Snoring is a big problem for some people and their partners
Do you or your partner snore?
The partner is often the person who suffers most due to the disturbed nights sleep. The snorer can also suffer a less than ideal restful night as they may wake themselves from snoring or from temporarily stopping breathing (known as sleep apnoea). A sharp dig in the ribs from their partner is also not good for a nights sleep!
Why do we snore?
Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft tissues in the throat and behind the tongue. Snoring can be a major factor in sleep disturbance and can lead to lack of energy, poor concentration, mood swings, and irritability. In the long term, snoring can also lead to high blood pressure and heart problems.
Snoring is also one of the symptoms of sleep apnoea, a disorder that is actually quite hard to identify. The problem with sleep apnoea is that it is a severe condition requiring immediate treatment. Because of this, dental professionals must determine if the snoring problem signifies the presence of sleep apnoea as early as possible.
How do I know if I have sleep apnoea?
Snoring does not signal the presence of sleep apnoea in all cases.
With sleep apnoea an increase in weight or a reduction in muscle tone can trigger the change from a partially blocked airway (snoring) to a completely blocked airway (obstructive sleep apnoea). It is common for the sufferer to be completely unaware of the disorder, and remain undiagnosed for several years. Sleep apnoea has recently been linked to an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
To determine whether snoring is linked to sleep apnoea, the following symptoms need to considered:
Pauses that take place while snoring with choking or gasping that following the pause
Fighting sleepiness at work, when driving, or during the day
Rapidly falling asleep when inactive
Irritability, depression and mood changes or personality changes
Sore throat or dry mouth after waking up
The need to wake up frequently to urinate
Breathing cessation episodes
Difficulty staying asleep
What risk factors are there for snoring and sleep apnoea?
The following are risk factors for snoring and sleep apnea.
Late evening alcohol
Use of night time sedatives
Sleeping on your back
Sometimes lifestyle changes can reduce your snoring and your sleep apnoea risk.
Do I need treatment?
Benign snoring can be far from benign. The social consequences can be extremely distressing, banishment from the bedroom, relationship disharmony, lack of travel plans due to sharing a hotel room or the long journey on transport.
Many of the stories we hear are not deserving of the all-too-common joking approach to snoring, it can be a serious problem for some.
There is evidence that snoring is linked with high blood pressure, diabetes and carotid artery atherosclerosis. Many now believe that snoring may be a precursor to obstructive sleep apnoea.
Treatment is essential for sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea results in serious sleep disruption and can produce greatly impaired performance at work, at home, and on the road. Car accidents are much more common in those with sleep apnoea.
The response to appropriate therapy can be extraordinary with a return to a state of alertness and vitality often not experienced for years.
What can I do to help my snoring?
The majority of people suffering from problematic snoring can be effectively treated using a appliance that they can wear at night. The appliance is an effective treatment as it tackles the problem at its root cause by holding the jaw and tongue in a position while you sleep and this will keep your airway open.
What about treating sleep apnoea?
Mild to moderate sleep apnoea can be eased using an oral device. There are a few different devices and this will be based on you individual needs.
The most commonly used is the mandibular advancement device (or known as a mandibular repositioner) and maintains the lower jaw in a forwards and downwards position to keep the airway open.