Are You a Seasonal Snorer?

Causes, Science

Are You a Seasonal Snorer?

You may have noticed that your snoring gets worse at a particular time of year. If so, you could be a “seasonal snorer”.

Whether it’s a summertime allergy, a winter cold or changes in the weather, there’s plenty of reasons why you may be putting SnoreLab through its paces in January but scoring single digits in July.

Allergies

A leading cause of seasonal snoring is allergies, particularly dust allergies or the pollen allergy better known as hay fever. This is where your body launches into infection-fighting mode in reaction to harmless things.

As allergens get into the body mainly through the nose, this is the area that is most affected. Increased blood flow and release of inflammatory molecules makes your nose stuffy and forces you into noisier mouth breathing.

Allergy-related snoring isn’t just a summertime phenomenon. Whilst hay fever is at its worst during the warmer months (though there are types of pollen prevalent at other times of the year [1]), dust allergies are more likely to strike in winter as windows and doors stay closed trapping dust more readily.

These are some useful strategies to cleanse your environment of the allergens which could be triggering your snoring:

  • Shower before bed. Having a shower before going to bed will rid your hair and body of allergens that may have stuck to you throughout the day. It is also great for normal sleep hygiene as it lowers your body temperature, preparing you for sleep.
  • Wash bedding more often. It is also a good idea to dry laundry away from open windows if you suffer from hay fever.
  • Clean your surroundings. Pollen and dust can also stick to surfaces such as carpets and other soft furnishings. Thorough vacuuming can help, especially if your vacuum cleaner has a built in HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, as this traps allergens.
  • Consider swapping-out soft furnishings. If your allergies are really affecting you and making your snoring intolerable, it might be time to get rid of the carpets and drapes/curtains in your home. The drastic measure could make drastic differences to your snoring.

Snoring related to allergies can also be effectively managed using these consumer remedies:

  • Neti pots. These use salt water to flush out allergens and soothe inflamed tissue.
  • Air purifiers. These are designed to remove allergens from the air.
  • Nasal sprays can be medicated or non-medicated. Both aim to reduce inflammation. Mast cell inhibitor sprays are a good preventative measure for hay fever sufferers.
  • Antihistamines are a type of anti-inflammatory medication commonly used by allergy sufferers.

A cold

The common cold is brought on by a range of viruses that attack the upper respiratory tract. This invasion coupled with your body’s own defense mechanisms cause your nose to swell and become blocked.

The science bit – why does cold weather increase the chance of the common cold?

Contrary to popular belief, the cold weather itself doesn’t directly make you ill. The colder temperatures simply make you more susceptible to viral infection. This is because we spend greater time indoors where infection can spread more easily. We also have less exposure to protective vitamin D and it is thought that cold weather can dampen the initial immune response when we encounter the common cold.

When your nose is blocked you have to make the switch to mouth breathing which can aggravate snoring. This is because open-mouth snoring narrows the airway and makes inhaled air more turbulent.

You can remedy your cold-induced snoring with:

  • Cold relief medication
  • Neti pots. These simple devices use salt water to soothe your nasal passages and clear excess mucus.
  • Nasal sprays. Anticholinergic nasal sprays are the best type for treating a runny nose, whereas decongestant nasal sprays can be an effective symptom reliever.

Temperature

A cool bedroom around 16°C (61°F) is said to be the ideal temperature for sleeping.

But does this affect snoring?

Scientists have looked into the impact of ambient temperature on sleep apnea severity. They have produced some interesting (and seemingly conflicting) results.

A retrospective study of over 7,000 people found that the average AHI during the warmer months was lower compared to during the colder winter months [2].

A second piece of research confirmed this. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea were split into three groups – one group of patients slept in a 16°C (61°F) room, another at 20°C (68°F) and the remaining at 24°C (75°F). The group in the coldest environment experienced the most apnea events. Confusingly, the same group scored the best in terms of alertness and also reported feeling the least sleepy of the three groups [3]!

Weather changes

Many people who suffer from joint pain claim they can tell when a weather front is moving in due to the atmospheric pressure changes [4]. There is also some evidence to suggest that weather and pressure can affect sleep apnea!

In a study in 2010, more than 500 patients with sleep apnea were observed – the weather was documented alongside the patients’ AHI scores.

When bad weather was rolling in and atmospheric pressure dropped, on average the patients’ sleep apnea worsened [5].

These findings have also been supported by other research into the effect of altitude and pressure on sleep apnea. A case report on a patient with sleep apnea in Colombia found that their AHI scores were greater when at higher altitudes where the atmospheric pressure is lower [6].

Humidity

There is evidence to suggest that breathing in dry air can aggravate the tissues in your nose and throat [7]. So whilst low-humidity is unlikely to be the outright cause of your snoring, it can cause irritation and inflammation which could worsen existing snoring.

Humidifiers can therefore be a useful addition to other anti-snoring measures. Further, they can provide relief from the symptoms of allergies and the common cold – other big causes of “seasonal snoring”.

SnoreLab’s guide to buying a humidifier

Read

Lesser-Known Snoring Triggers

Causes, Science

Lesser-Known Snoring Causes

Snoring is often the result of a combination of factors. When trying to find your snoring triggers, it’s important to make note of anything that’s making your snoring worse.

However, there are things that you may not realise play a role in your snoring. Here, we explore the lesser-known factors that can make snoring worse.

Anatomy

Many snorers are victims of their anatomy. Humans are already predisposed to snoring due to some of the features that allow us to speak and stand upright. There are also some key anatomical qualities that make certain people more likely to snore than others …

Deviated septum

Sometimes inherited, sometimes caused by facial trauma, a deviated septum can cause problems with nasal breathing which brings on snoring.

This is where the cartilage that separates the cavities of the nose becomes bent out of shape, making one cavity smaller than the other.

Our noses go through a natural cycle, switching preference for a nostril to breathe through (to give the other one a rest). People with a deviated septum will often notice their nasal breathing difficulties coming and going throughout the day or more importantly – the night.

When breathing through the smaller side, airflow is disturbed and snoring ensues.

Septal deviation can often be corrected with a straightforward surgical procedure called a septoplasty.

Recessed jaw/overbite

Snoring can happen if your tongue falls back and blocks your airway. People with a small and recessed lower jaw are at greater risk of tongue snoring as they have less space in that part of their airway.

Mandibular advancement devices are popular anti-snoring products; these work by moving the jaw forward to prevent the tongue falling back. Unfortunately, these devices are often unsuitable for people with a pronounced overbite as they can cause them jaw pain.

Small nostrils

The nose is the body’s preferred breathing route. Having a stuffy nose or small nostrils can make nasal breathing turbulent or impossible. If impossible, you’ll have to mouth-breathe – a common cause of snoring. Even if you breathe through your nose but with some difficulty, extra suction forces are created which act upon your airway to make you snore.

Enlarged uvula, soft palate and tonsils

Your snoring risk increases dramatically if the actual “noise-makers” are larger than normal. The soft palate plus the connected uvula and tonsils (the soft part behind your palate at the top of your mouth and the tissue dangling from it) are often responsible for the snoring sound. Simply put, if there is more tissue, it is more likely to vibrate and make noise, especially seeing as more tissue narrows the airway.

