Health News Digest


February 19, 2018

A Look At Snoring

By Michael D. Shaw

Snoring (not that you need a definition) is that rough, hoarse noise produced upon the intake of breath during sleep—and caused by the vibration of the soft palate and vocal cords. Typically, it is linked to mouth breathing, caused by nasal obstruction. Snoring is more common in men than in women, and it occurs more often in obese persons. In children, it is often caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids. As the Mayo Clinic explains:

“Snoring can be caused by a number of factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and your weight. When you doze off and progress from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate.”

Doctors Daniel P. Slaughter (otolaryngologist) and Sudhansu Chokroverty (neurology/sleep medicine) were quoted in a WebMD article, and offered these suggestions, which may stop snoring:

1.     Avoid sleeping on your back. Instead, try sleeping on your side. A body pillow may help you achieve this. Chokroverty notes that taping tennis balls to the back of your pajamas might discourage sleeping on your back. Alternatively, you can elevate your position, with your head up—opening nasal airway passages. However, if snoring continues regardless of the sleep position, obstructive sleep apnea would be suspected. Get that checked out.

2.     Be careful with alcohol and sedatives. They reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely that you’ll snore. “Drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping makes snoring worse,” Chokroverty says. “People who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.”

3.     Try to practice good sleep hygiene (good sleep habits). Sleep deprivation leads to an overtired situation, whereby “You sleep hard and deep, and the muscles become floppier, which creates snoring,” Slaughter says.

4.     Keep those nasal passages open. Saline rinses and nasal strips can help.

5.     Watch out for allergens, as they can promote snoring. These include remnants of dust mites and animal dander.

6.     Stay hydrated. “Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated,” Slaughter says. “This can create more snoring.”

Any number of natural remedies have been proposed to stop snoring, including several yoga asanas and pranayamas. Helpful videos are included at the linked site.

A particularly unique natural remedy for snoring involves playing the didgeridoo. As it happens, playing this instrument requires a technique called circular breathing, in which a continuous tone can be produced without interruption. The musician must inhale through the nose, while simultaneously exhaling through the mouth, using the air stored in the cheeks. In so doing, the weak upper airway muscles implicated in snoring are strengthened.

As to how snoring affects relationships, here is a disturbing, but often quoted statistic: Snoring is the leading medical reason for divorce among Americans and third leading cause overall, trailing only infidelity and financial problems. Related to this is the UK finding that 89 percent of couples in which snoring or sleep apnea exists, sleep in separate rooms.

I was recently introduced to a brand new anti-snoring product called Snorelax.. These are easy-to-use adhesive strips that keep your jaw in its normal position, and your airway open, thus preventing snoring.

I’ll give the last word to Jaime Raijman, COO of Snorelax…

“Snoring is more than a nuisance or a form of ‘noise pollution.’ It is often a warning sound about—it is a common symptom of—increased risk for heart attack and stroke, as well as obesity, depression, and early onset of Type 2 Diabetes, among many other conditions. Solving this problem requires excellence of design and efficacy of results. It means that Snorelax is the culmination of the medical research and product development necessary to address this challenge. It also means that form is as important as function; that style is inseparable from substance; that how a product feels is as crucial to how it works. Snorelax fulfills those goals.”