Blog

Snoring: Make it stop!

Snoring: Make it stop!

Snoring is a common problem for many adults and is characterised by a noisy breathing sound while sleeping. Although most people who snore sleep is unaware of the noise, heavy snoring can be unsettling and disturb sleep for both the snorer and those who share a bed with them.

A 2002 survey of adults conducted by the US National Sleep Foundation found people who have loud, disruptive snoring wake up feeling more tired and less rested than those who rarely snore. [1]

Not getting a good night’s sleep can lead to daytime fatigue, reduced alertness and even increase the risk of accidents. Data from studies shows losing as little as one to two hours of sleep in one night can reduce your daytime alertness by as much as 32 per cent. [2]

If you or someone you live with is snoring loud enough to keep either of you awake, there are several adjustments you can make during the day and before you sleep. Small changes, such as reducing your alcohol intake during the day or sleeping on your side, can make a difference to getting your night’s sleep.

However if snoring persists, it may be time to meet with a qualified doctor to discuss specialised treatment options. Surgical interventions or other medical treatments may be the most appropriate solution to stop snoring for good.

 

What causes snoring?

When you breathe air through your nose and mouth, the air passes through the nasal airways, throat and then to enter your lungs.

While you sleep, your breathing becomes deeper to allow the flow of air to pass naturally through these pipes and tubes to and from your lungs. Your body adjusts by relaxing muscles in your throat to expand your airways so you can easily breathe while you sleep.

If your throat or nasal airways are narrow, air can’t move as freely and will push against the walls of the airways as it passes through. This turbulent airflow causes the walls of your throat to vibrate or make a snoring sound while you sleep. It’s similar to wind passing through a narrow tunnel: the tighter the passage, the more noisily the wind will rattle the space.

You are more likely to snore from narrow airways if you are:

  • Older
  • Overweight
  • Male (who are three times more likely than women to snore)
  • Built in a way that can narrow your throat, such as having enlarged tonsils, cleft palate or deviated nasal passage
  • Recovering from a cold or have allergies that can cause a swollen nose or throat
  • Sleep on your back
  • Have drunk alcohol before sleeping

If you or your bed partner snores from narrowed airways, there are a variety of bedtime and daytime changes that can stop snoring.

 

When can surgery stop you snoring?

Specialised surgery for snoring is performed by a qualified sleep surgeon.

Before the elective surgery is performed, you undergo a full medical examination that includes a variety of scans, blood tests or sleep studies to determine how air is currently passing through your nose and mouth while you sleep. These tests can also help to understand where airflow is blocked and the intensity of snoring.

The most common surgeries target your palate, tonsils, nose or back of the mouth. Different surgery types aim to remove or correct tissues of structural abnormalities that block air passing through and open your airways.

Although it can be difficult to collect results of surgery on snoring by snorers who are sleeping, surgery can have immediate and long-term benefits. A comprehensive review of recent studies indicates surgical procedures are associated with a significant reduction in snoring levels. [3]

Surgery that reconstructs tissue is also successful in improving relationships with partners who snore.

If you are interested in surgery for snoring, it’s important you speak to your doctor about side-effects, along with your expectations and likelihood of success. To learn more you can contact us to make an appointment with Dr Indu Gunawardena to discuss your concerns about snoring. Dr Indu Gunawardena is one of a handful of surgeons who has specialised in snoring and sleep apnoea surgery.

References

[1] National Sleep Foundation, “Sleep in America Poll” 2002 available at https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-polls-data/sleep-in-america-poll/2002-adult-sleep-habits

[2] Bonnet M. Arand DL. We are chronically sleep deprived Sleep 1995; 18(10):908-11 available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8746400

[3] Main C. Liu Z. Welch K. et al. Surgical procedures and non-surgical devices for the management of non-apnoeic snoring: a systematic review of clinical effects and associated treatment costs Health Technol Assess 2009;13(3) available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19091167