Often, the solution for snoring caused by your anatomy is surgery. Whilst this can work for many people, it is not always possible or effective in the long term.

Large evening meal

Snoring is linked to your diet. However, it’s not just what you eat but also when you eat. We have heard from many of our users that reducing or even skipping their evening meal can drastically reduce their snoring.

It is thought that having full belly can exert pressure on your chest and negatively affect your breathing. This is because your lungs and diaphragm share space with your stomach and small intestine. When your stomach is very full, your diaphragm has less room to expand and contract.

This explains the shortness of breath people often feel after a particularly heavy meal. If shortness of breath lingers until bedtime, the strained breathing can worsen snoring.

A big meal too close to bedtime can also produce acid reflux, another factor that can make snoring worse.

 

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Smoking

Smokers and even passive smokers are more at risk of snoring and experiencing sleep disordered breathing [1][2]. Some studies have found that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea [3].

Smoking contributes to greater inflammation and irritation in the upper airway. This causes a swelling of the tissues which vibrate and make noise [4].

In addition to this, smokers experience a wealth of breathing difficulties including shortness of breath, reflux, dry throat, excess mucus production and nasal congestion – all of which are linked to snoring [5].

Dehydration

Being dehydrated, in addition to disrupting sleep, can also aggravate your snoring. Dehydration causes the mucus that lines your airways to become thicker than normal. This makes the opposing surfaces of your airway more likely to stick together and cause a noisy obstruction [6].

Climate

Via the same mechanisms as dehydration, living in a warm, dry environment can worsen snoring. Whilst it may not fix the snoring entirely, using a humidifier can really help.

Confusingly, for others, humid environments and changes in weather can also intensify snoring. This is often true if snoring is caused by chronic nasal conditions where inflammation responds to changes in atmospheric pressure. Indeed, many snorers report louder snoring when a weather front is moving in!

Atmospheric pressure has even been seen to influence sleep disordered breathing, with lower pressures producing slightly increased obstructive apnea episodes [7].

Alcohol

Drinking alcohol causes your muscles to relax – even more than they do normally when you fall asleep. This increases the collapsibility of your airway and heightened resistance to incoming air which can aggravate snoring.

As well as helping your muscles relax, alcohol also dehydrates. This causes the mucus in your airway to become stickier.

Sedatives

These work in a similar way to alcohol in that they are depressants, helping your muscles relax which can produce snoring.

Sedatives are substances that have a calming or sleep-inducing effect and come in various guises. “Sedatives” doesn’t just refer to sleeping pills, other medications (such as for those for allergies) can have a sedating effect, as can some natural sedatives.

Excessive use of decongestant nasal sprays

Nasal sprays are a popular snoring remedy for people who snore due to a stuffy nose. There are various types and each work differently.

One type – decongestant sprays – work by constricting the blood vessels in the nose thus helping to expand the airway. If decongestant sprays are overused a “rebound effect” can occur where your nose becomes more stuffy. This is because of adaptations that occur in the nose in response to the spray [8].

What is Snoring? – An Introduction

Causes, Science

What is Snoring? – An Introduction

Partial airway obstruction causes soft tissue to vibrate and make noise.

Nearly everyone snores at some point. Snoring can affect young and old, men and women, and people of all shapes and sizes. Roughly 40% of men and 20% of women snore – that’s over 2 billion inhabitants of planet Earth.

This habit is often shrugged off as annoying and embarrassing but otherwise nothing to be worried about. In reality, snoring can affect so much of life, having physical, mental and social repercussions.

But what is a snore?

Q. What is a snoring sound?

A. Vibrating soft tissue

Snoring is the sound of the soft palate and other soft tissue in the upper airway vibrating. This can include the uvula, tonsils, adenoids, nasal turbinates and other surrounding tissue.

These vibrations happen when air can’t move freely through your airway which causes the floppy soft tissue to flap and make noise.

Q. Why does snoring only happen during sleep?

A. Relaxation

When we fall asleep, many muscles in our body relax. This is true of the muscles in our airway.

Being still in our sleep prevents us from doing damage to ourselves and others by acting out our dreams or walking around when not fully conscious. Therefore our muscles – including those in our upper airway – are paralysed when we sleep.

Because we are lying down while we sleep, gravity compounds this relaxation to set up snoring – whether it’s your jaw falling open, your tongue falling back or your throat giving way to the weight around it.

All of us relax when we sleep – so why doesn’t everyone snore? Snoring occurs when this normal relaxation is added to abnormal airway obstruction.

Q. Why doesn’t air flow freely?

A. Obstruction at various places in the airway

Airflow becomes turbulent when there is an obstruction in the airway causing a partial blockage.

The obstruction can be in several areas in the upper airway, sometimes concurrently [1]:

Tongue. When this falls back, it can block your airway.

Soft palate. This is the soft tissue behind the harder roof of your mouth. Excess floppy tissue here stops air flowing freely.

Nose. The nose is the more efficient way of breathing, and when dysfunctional, mouth breathing ensues and heightens the risk of snoring. Breathing through a partially blocked nose can also create whistling and popping sounds, or even cause suction that collapses your airway.

Knowing your obstruction is the starting point in identifying what causes your snoring.

If you are lucky, there is one cause for your snoring. You can tackle this and sleep quietly. More often than not, multiple factors accumulate to cause your obstruction.

Q. What causes airway obstruction?

A. Many different factors can influence snoring

Understanding what causes your airway obstruction is vital for matching snoring solutions to you. This is what we strive to help with at SnoreLab.

The reasons for snoring are made of lifestyle factors that you can control PLUS physical traits that are beyond your influence.

Factors that you CAN control

Many lifestyle factors need scrutinising if you want to identify the causes of your snoring:

Bodyweight. The heavier you are, the more likely you are to snore as excess weight compresses your airway.

Sleeping position. Sleeping on your back is a big risk factor for snoring. This position allows gravity to compress your airway more than when you sleep on your side.

Allergies. Allergic reactions cause nasal blockage and airway inflammation. Allergy sufferers have trouble breathing through their nose and therefore have to switch to noisier mouth-breathing.

Alcohol. Depressant drugs like alcohol make muscles relax. Relaxed airway muscles are more prone to disrupting airflow.

Smoking. Cigarette smoke irritates the airways, causing inflammation which can lead to obstruction.

Common cold. Similar to allergies, colds mean stuffy noses and mouth-breathing.

Medication. Certain drugs used to control blood pressure, sleeping pills and even some medicated nasal sprays can increase nasal congestion and relax airway muscles.

Factors that you CAN’T control

Unfortunately, in some cases, the obstruction is simply a part of your anatomy and genes.

Certain face shapes predispose people to snoring. For example, those with a pronounced overbite have a recessed jaw which pushes the tongue further back into the airway, making it more prone to falling back and causing a blockage.

Age. Older people are more at risk of snoring. This is because as we age we lose muscle tone in much of our body – this includes the muscles of the airway.

