Is your partner picking up bad vibrations every night? More men than women snore, and it not only drives your bedmate crazy. It may signal a health problem.
Close to half of all adults snore occasionally, and a quarter are habitual snorers, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head-and-Neck Surgery (AAOHNS). Snoring is more common in men than women and becomes more frequent with age.
Anatomical problems, such as blocked nasal passages or poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat, and habits such as drinking alcohol or nighttime snacking increase your risk of snoring.
But the number one risk factor for snoring in adults is being overweight.
“When you gain weight, it doesn’t just go to your belly or bottom; your face and neck get fat, too,” says Julie L. Wei, MD, Division Chief, Otolaryngology, Department of Surgery at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida. “Excess soft tissue in your throat narrows your airway. Your breathing becomes louder, and you’re more likely to snore.” Having a large neck (greater than 17 inches for men, 16 inches for women) puts you at increased risk of snoring.
You know what snoring sounds like – that rattling, vibrating, gurgling, annoying sound that can keep loved ones awake and may signal danger for you. Those “bad vibrations” occur when the walls of your throat vibrate as you breathe in and out. The narrower your airway is, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring will be.
Sleep Apnea: The Not-So-Silent Danger
If the walls of your throat collapse completely for a few seconds, you may have a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (cessation of breathing) or OSA. These brief moments when you stop breathing can happen repeatedly throughout the night, leading to too little oxygen to your brain and your body. That can raise your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression. Signs that you may have OSA:
- You wake up several times during the night, sometimes gasping for breath.
- You feel unrefreshed, tired, or groggy when you get up in the morning and even throughout the day.
- You have a sore throat in the morning (from breathing through your mouth).
- You have headaches, especially in the morning.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You can’t concentrate or remember things as well as you used to.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, see your doctor, who may refer you to a sleep clinic for an overnight sleep study. (The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has a handy tool to help you find an accredited sleep center in your area.) At a sleep center, doctors can measure the number of times your breath is constricted (hypopneas) or stops (apneas) for 10 seconds or longer throughout the night, as well as your heart rate and brainwaves to determine if you have OSA and if you do, whether it is mild, moderate or severe.
If you do have OSA, your doctor may prescribe a nasal mask called a CPAP, so named because it delivers continuous positive airway pressure to keep your airway open. Oral appliances to open your airway or nasal dilators may also help. Less commonly, your doctor may recommend surgery to prevent airway obstruction by reducing the excess tissue in your throat or correcting a deviated septum or other nasal problem.
Making some simple lifestyle changes can also improve your snoring and reduce your risk for apnea, and make you healthier overall.
1. Lose weight if you are overweight.
As little as 10 pounds can make a big difference in how much you snore. Excess tissues in throat will cause snore so losing your weight will reduce the tissues in throat that cause snoring.
2. Minimize late-night eating.
It takes the stomach about four to six hours to empty. If you eat late at night, when you lay down to go to sleep you’re more likely to have heartburn, reflux, congestion — and snoring. Best advice? Stop eating completely at least three hours before you go to bed.
3. Don’t drink alcohol within four hours of going to bed.
“Alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat that control the palate, and if muscle tone is flaccid and floppy, as you breathe in, the air flow pulls that tissue shut, causing you to snore,” says Dr. Wei.
4. Treat allergies.
Take allergy medicine as prescribed by your doctor, use air conditioning to keep allergens outside if necessary, or try using a saline rinse before going to bed to clear your nasal passages.
5. Change your sleep position.
When you sleep flat on your back, gravity can pull your tongue back, narrowing or blocking your airway, causing snoring or even OSA. Sleeping on your side or stomach causes your tongue to fall forward, opening your airway, reducing snoring.
6. Sleep with a humidifier
Try to sleep with a humidifier especially in the winter. “The nose works best when there is adequate humidity,” says Dr. Wei. “When you’re dry, the nose feels stuffy and you end up mouth-breathing and snoring.”
Dealing with the complaints about Snoring
It is obvious that when you receive complains about snoring from your partner, you feel hurt. Although you didn’t even know about it’s happening. Snoring is a common problem but it can take your relationship with your partner in uncertain situations. You and your partner together needs to work on this.
Keep the following steps in mind in order to deal with such complains.
Snoring is a physical issue:
Remember that snoring is a physical issue. To deal with it or to have a control on it, is only in your hands.
Don’t take it personally
Don’t feel embarrassed on the complains, understand your partner & don’t her frustrations personally on you. Remember that your partner loves you but not your snoring.
Take a problem serious
Take your partner’s snoring problem seriously. Help your partner in getting out of this problem rather than complaining about it.
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