MAKE IT STOP!
Is snoring making your life hell? Here’s why it’s bad for your relationship and your health – and what you can do about it
SNORING is a common problem that can have devastating effects. It can cause irritability and fatigue, and the collapse of marriages and serious health problems. It can even be life-threatening. In this extract from Stop Snoring . . . the Easy Way and the Real Reasons You Need To, Dr Mike Dilkes and Alexander Adams explore the risk factors associated with snoring and offer a blueprint for good sleep hygiene and a workout to help you have a peaceful night. So limber up your jaw and tongue and get ready to tackle the problem once and for all.
ACOMMON assumption is that snoring is the pastime of men, and while they account for the majority of snorers worldwide, a whopping 20% of women are also severe snorers. The stigma attached is in general far worse for women. So snoring can be a sensitive topic and in many social situations is out of bounds when it comes to poking fun.
Snoring, by its medical definition, is called stertor. This means noisy breathing and it happens while we’re asleep because that’s when the airway collapses and becomes partially blocked.
The noise is produced by a reduction in muscle tone causing structures in the throat to start to flap – like a sail or flag flapping when the wind reaches a certain speed.
Even mild snoring can result in a prolonged nocturnal breathing disorder, which has significant effects on both body and mind.
While surgery and ventilation aids have a real place in the treatment of snoring, they are extreme steps, especially if simple but effective measures haven’t been tried.
IT CAN LEAD TO BURNOUT
On average the partner of a snorer loses 90 minutes of sleep per night. If you’re the one snoring you’re losing restorative sleep, which is incredibly dangerous.
Plus, you’re building a continuous backlog of sleep debt which becomes impossible to repay, blindly passing through days on end without getting sufficient rest.
The raw facts are that people will get less done, less effectively and need more time to do it if they are exhausted.
THE OBESITY LINK
Obesity, defined by a BMI (body mass index) greater than 30, can be part of the problem. It’s important to realise the dual effect of being overweight and being an acute snorer. Given the statistics, adult men and women are very likely to already be snorers before their BMI reaches a dangerous point. High blood pressure
will most likely already be a problem.
Heavy snoring, or apnoea, coupled with obesity essentially sets the way for a perfect storm.
THE EFFECT ON RELATIONSHIPS
Perhaps the most widely documented side effect of snoring is the bearing it has on others – in particular your partner.
One Australian study showed just how extreme it can be – 30 of the 500 women who participated in the study said snoring was the sole cause for the breakdown of their marriages.
It’s not hard to imagine the trajectory couples follow when both parties are tired and irritated due to a lack of restful sleep.
The most common solution to this is sleeping in separate bedrooms. At face value it’s encouraging that a couple would take this measure to maintain a happy relationship.
However, many studies into sleep psychology paint a different picture, as lack of sleep can lead to major resentments and even depression.
The reality is snoring is a habit, which means natural measures to stem and even stop snoring should be adopted long before sleeping apart is ever considered.
IT AFFECTS YOUR SEX LIFE
Even before getting to the point where they’re not sleeping together, 21% of women whose partners were mild snorers said it caused a major loss of intimacy in their relationship.
Men and women who are deprived of sleep report lower libidos and less interest in sex due to depleted energy, sleepiness and increased tension.
Men especially are alarmed to learn that snoring can have a direct effect on their ability to maintain an erection. The science is simple: Snoring and apnoea cause high blood pressure
High pressure in the arteries causes internal damage, making them thicker
Thicker arteries restrict blood flow around the body, including to the penis, causing erectile dysfunction or impotence.
A BLUEPRINT FOR SLEEP HYGIENE
Don’t eat high-kilojoule meals close to bedtime and be aware of what’s in your snacks and evening treats – for example, chocolate contains caffeine.
Cut out stimulants such as tea and coffee 2-3 hours prior to going to bed.
Avoid strenuous exercise in the evening. Rather do it in the morning or afternoon.
Get outside during the day. Maximising your exposure to natural light helps regulate your internal body clock and with the forming of a day-and-night regime.
Don’t nap in the day even if you’re tired. Get the regime right and you’ll see a rise in your energy levels so midday napping becomes a thing of the past.
Turn off all laptops, TVs, radios and close your book at least one hour before sleep.
Mental stimulation prevents you from entering restorative sleep.