Sex. Men are more likely to snore than women. This is due to several reasons including how fat is differently distributed, contrasts in male and female airway anatomy and hormones.

Hormonal balance. Some hormones are protective against snoring, whereas others confer heightened risk. Menopause is a time in many women’s lives where snoring starts for the first time. This is because of a decrease in hormones that help to prevent snoring.

Thankfully, these uncontrollable elements are usually associated with heightened risk but not a direct cause.

Conclusion

By understanding the basis of snoring you can gain better insight into what makes you snore. Just as snoring impacts upon your life, your lifestyle impacts upon your snoring.

There are many snoring remedies and solutions available, including products that enthusiastically tell you that this will stop you snoring. Many of them do work very effectively, but only if they are well matched to you and your snoring.

Understanding how your snoring works and finding your specific causes is the first step towards healthier, quieter nights.

Age and Snoring

Causes, Science

Age and Snoring

Snoring can worsen with age, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk. It’s also important to remember that young people snore too.

“Snoring is an old person’s problem”. This statement is both true, and very false. There’s no shortage of changes that take place as we age, and a propensity for snoring is one of them.

Whilst age is a significant risk factor for snoring and sleep apnea, increasing numbers of young people and even children find themselves snoring, or even gasping and choking through the night.

Snoring’s association with age is exactly that, an association, not an inevitability. If you’ve found your snoring worsening with age, there are a few things that you can do to. Additionally, if you feel you’re too young to be snoring all the time, you’re not alone. It may be time to carefully consider its possible causes.

Why do we snore more as we age?

Our sleep changes as we age. We find it harder to fall asleep and stay there, get less sleep in general, and crucially, we’re likely to snore more. Some sources show that fewer than 10% of 17-29 year olds say they frequently snore, whilst more than 40% of over 50s do [1].

When it comes to the more dangerous prospect of sleep apnea, some 18% of people aged 65 and over are having at least 10 apneic episodes per night compared to only 3% of under 45s [2].

But why is this? Aging is inevitable, but snoring doesn’t have to be. Age-related snoring has direct and indirect causes …

Direct reason – weakened airway

Weak airway muscles are the main reason for snoring more with age.

Snoring happens when the tissue in our airways start to vibrate because it is too loose. Just as skin loses tension with age and muscles in our bodies become weaker and less toned, so does the airway. This loss of tone is particularly true of the soft palate, one of the main sources of snoring noise [2].

Throughout earlier life, women tend to snore less than men. This gap is narrowed once women reach the menopause as various physiological changes make you more likely to snore.

Indirect reasons

With age comes a few other factors that make snoring more likely:

  • Easier to gain weight. A slowed metabolism and overall decrease in physical activity make weight gain go hand in hand with age. Weight gained on the neck and midriff heighten the risk of snoring.
  • More medication. Drugs to treat high blood pressure, heart conditions and even simple pain relief medication can lead to a congested nose which makes snoring more likely. Sedatives also contribute to enhanced relaxation of the soft tissue of the throat.
  • Reduced immunity. Lots of snoring can be caused by a blocked nose; blocked noses are often the result of a cold, something you might be more vulnerable to as you age [3].

What can be done to combat age-related snoring?

Remember, snoring isn’t inevitable as you age. There are things you can do:

  • Mouth exercises. The best way to get tone back to those weakened muscles in the throat is to exercise them. Check out our guide to anti-snoring mouth exercises, an anti-snoring tactic which can be particularly helpful for older snorers.
  • Mouthpieces. Another way of tightening that loose tissue is to use a mouthpiece which brings your jaw or tongue forward. Find out more about the right sort of mouthpiece for you with our buying guide to anti-snoring mouthpieces.
  • Treat your blocked nose. Your nose can be blocked for a number of reasons, so there are a multitude of solutions. See our guide to snoring and nasal blockage to see what’s stuffing you up and what you can do about it.
  • Lose some weight. Easier said than done, yes. Impossible once you reach a certain age, no. Often, effective weight loss and retention needn’t involve a hard-to-maintain crash diet. The cumulative effect of many small, sustainable and positive lifestyle and diet changes can make a big difference. Have a look at our SMART strategy for weight loss.

Snoring is not just an “old people problem”

Despite the evidence for snoring increasing with age, we and many SnoreLab users testify that snoring is not a problem confined to older people. Yes, fewer young people snore when compared to the older population, but this “fewer” still constitutes thousands upon thousands of people [1].

Snoring has many causes and we are increasingly seeing that snoring and sleep apnea is a problem for not only adults, but adolescents and children too …

Young adults and snoring

How common is it?

There seems to be some conflicting numbers when it comes to young adults snoring. One thing however is certain: snoring is not an “old people problem”.

A survey of 12,000 high school students in Korea revealed that a startling 22.8% of them snored, with just over 1,000 even reporting experiencing sleep apnea [4].

The prevalence of snoring in university-age young adults is higher than many think. One study asked 2,200 California university students aged 18-25 about their snoring. 30% reported snoring [5].

Even anecdotally, whilst scrolling through SnoreLab’s Twitter feed at the start of the university semester in October, we see many unhappy students lament the snoring capabilities of their new roommate!

Snoring in young adults often goes unnoticed. This is due to several reasons:

  • A misconception that snoring is only a problem for older people
  • Social stigma around snoring
  • Lack of understanding of the risks, therefore a reluctance to seek help or information
  • Younger people usually sleep alone so aren’t identified as problematic snorers.

Why is it a problem?

Snoring and sleep apnea present problems for younger people just as they do for older people. As well as the risks to your physical health that sleep apnea poses (which can present more of a problem in young people), snoring amongst young adults has shown to have a negative impact on other facets of life such as mood regulation, driving safety and even academic performance [6].

One study assessed the likelihood of medical students to fail their exams based on whether or not they snored. Non-snorers had a failure rate of 13%, whereas 42% of the frequent snorers failed their exams [7].

What can be done to help?

Of course, the best treatment for snoring depends entirely on its causes, of which there are many. That said, anti-snoring product companies are putting more emphasis on the importance of snoring in younger people.

Good Morning Snore Solution have recently introduced a tongue retainer for young adults aged 16-25, based on an assumed difference in facial shape and size. Tongue retainers work by preventing your tongue falling back and blocking your airway whilst also tightening the slackened tissue in your throat.

Whilst many will be skeptical about how the mouthpiece is actually tailored specifically to this group of people, it is great to see companies in the anti-snoring marketplace taking snoring in young people seriously.

If you don’t know where to begin with your snoring, have a look at our 7 ways to stop snoring naturally and our 7 recommended snoring aids.

Children and snoring

How common is it?

Studies estimate that around one in ten children snore. On top of that, 1-4% experience obstructive sleep apnea [8], a condition all too frequently associated with older people.

Snoring in children can be relatively normal, but if they are snoring consistently throughout the night for four or more nights a week, it needs to be taken seriously [9].

Why is it a problem?

