by Stephen Janz Clinic Director Kenmore Centre for Health
Snoring is a common condition which can disrupt the sleep of the snorer and anyone kept awake by the snoring. This can lead to a strain on event he best relationship causing fatigue, irritability and resentment. Many snorers may not even realize that this situation can change. While the symptom of snoring itself is not a personal health concern, it can also be an indication of an underlying condition such as sinus or obesity, or more seriously sleep apnoea. Snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft palate and soft–tissue at the back of the throat. Snorers are typically male (though females are also affected), overweight, between 30 and 65 years old, may have high blood pressure and are often told that there snoring is worse after alcohol consumption and worse to sleep on their back.
A few simple measures can have a big impact on snoring and overall health. Avoiding alcohol in the hours before bed and sleeping on the side rather than the back can have an immediate effect. Avoid sleeping tablets (see our webpage for tips on managing insomnia) and treating nasal congestion can help further. Losing excess weight can also be effective – of course all of the previous strategies have an overall benefit to health, vitality and wellbeing. Cases unresponsive to the above strategies may benefit from a mouth splint, and in extreme cases surgery. Natural medicine can help snoring as it is very effective at treating a number of these underlying factors. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have a good effect on nasal congestion as well as regulating sleep toward a normal pattern (avoiding the need for sleeping tablets). A dietary approach can help with weight management as well as addressing sensitivities which may aggravate sinus congestion. Acupuncture can also assist the snorer’s ‘victim’ by addressing any stress or sleeping problems they may be experiencing which is exacerbated by snoring.
Sleep apnoea is a more serious condition where a person can stop breathing up to 100 times a night resulting in day time fatigue and lethargy. This condition is typically diagnosed in a sleep clinic and in the first instance can respond to the same approach as for snoring above. The use of a mask at night which keeps the airways open (CPAP machine) is the most effective approach for persistent cases if the simple strategies don’t work, though not everyone finds this comfortable. Acupuncture has also been shown to be effective in some cases of sleep apnoea in several trials and offers an option where other treatment is unsuitable.
Whatever the cause of snoring addressing this condition can only lead to better sleep, better health and vitality not just for the snorer but as well as for those who live around them.