If you’ve ever tried to sleep next to a snoring partner, you’ll be all too well aware how interrupted sleep can lead to frustration, irritability and exhaustion. It’s worth remembering though, that snoring is a medical condition, not a habit. Earplugs or separate bedrooms may solve the problem, but they don’t tackle the root cause of the condition; which is vibrating tissues in the airways of the nose and throat. Don’t despair though, because this completely involuntary, but nonetheless annoying, condition can be treated in a variety of ways.
Sleeping in the supine position or, in other words, on your back, increases the tendency of the tongue and soft palate to collapse into the throat. Encouraging your partner to sleep in the lateral position, or on his or her side, may be all you need to do to enjoy a peaceful night.
Weight gain, especially in men, can exacerbate harsh, snorting sounds during sleep. Men tend to accumulate fat around their necks and waists, Fatty deposits in the neck area narrow the airways leaving less room to breathe. If your partner is overweight, losing a few pounds by diet and exercise can be a highly effective method of treating the condition.
Alcohol, too, causes the muscles in the throat to relax which, in turn, encourages the back of the throat to collapse. Avoid drinking alcohol 2-3 hours before sleeping. Any medication that has a sedating effect including sleeping pills, may also reduce the muscle tone in the throat, with similar effects to alcohol in terms of restricting the airways.
Smoking, even passive smoking, can be problematic because cigarette smoke irritates the lining of the nose and throat, causing swelling and congestion. This narrows the airways, making it more difficult to breath and increasing the risk of disturbing the sleep of anyone within earshot during the night.
Oral appliances, or mouthpieces, typically resemble the mouthguard, or gum shield, worn by boxers and rugby players to prevent broken teeth and jaw injuries. However in this case, appliances work by pulling the mandible, or lower jawbone, forward. In so doing, they prevent the tongue from obstructing the airways, so that air flows freely over the soft palate, reducing or eliminating the vibration of the tissues and the grunting or snorting noise associated with it. Oral appliances can be custom made to suit the relationship between your upper and lower teeth when biting together, known as occlusion, and their shape, for maximum comfort and efficiency.
Book your FREE 10minute pre-assessment to ask our dentist, Dr Jay, if an oral appliance is suitable for you. Call Westside Dentistry on 07 3278 0580.