Sleep deprivation is the biggest problem for children with sleep disordered breathing. Children need lots of healthy sleep to develop well. Studies have linked sleep fragmentation with ADHD, and adolescents presenting to mental health services show a high prevalence of sleep disturbance [10].

What can be done to help?

Children have slightly different airway anatomy to adults. A common culprit for snoring in children is the adenoids – glands located near the soft palate which usually shrink and disappear later in life along with the snoring itself [9].

For that reason, surgically removing these glands is often an effective treatment method for children with obstructive sleep apnea. Some research indicates that children’s stunted mental capabilities, often attributed to the sleep disturbance that accompanies sleep apnea, reverses completely 3 to 10 months after surgical removal of the adenoids [11].

Not all children will show an improvement after this type of surgery. Much like in adults, snoring can be caused by other factors. For example, obese children and children with certain craniofacial abnormalities, show less improvement [8].

Conclusion

Age can indeed make you snore more, but snoring is not just an “old people problem”. Sleep patterns change with age but one thing remains constant: good sleep is important. If your snoring is impacting upon your sleep or health in any way, at any age, it needs addressing. Understanding and treating snoring earlier in life puts you in a better position to not snore further down the line.

Snoring with an Open Mouth

Causes, Solutions

Snoring with an Open Mouth

Mouth breathing is one of the most common causes of snoring.

If you snore and frequently wake up with a dry mouth and sore throat, it’s likely that mouth breathing was the cause.

 

How mouth breathing can cause snoring

Plenty of snorers have weak jaw muscles or excess weight on their chins that pulls the mouth open whilst they sleep. This causes a troublesome switch to mouth breathing.

Studies have shown that your airway is narrower and more elongated when you breathe through your mouth, making vibrations more likely.

Sleeping with your mouth open aggravates snoring in numerous ways [1]:

The airway is narrowed. An open mouth causes your throat to compress as your tongue falls further back into your airway and the open space behind your tongue and soft palate is reduced.

Inhaled air becomes turbulent. Directly inhaled air vibrates the soft tissues at the back of your mouth

The airway dries out. This is because mouth breathing doesn’t humidify incoming air like nasal breathing does.

You are more susceptible to breathing in harmful things. Unlike nasal breathing, mouth breathing doesn’t trap allergens and bugs which can in turn worsen your snoring.

In addition to snoring, mouth breathing brings other problems that impact upon sleep quality, your breath, oral health, respiratory health and even face shape [2].

Why nasal breathing is important

Whilst mouth breathing is a primary cause for snoring, nasal breathing not only lowers your snoring risk, but has other benefits too.

Snoring reduction

Nasal breathing warms and humidifies incoming air, helping to prevent your airways drying out. It also channels air over your snoring noise-makers in a far less turbulent way than mouth breathing does.

More comfortable sleep

By treating the air, your nose prevents the frequent awakenings you may experience from having a dry mouth.

Enhanced filtration

The mucus and many folds within your nasal cavities do a great job of trapping potentially harmful invaders such as allergens and viruses/bacteria. These, in addition to making you feel terrible, can worsen your snoring.

Proper ventilation

Nasal breathing reduces the chance of hyperventilation – over-breathing with frequent, shallow breaths. Proper ventilation leads to optimum oxygen/carbon dioxide balance, allowing for improved blood oxygen saturation [2].

Enhanced nitric oxide inhalation

Nitric oxide (NO) has often been termed “the mighty molecule” [3]. Produced in the nose and sinuses, nasal breathing helps push this molecule into the lungs where it can exert its benefits. Here, it expands your blood vessels to reduce blood pressure and the associated risks [4]

Solutions if you CAN breathe through your nose

If you can breathe clearly through your nose but aren’t taking advantage of it, there are plenty of ways to keep your mouth closed to stop snoring …

SomniFix Mouth Strips

This innovative snoring solution uses a gentle adhesive to hold your lips together whilst you sleep. SomniFix strips are hypoallergenic, can be painlessly removed without leaving a sticky residue, and have a small mesh vent to allow limited mouth breathing if necessary.

This inexpensive, simple yet sophisticated product has shown to have massive benefits for mouth breathing snorers.

SnoreLab’s full review of SomniFix

Read

Mouth shields

Shields fit behind your lips but in front of your teeth to prevent mouth breathing. Products such as the SnoreLab recommended Somnipax Shield can also be custom molded and have small holes to allow a little mouth breathing if necessary.

Chin straps

Chin straps are another effective, if a little cumbersome, way to keep your mouth closed at night. They are usually worn under your chin and around the top of your head.

Mouthpieces

Mouthpieces can be particularly effective if your snoring is has multiple causes. If mouth breathing plays a role but isn’t the sole cause, mouthpieces not only promote healthier nasal breathing but also bring jaw forward to tighten the slack airway tissue responsible for snoring.

SnoreLab’s full guide to anti-snoring mouthpieces

Read

Tongue retainers

Similar to other anti-snoring mouthpieces, tongue retainers effectively block the mouth breathing route. In addition to this, they also work by holding your tongue forward to prevent it blocking your airway. We recommend the Good Morning Snore Solution for open mouth snorers whose tongues block their airway.

Solutions if you CAN’T breathe through your nose

If you can’t breathe clearly through your nose, for obvious reasons, there is no benefit to blocking the mouth breathing route. Instead, try …

Adequate hydration

Being dehydrated and having a dried airway contributes to thickened mucus which makes the walls of your airway more likely to stick together and make noise. Whilst we don’t recommend drinking loads before bed, make sure you drink plenty throughout the day and avoid salty foods before bed.

Humidifiers

When you are forced into mouth breathing by a blocked nose, humidifiers can provide relief and reduce snoring. They do the job of your nose by adding moisture to the air you breathe. Be sure to have a look at our guide to humidifiers and check out our recommended product.

Nasal treatments

If you are mouth breathing and snoring because your nose is blocked, have a look at our insights into nasal congestion and snoring. There are multiple causes of a blocked nose and many different ways to treat it.

Snoring Due to a Blocked Nose?

Causes, Science

Snoring Due to a Blocked Nose?

A blocked, congested or stuffy nose is one of the leading causes of snoring.

Many snorers will notice that they cannot breathe well through their nose and instead have to breathe via their mouths.

Unblocking your nose can drastically reduce snoring, but which way is best? Nasal obstruction has many causes so there are several different solutions.

Here, we explore the different causes of a blocked nose that could be the root of your snoring:

What could be blocking your nose?

Just as there is no single cause of snoring, many things can cause a blocked nose. Multiple factors can often working in sync with each other to aggravate snoring.

Check to see if you fit the profile for any of these …

1. A cold/illness

The common cold is brought on by a range of viruses that attack the upper respiratory tract. This invasion coupled with your body’s own defense mechanisms cause your nose to swell and become blocked.

Remedy your cold-induced snoring with:

2. Allergy

A leading cause of nasal obstruction and indeed snoring is allergies – particularly dust allergies or the pollen allergy better known as hay fever. This is where your body launches into infection-fighting mode in reaction to harmless things.

