The truth about snoring and how to stop it

Snoring can cause both discomfort and sleepless nights for many of us, yet it still remains a mystery

According to the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association, 41.5% of the UK adult population suffering from snorers. This works out at around 15 million snorers in Great Britain alone.

And while snoring isn’t usually anything to worry about, anyone who snores – or sleeps beside a snorer – knows how disruptive it can be. Understanding more about this common condition can help you take steps to reduce your snoring, resulting in better sleep for your whole household.

What causes snoring?

Snoring is caused by breathing in a certain way, with your tongue, mouth, throat or airways in your nose vibrating. These parts of your body relax and narrow when you’re asleep, causing air to make noise as it passes through.

The tongue partially blocking the back of the throat, the mouth falling open during sleep, and blocked nasal airways (like those caused by the common cold) can all make snoring more likely.

There are certain factors that can make snoring more likely, including your weight. Those who are overweight are more likely to snore, as are people who smoke, drink too much alcohol, or sleep on their backs.

Sometimes snoring can be the result of a medical condition, like sleep apnoea. This occurs when your airways become temporarily blocked as you sleep, making breathing more difficult.

What lifestyle changes can you make to tackle snoring?

Although there is no miracle cure for snoring, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of snoring, and to stop it having such an impact on those sleeping nearby.

If you’re overweight, losing excess weight can help to reduce the severity of your snoring, putting less pressure on your airways. By committing to a healthy diet and exercise routine, you can see long term improvements to both your snoring levels and your overall health and wellbeing.

A shorter term solution is to sleep on your side if you’re used to sleeping on your back. Consider taping a tennis ball to the back of your sleepwear, or wedging a pillow against your back to stop you turning in the night.

Quitting smoking and reducing your alcohol intake can also reduce the severity of your snoring. If you take sleeping pills, check the symptoms and side effects as many common brands can sometimes cause snoring.

As you work on making lifestyle changes to reduce your snoring, consider asking your partner to use earplugs to that they are less impacted by the noise levels.

What if lifestyle changes aren’t working?

If you find that these lifestyle changes aren’t helping your snoring, it’s time to contact your GP. Snoring can have a big impact on both your and your partner’s life, so if the consequences of your snoring become a strain, it’s best to seek out medical support. This is also true if you find yourself feeling sleepy during the day, or making gasping or choking noises while you sleep. This can be a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnoea.

A medical professional can look inside your nose and mouth for any potential causes, and refer you for certain treatments or tests to get to the bottom of your snoring. By tackling your snoring head on, both you and your partner can enjoy higher quality sleep in the long run.

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