Is Snoring a Risk to Your Health, and Can You Really Stop Snoring?
In the past, snoring was seen as a harmless hassle—a mysterious nighttime habit of the body which frustrated married couples and fuelled sitcom jokes. Today, however, we know that snoring is not as simple as we once believed; in fact, in some cases, it can be extremely dangerous.
When Is Snoring A Problem?
Snoring, common though it may be, is never a good sign; any degree of snoring suggests that the body is struggling to take in enough air while at rest, something which can seriously degrade sleep quality. As poor sleep quality has been linked to the development of Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular problems, impaired cognitive function, and even cancer, one should never ignore any factor which may lead to an unsatisfying slumber.
While occasional light snoring is usually nothing to worry about, if you or someone you love is snoring noticeably each night, it’s vital that the root cause be identified. Sometimes snoring is “uncomplicated”, meaning that it is caused by a single habit or condition, and removing that habit or managing that condition can therefore restore restful sleep. Snoring may be triggered by: Nasal congestion resulting from a cold or allergies, swollen tonsils, certain medications (including over the counter pain and sleep medications), drinking alcohol, or smoking. If a person’s snoring is a result of one of the aforementioned factors, taking steps such as ceasing to smoke or drink alcohol and/or learning to better manage allergy symptoms can often restore proper air flow through the nasal passages. Additionally, losing weight (if one is overweight) can often help to prevent or lessen snoring as it reduces pressure on the throat muscles.
Sometimes, however, snoring is a sign of a much more serious condition known as Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea can sometimes be fatal as it causes a total cessation of airflow into the lungs, leading the sufferer to choke during his or her sleep. While it can be difficult to tell Sleep Apnea apart from “normal” snoring which occurs as a result of one of the triggers outlined above, the following symptoms are often highly indicative of the condition:
- Snoring so loudly that you wake yourself up during sleep.
- Being awoken by shortness of breath, gasping for air, or choking.
- Experiencing “pauses” in your breathing while asleep (you may need to ask someone else whether or not they have observed this symptom as it does not often wake the sufferer).
- Extreme daytime drowsiness, e.g. falling asleep while working, driving, or engaging in other important daytime activities.
Treating Sleep Apnea
If you suspect you have Sleep Apnea, it’s essential that you seek out a medical diagnosis as soon as possible so that treatment can begin. Standard treatments for Sleep Apnea often rely heavily on the use of breathing machines which properly pressurise the nasal cavity (allowing air to pass through it uninhibited), but depending on your situation, you may be able to opt for a less invasive solution.
We here at Star Dental offer one such solution: A specialised mouth guard which gently moves the lower jaw forward during sleep, opening up the airway. Known as Somnodent, this solution is preferable to many people suffering from Sleep Apnea as it allows the head and neck to move freely during sleep and does not require that the whole mouth and nose be covered by a mask, as is the case when using a breathing machine. Because Somnodent is made of lightweight materials and is custom-fitted to each patient’s mouth, many patients report that they no longer even feel this mouth guard after about one week of use—leading to a truly natural, peaceful slumber. If you think Somnodent may be right for you, feel free to contact us for more information. Learn more on our stop snoring page here.
My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.