As allergens get into the body mainly through the nose, this is the area that is most affected. Heightened blood flow and release of inflammatory molecules make your nose become stuffy.

Snoring related to allergies can be effectively managed using:

  • Neti pots. These use salt water to flush out allergens and soothe inflamed tissue.
  • Air purifiers remove allergens from the air before they get to your nose.
  • Nasal sprays can be medicated or non-medicated. Both aim to reduce inflammation. Mast cell inhibitor sprays are a good preventative measure for hay fever sufferers.
  • Anti-histamines are a type of anti-inflammatory medication commonly used by allergy sufferers.

Read the story of SnoreLab user Jenny, who effectively banished her snoring after treating her dust allergies.

… I recorded my snoring and scored 199 with 70% of my snoring at the epic level. We cleaned, vacuumed and aired the room. I had some allergy medication from the doctor, settled down and WOW! I didn’t snore! …

3. Environmental factors

Fumes from noxious chemicals, smoke (tobacco or otherwise), perfumes and even changes in temperature are some causes of non-allergic rhinitis (rhin = nose, itis = inflammation).

This type of nasal blockage can be chronic, meaning it lingers for a long time and persistently recurs.

If you are exposed to these irritants on a daily basis, you may have lived with a stuffy nose for so long that you don’t even realize it anymore. Perhaps you don’t even factor it in as a cause of your snoring. Think about your day to day life and the things you are exposed to, as certain occupations carry more risk of exposure to these harmful irritants.

The natural environment can also influence snoring. Use SnoreLab to make notes on any stark changes in the weather, as this can certainly play a role in nasal blockage and snoring

Snoring caused by breathing bad air can be improved with the use of:

4. Hormones

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. Because they travel in the blood they are capable of reaching everywhere in the body, including the nose.

Hormonal fluctuations are particularly prominent during the menopause, menstruation and pregnancy.

There’s no shortage of changes that take place in the body during pregnancy, and though it may be low on your list of priorities, changes do take place in the nose. With increased blood supply to many parts of the body, up to 42% of pregnant women in their third trimester experience nasal blockage and as many as 49% snore (as opposed to 20% of the general female population) [1].

If hormonal fluctuations are responsible for your blocked nose and snoring, consider using:

5. Alcohol

An alcoholic drink before bed isn’t a great idea for restful or quiet sleep. Snoring is the result of over-relaxed muscles obstructing the airway. As a depressant, alcohol only makes this worse. Additionally, the breakdown of alcohol in the blood produces some transitional chemicals that, before being expelled as waste, can cause nasal congestion [2].

6. Nasal sprays

Using nasal decongestant sprays has proven effective in reducing nasal blockage and in turn, snoring. Whilst some types of nasal spray recommend daily use, the decongestant type (which works by constricting nasal blood vessels) can start to have the opposite effect if overused causing a “rebound effect” [3].

If you are using a nasal spray to treat your allergies, always check what type it is and read the instructions.

7. Medication

A blocked nose can also be triggered by prescription drugs that you may be taking regularly to treat other conditions.

Medication for high blood pressure (ACE inhibitors), heart conditions (beta blockers) and simple over-the-counter pain relief (NSAIDs) can all contribute to stuffing you up.

Have a check in your medicine cupboard if you suspect that your nose is worsening your snoring. This can often be remedied with a non-medicated approach such as a nasal dilator.

8. Physical abnormalities

If inflammation in the nose persists, the nasal folds become damaged and cause a blockage in their own right. Small, benign tissue growths called nasal polyps can develop alongside long-standing allergies, recurring infection or bad reactions to drugs such as aspirin.

The structure of your nose is also important. People with a deviated septum are likely to suffer from nasal blockage. This is where the cartilage separating your nasal cavities is asymmetric, meaning one cavity is larger than the other, with the smaller chamber having the propensity to become blocked.

A deviated septum is often due to facial trauma, though is also associated with certain genetic disorders of connective tissue and birth defects.

Sometimes, a simple nasal dilator can be very effective at relieving snoring caused by nasal tissue abnormalities. See which ones are most suitable for you with our guide to nasal dilators.

The science bit – how does nasal obstruction cause snoring?

Your nose is great, and when it’s working correctly you are unlikely to appreciate the important work it does. Whilst adding warmth and moisture to incoming air, it also uses mucus to trap harmful invaders and channels air through your upper airway efficiently and silently.

Snoring with a partially blocked nose

Trying to breathe through a blocked nose is uncomfortable. If you can just about manage it, the whistling or popping noise you get, whilst not the textbook definition of a snore, is still incredibly bothersome and would benefit from some attention.

A typical snore is still possible with a closed mouth. If you breathe through partially blocked nose, greater suction forces are created that can cause your throat to collapse and bring on snoring where your uvula and soft palate start to flap [4].

Snoring with a fully blocked nose

Usually, with a stuffy nose you simply aren’t getting enough air into your lungs through this narrowed space. This is when you need to go to breathing plan B, through the mouth.

Unfortunately, mouth breathing is a leading cause of snoring.

Opening your mouth whilst you sleep results in some changes to the shape of your airways, particularly the soft tissue “noise makers” that are responsible for snoring. Sleeping with your mouth dangling open is known to aggravate snoring for numerous reasons [5]:

  • An open mouth causes your throat to compress
  • Your tongue falls further back into your mouth
  • The open space behind your tongue and soft palate is reduced
  • Directly inhaled air vibrates the soft tissues at the back of your mouth
  • Your throat dries out from breathing in non-humidified air
  • Mouth breathing doesn’t filter allergens and bugs.

Conclusion

For some, a blocked nose is the sole cause of snoring, for others, the picture is bigger. Understanding what role your nose has in snoring and identifying the cause can set you well on your way to tailoring the correct remedies to your snoring and achieving quieter nights.

For more information about the best snoring remedies for a blocked nose, read our full article.

Snoring During Pregnancy

Causes, Science

Snoring During Pregnancy

It is estimated that as many as 49% of pregnant women snore, many of them having never snored before [1].

This goes against the rule that women naturally snore less than men. In the general population, around 20% of women across all ages snore, with even fewer of child-bearing age doing so.

“At nine-months pregnant, I have been keeping my poor partner awake with my late-night nasal symphony.”

Amongst the medley of changes happening during pregnancy, your new-found snoring is probably low on your list of priorities. But if you are pregnant and have recently found yourself snoring, you may have questions and concerns: why is it happening, is it something to be worried about and what can you do to stop it? Let SnoreLab talk you through it …

Why does snoring increase during pregnancy?

It is perfectly normal to snore whilst pregnant. Swelling in your upper airway, weight gain and breathing for two all work together to make you more likely to snore …

Blood

By the third trimester, your blood plasma volume is 40-50% more than it was before you were pregnant. On average, that is another liter and a quarter [2], or roughly 2 pints!

This is necessary to meet the increased demands of growing a human. It is also to protect you from potential blood-loss in labor. In the meantime, this vast expansion in blood volume has some swelling effects on much of your body, including the areas responsible for snoring.

