Be sure you do not outburst your emotion and behave abnormal towards your partner at this period.
- Use humour and playfulness to bring up the subject of snoring without hurting your partner’s feeling. Laughing about it can ease tension while you both discuss on what to do to solve the problem.
How you snore reveals why you snore
- It is crucial to note the different ways you sleep and snore. Sleep positions reveal a lot, and figuring out how you snore can reveal why you snore. When you know why you snore, you can get closer to a cure.
- Closed-mouth snoring may indicate a problem with your throat.
- Open-mouth snoring may be related to the tissues in your throat.
- Snoring when sleeping on your back is probably mild snoring. Improved sleep habits and lifestyle changes may be an effective cure for this.
- Snoring in all sleep positions can mean your snoring is more severe and may need a more comprehensive treatment.
Self-helping cures to stop snoring
- There are many things you can do on your own to help stop snoring. Home remedies and lifestyle changes can go a long way in resolving the problem. Here are some of them:
- Change your sleep position: lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. And so sleeping on your side is recommended to help prevent snoring. If you find it difficult to sleep on your side, you can use cellotape to hold tennis balls to the back of your pajamas or night wear before going to bed. This is to prevent you from sleeping on your back. This works because each time you turn to sleep on your back, the tennis balls will inconvenience you thereby helping you to maintain sleeping on your side to prevent snoring
- Lose weight: Greater number of overweight people snore. So losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring entirely.
- Exercise: Exercise can also help to stop snoring. Working out to tone your arms, legs for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn reduces snoring.
- Quit Smoking: If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking causes airways to be blocked by irritating the membranes in the nose and throat.
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives, especially before bedtime, because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you are taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse.
Bedtime remedies to help you stop snoring.
- Clear nasal passages: Having a stuffy nose makes inhalation difficult and creates a vacuum in your throat, which in turn leads to snoring. You can use nasal decongestants or nasal strips to help you breathe more easily while sleeping.
- Reposition: Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specially designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
- Avoid caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed, especially dairy products and soya milk.
When to see a doctor about snoring
Snoring can sometimes be a warning signal of a more serious problem. A doctor should evaluate a snorer for any underlying medical conditions, other sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea, or any sleep related breathing problems. Seek medical attention if you notice any of the following red flags:
- You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.
- You stop breathing, gasps, or choke during sleep.
- You fall asleep at inappropriate times such as during conversation or a meal.
Before seeking medical remedy for snoring, you must establish that there are no underlying diseases causing the snoring problem.