Your airway becomes increasingly engorged with blood which causes it to narrow. This means the air passing through has more resistance. Additionally, you may notice that your nose has become quite congested. 42% of women in their third trimester have pregnancy-rhinitis, or nasal swelling [3]. This can cause you to breathe through your mouth and snore as a result.

“I am nearly nine-months pregnant and for months I have been suffering with even more nasal congestion than usual.”

Weight

Weight gain during pregnancy changes the way you breathe. As your uterus expands, it pushes upwards as well as outwards, meaning your diaphragm is pushed up too. This creates a lower residual volume in the lungs which can predispose your throat to obstruction and snoring [1].

Breathing changes

When pregnant, not only are you eating for two, you are also breathing for two! Pregnancy induces some subtle changes in the way you breathe: increasing the respiratory drive and the amount of air you breathe in an out within a given time. This can create negative pressures which lead to snoring [1].

Should you be worried about snoring during pregnancy?

There is some research out there to suggest that pregnant snorers are at greater risk of complications compared to pregnant women who don’t snore. But don’t panic. These are links, not direct causes and can often be associated with issues other than normal pregnancy-onset snoring.

Two studies by a team of US scientists in 2012 [4] and 2013 [5] found that snoring expectant mothers were at greater risk of:

  • Pre-eclampsia – a condition characterized by high blood pressure and proteins in the urine.
  • Having labor complications that necessitated a Caesarean section.
  • Babies having a low birth weight.

The important thing to note here is that these studies talk about “chronic snorers”. This refers to women who snored a lot before they were pregnant. If you are new to the snoring game since becoming pregnant, you needn’t worry.

Pregnant women who snore shouldn’t be overly concerned about these findings. Every woman is different, and whilst these studies attempted to adjust their methods in order to look at snoring alone, other health factors are bound to have an effect.

Indeed, being obese before pregnancy, having chronic conditions of the upper airway and smoking heighten women’s risk of snoring when pregnant. If these factors are applicable to you and your snoring has got much worse since becoming pregnant, it might be advisable to seek some guidance.

If you are concerned about your snoring, experience excessive daytime tiredness or think you are having apneic events, consult your antenatal care provider.

What can you do to stop pregnancy-induced snoring?

The good news is that if you have started snoring since becoming pregnant, it is very likely that once you have given birth, the snoring will stop.

In the meantime, as you navigate though the complexity of pregnancy, to give yourself one less thing to worry about and reduce your snoring, you can try a few things …

  • Try nasal dilators – these are non-medicated so you needn’t worry about them being suitable for pregnant women. These simple devices either fit into your nostrils, or across the bridge of your nose. Here, they gently open your nasal passages and reduce snoring associated with a blocked nose.

“Pregnant ladies, these are your cure to breathing again until the baby comes!”

  • Sleep on your side – sleeping on your back is known to compress your airway and make snoring much worse. Regardless of snoring, side-sleeping is a good idea as you progress through pregnancy as it ensures adequate blood flow to your baby [6].
  • Eat properly – gaining weight during pregnancy is inevitable but it’s important to not gain weight excessively. Careful consideration of your diet during pregnancy ensures the health of your baby and can keep off the excess weight that can lead to snoring.
  • Use a humidifier – running a humidifier can reduce the congestion in your nasal passages, helping you breathe easier through your nose to reduce the likelihood of mouth breathing and snoring.

“I am pregnant and suffering from a dry nose so a humidifier has been a life-saver!”

Conclusion

The changes that happen during pregnancy can come thick and fast, and having the added annoyance of snoring seems a bit unfair. Thankfully, if you have started snoring only since being pregnant, you are extremely likely to stop once you have given birth.

Whilst there is some science to suggest an increased chance of complications, don’t be too concerned if you find yourself snoring whilst pregnant, particularly if you are new to snoring. Try a few of our tips and if your snoring still causes problems, consult your antenatal care provider.

Sleeping Position and Snoring

Causes

Sleeping Position and Snoring

Sleeping on your back makes you more likely to snore or experience sleep apnea.

Side sleeping is the best sleep position for snoring. This is because side sleeping reduces the compression of your airways.

Back-sleepers can try a variety of techniques to prompt themselves to sleep in healthier, quieter positions …

How to improve your sleeping position

If you find yourself sleeping on your back and snoring, it’s time for some “positional therapy”. Simply put: try sleeping on your side!

Making this basic change, without the need for any invasive techniques, complicated devices or significant expenditure could have a huge impact on your snoring or sleep apnea.

Side note: a history of side-sleeping

It has long been known that side-sleeping prevents snoring. Soldiers in the American War of Independence and in the First World War were advised to wear their rucksacks filled with bulky things whilst they slept. This was to stop them rolling onto their backs and snoring, giving their position away to the enemy [1].

Your sleeping position is an ingrained habit, so can be hard to change. That said, there are techniques that can make a huge difference.

You can try to change your sleeping position with hacks you engineer at home, specially designed pillows or even vibrating training devices that tell your subconscious mind that it’s time to turn over.

1. Homemade hacks

Before you buy something to help you sleep on your side, give some of these free tactics a go:

  • Tennis ball therapy. Tape one or sew a pocket for one to the back of your pajamas to make sleeping on your back difficult.
  • Inflatable pillow prop. Stuff a fully inflated camping pillow into an empty pillowcase. Lie on the empty portion of the pillowcase with your back resting on the inflated pillow. We learnt this trick from SnoreLab user Michael

“I use a small inflatable camping pillow, about half the size of my normal pillow. I blow it up to just short of its maximum so it is very firm and difficult to roll on to and push this inside a normal pillow case all the way to the end which leaves a tail. Sleeping on this tail stops the camping pillow from rolling away whilst propping me up and stopping me from rolling onto my side. If I want to get onto my back it’s quite a struggle and doesn’t happen by accident.”

  • Bed head elevation. For stubborn back sleepers – slot some books underneath the head end of your bed to create the couple of degrees of elevation that could make a real difference.

 

SnoreLab’s full article on homemade hacks to improve your sleeping position

Read

2. Specially designed pillows

Some pillows are designed to keep you in more favourable positions to stop your snoring:

  • Wedge pillow. For the stubborn back sleeper who simply can’t sleep on their side; wedge pillows elevate your head which lessens the effect of weight on your airway. Check out SnoreLab’s recommended memory foam wedge pillow.
  • Neck realignment pillow. If you find side-sleeping uncomfortable on your neck and back, try one of these. SnoreLab’s approved pillow has adjustable height and aligns your airway to reduce the chance of snoring.
  • Pillows to promote side sleeping. Some pillows make it difficult to sleep on your back either with ergonomically designed ridges or with arm holes to stop you turning in your sleep.

“I was recommended a wedge pillow to elevate my head. I saw on the app that this could let me still sleep on my back but in a more elevated position so I was drawn to this idea. I found the position comfortable as I could go back to my preferred sleeping position. It’s also quite firm so my head was nicely elevated which gave me instant success.”Fiona, SnoreLab user.

 

SnoreLab’s full article on specialist anti-snoring pillows

Read

3. Vibrating training devices

These are devices that attach to your body and vibrate when they detect that you are sleeping on your back – the automated equivalent of a nudge in the ribs from your sleep-deprived bed partner.

The subtle vibration creates a subconscious prompt for you to roll onto your side. Evidence for their effectiveness is growing, with tests showing positive results for mild obstructive sleep apnea comparable to using a mouthpiece [2].

“The efficacy of sleep position training therapy was maintained over 12 months and was comparable to that of oral appliance therapy in patients with mild to moderate positional OSA.” [2]

The Snooor wearable trainer is a small and discreet device that sticks to your head or chest. We believe it has the potential to be one of the most effective snoring remedies available:

  • Non-invasive. Simply stick it to your forehead or breastbone. You’ll soon forget it’s there.
  • Easy to use. Simply press the button to turn on and then start feeling the vibrations after 20 minutes.
  • Lightweight and discrete. Measures only 40mm x 40mm.
  • Affordable. Unlike other positional trainers, the Snooor wearable doesn’t require a prescription and is far cheaper than alternatives.

Save 10% with code:

SNORELAB

The science bit – why does sleeping on your back worsen snoring?

When you sleep on your back, your mouth has a tendency to fall open. This changes the shape of your upper airway.

The effect of gravity on your face, head and neck starts to compress your airway; this is particularly poignant if you are overweight due to the excess fat on the neck.

Researchers have measured these altered airway dimensions meticulously: using MRI, radiography and infra-red analysis of the upper airway [3][4]. They found that when you sleep on your back:

  • Your jaw recedes, compressing the upper airway
  • Your tongue falls back
  • There is more oval shape of the upper airway

All of these factors combine to compress the airway, disturb airflow and cause vibration – i.e. snoring. In the worst-case scenario, they cause complete blockage and sleep apnea.

Sleep-breathing problems are often related to an unhealthy sleeping position. More than half of all obstructive sleep apnea cases are referred to as “position-induced” sleep apnea [5], where the severity of the condition is massively reduced when switching to side-sleeping.

Conclusion

If you think your sleeping position is influencing your snoring, it may be time to consider positional therapy to start to sleeping in quieter, healthier positions.

Of course, there are many people who sleep on their side and still snore. Snoring has many causes so it’s important to explore them all.

Remember to check out our guide to specialist snoring pillows and clever hacks to help you sleep on your side.

A Guide to Hay Fever and Snoring

Causes, Solutions

A Guide to Hay Fever and Snoring

Given that up to 30% of us suffer from hay fever [1], it is possible that this seasonal pollen allergy could be playing a major role in your snoring.

If it’s warm outside and your nose is blocked, follow our guide to see if hay fever is making your snoring worse, and try our ten tips to breathe quietly again.

 

10 tips to manage hay fever-induced snoring

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What is hay fever?

Hay fever is simply an allergic reaction to pollen in the air. This is an immune response (albeit an unnecessary one), which is a tactic your body uses to fight infection.

Once pollen gets into your system, the cells that fight infection are called upon, flooding your upper airways and releasing a medley of molecules that cause inflammation.

How can hay fever make you snore?

An inflamed nose makes breathing harder and snoring worse.

With a hay fever burdened nose, you’ll often have to make the dreaded switch to mouth breathing which can aggravate snoring in many ways:

  • Your tongue falls farther back
  • The space behind your tongue and soft palate is reduced
  • A lowered jaw compresses your throat
  • Your throat becomes dried because air is not being humidified by the nose
  • Directly inhaled air vibrates the soft tissues at the back of your throat.

Even if you can still breathe through your nose, forcing air through this inflamed, restricted space creates suction forces that can still narrow your airway and bring on snoring [2].

How do you know if you have hay fever?

Symptoms

Hay fever affects your nose, eyes and throat. You’re likely to be constantly reaching for the tissues as your nose streams, or feel the hundredth sneeze of the day coming on. All this congestion makes it difficult to breathe properly through your nose.

Red, itchy and painful eyes coupled with an irritated throat top off a list of symptoms that are bound to ruin a perfectly good summer’s day.

How do I know it’s not just a cold?

The symptoms of hay fever appear similar to those of a common cold, but their patterns differ. Hay fever is longer lasting, whilst most colds disappear within a week or two. Hay fever symptoms should also start to alleviate once you are inside with the doors and windows shut.

Assessing your symptoms alongside a local pollen forecast over several days is a great way of distinguishing hay fever from a cold.

Season

Pollen and hay fever is most widespread during the summer months. This is when most plants are particularly active and reproducing.

Generally, in the Northern Hemisphere, hay fever season runs from March to September, but winter hay fever is not impossible. Alder and hazel trees are early risers, flowering as early as January if the winter is particularly mild [3].

Weather patterns

The weather is a good predictor of pollen severity. With hay fever, you will notice worsened symptoms on those dry, warm and breezy days. Damp days with little wind are less troublesome as pollen is harmlessly swept to the floor.

Different pollen types and location

There are over a dozen types of plant that produce allergenic pollen, and not everyone is allergic to the same type.

Grass pollen allergy is by far the most prevalent, affecting 95% of hay fever sufferers. Specific trees and weeds also have the potential to cause hay fever. Interestingly, ragweed pollen, implicated in 50% of hay fever cases, has shown to be in greater concentrations at night [3].

Being familiar with your local flora can help you narrow down the triggers of your hay fever symptoms [4].

Many countries have their own regional pollen forecasts. These give information on the intensity of different types of pollen, based on location, time of year and the weather.

Ten tips to manage hay fever induced snoring

If you think that your snoring related to a pollen allergy, try these ten tips to rid you nose, body and surroundings of pollen for a better night’s sleep …

1. Use a neti pot

Neti pots create space in your nose by tackling obstructive mucus. Hay fever causes the inside of your nose to become swollen. Here, mucus can’t be moved along and instead builds up. Neti pots use tepid salt water with the assistance of gravity to flush out this excess, along with any attached allergens and inflammatory molecules.

 

Shop for SnoreLab’s recommended

neti pot starter kit

2. Use nasal dilators or sprays

Nasal dilators mechanically open your nasal passages. Internal dilators prop open your nostrils whereas external strips use a springboard action to pull open your nasal valves [5].

Nasal sprays work by reducing inflammation or constricting the blood vessels in your nose. Some types recommend regular use, whereas others should only be used occasionally – in all cases remember to read the instructions.

3. Invest in an air purifier

The microscopic nature of pollen means that it can’t easily be seen. An air purifier can be an effective way of filtering pollen and other potential allergens that hide in your home. There are many types, shapes and sizes – ideally try to find one that makes less noise than your snoring otherwise would!

 

4. Take antihistamines

Antihistamines are medicines that are effective in reducing the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. They come in many different forms but all work in the same way: by dampening the main type of molecule involved in your allergic response to pollen, (you guessed it) histamine.

5. Shower before bed

Having a shower before going to bed will rid your hair and body of pollen that may have stuck to you throughout the day. It is also great for normal sleep hygiene as it lowers your body temperature, preparing you for sleep.

6. Quarantine pollen contaminated clothes

It is also a good idea to quarantine the clothes you step out of, not allowing them back in the bedroom with you. This way you won’t contaminate your bedroom with the very thing you’ve been trying to get rid of in the shower.

7. Clean pillowcases more often

A decongested nose, a clean body and washed hair are only useful if you aren’t then putting your head on a pillowcase covered in pollen. When pollen levels are particularly high, it is sensible to wash your bedding more frequently.

8. Dry laundry indoors

Hang laundry indoors, away from open windows. Whilst a stiff summer breeze outdoors will dry them in no time, it will also cover them in pollen.

9. Clean your bedroom

Pollen can also stick to surfaces such as carpets and other soft furnishings. Thorough vacuuming can help, especially if your vacuum cleaner has a built in HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, as this traps pollen that would otherwise be fired straight back out via the exhaust.

10. Close doors and windows

All this washing and cleaning could be in vain if your open doors and windows allow pollen back into your home. When the weather is nice it is tempting to throw open the windows and let in some air, but try to at least keep your bedroom an isolated haven of pollen-free good sleep.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you should now be able to spot the signs of hay fever, and with these tools, take control of your pollen allergy to achieve better and quieter sleep.

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Overweight and Snoring: A Vicious Circle

Causes, Diet & Lifestyle, Science

Overweight and Snoring: A Vicious Circle

Being a snorer and being overweight are interchangeably linked. In other words, obesity can cause snoring and snoring can cause obesity.

Promisingly, weight loss is the most potent remedy for snoring. Dropping a few pounds can drastically reduce both normal snoring and sleep apnea.

 

Weight loss techniques for snorers.

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SnoreLab’s SMART strategy for weight loss

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Loud snoring is often a stepping stone towards sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea, and the link with bodyweight is clear.

Obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) value more than 30kg/m2, is the most significant risk factor for the development of sleep apnea. 70% of patients experiencing sleep apnea are obese, and 40% of obese people experience sleep apnea. The vast majority (95%) of people with obstructive sleep apnea are snorers [1].

How does being overweight make you snore?

Our weight is determined by our daily eating and exercise habits, with a degree of genetic predisposition. Where fat is distributed on our bodies dictates snoring.

Neck fat causes direct compression of the upper airway

Neck fat compresses the upper airway, particularly when lying down, making snoring much more likely.

Many questionnaires that assess your risk of sleep apnea ask your neck size. This isn’t something that many people tend to associate with snoring but it certainly plays a role. A value exceeding 16 inches is a watershed, where your weight is probably a major player in your snoring.

Midriff fat causes indirect compression of the upper airway

Being overweight and snoring isn’t just about neck fat. Central obesity, where fat is found around the midriff and chest, also worsens snoring and sleep apnea.

Belly fat pushes your diaphragm up (a phenomenon mirrored in pregnant women, another sub-group of snorers), and fat on your chest compresses the ribcage. Both of these shrink the volume of your lungs. Lower lung capacity restricts airflow, air that is needed to keep some shape in the throat to prevent collapse.

Men are more likely to snore due to their fat distribution

Distribution of fat differs between the sexes, which goes some way to explaining why more men snore than women. Women usually gain body fat peripherally: on the thighs, hips and buttocks.

Central fat on the neck, chest and abdomen is a pattern far more common in men, making them more likely to snore.

After menopause, fat distribution in women changes, making central weight gain and snoring more likely.

How can snoring make you overweight?

Everyone knows that overeating and under-exercising makes us overweight. What is less well known is that snoring itself can facilitate weight gain.

This is because sleep deprivation caused by snoring or sleep apnea changes our habits and our appetite.

A classic example of this is someone who is tired during the day due to a poor night’s sleep, drinking high-sugar soft drinks to stay alert.

Poor sleep saps our energy. We can’t always catch up on sleep when we like, so instead we fill that energy void with food, particularly foods with plenty of sugar. Here, we think we are hungry but are actually just sleep deprived.

Under-exercising is a symptom of the fatigue and tiredness that come from bad sleep. If you aren’t sleeping properly, how ready for exercise do you really feel?

This is the snoring-obesity cycle.

Snorers and their partners lose sleep, so are less inclined to exercise and more inclined to eat lots of carbohydrate-rich foods. This spells weight gain. More weight means more snoring. More snoring produces worse sleep and more exhaustion, which in turn is mitigated by overeating and under-exercising [2].

 

A perfect storm

No aspect of health is an island. The body is a hugely complex, interlinked network of systems where every action has a host of reactions. Snoring and weight gain work in a vicious cycle but not in isolation; both factors suck in more health problems as the cycle spirals out of control.

Even without being overweight, low oxygen episodes in sleep apnea put strain on the heart and blood vessels. Coupled with obesity, a perfect storm is brewing that can lead to heart troubles, stroke and diabetes amongst many other maladies.

The benefits of weight loss

Now let’s look towards a positive, snoring-free future. Somehow you must break the cycle. When you do, the results are often astounding.

Many studies have looked into the effect of weight loss on disturbed sleep breathing. They have found that many people can half the severity of sleep apnea by losing only 10-15% of their bodyweight [3].

But why stop at 10-15%? Further weight reduction has hugely dramatic effects on sleep and snoring. Another study found that following bariatric surgery (a procedure to reduce the size of the stomach) where there was 60% body fat reduction, apnea episodes stopped entirely in 86% of people [4].

So how do you break the cycle?

Research has shown that people getting poor sleep are far less likely to lose weight. Fatigue and stress from sleep debt makes people disinclined to stick to diet and exercise regimes [5]. So how do you break the cycle?

Ideally, you need a combined approach of effective weight loss techniques, well suited snoring remedies and good sleep hygiene.

1. Weight loss techniques for snorers

There’s no shortage of advice and special diets when it comes to losing weight. It can all be a bit confusing and overwhelming. No single technique works wonders for everyone, and drastic solutions are rarely stuck at for very long. Try a combination of the following, sustainable methods to start you on your way to weight loss:

Front load your diet

This is another way of saying eat more in the morning and less in the evening. Nobody agrees why, but weight loss seems to be enhanced when people have smaller evening meals. At SnoreLab, we’ve heard from many users who say that skipping their evening meal massively helps their snoring.

Low carbohydrate diet

Reducing your carbohydrate intake – that’s sugar and starch – can help you lose weight very quickly. This can be achieved with smart substitutions of ingredients.

Don’t eat too soon before bed

Indigestion can cause reflux and discomfort that disrupts sleep. Eat earlier, get better sleep and feel readier to lose weight. SnoreLab’s Four-Hour Fast could stop your snoring tonight!

Eat little and often

Big meals make you feel sluggish. Feel better and more active by eating smaller portions throughout the day.

Slow down

There is a natural delay in digestion, so we can be physically full before our brain realises we are, causing us to overeat. By taking our time when we eat, not only do we stop sooner, but we also enjoy food more.

 

Read more about these tactics in detail with

SnoreLab’s SMART way to lose weight

2. Snoring remedies well-suited to overweight people

Snoring remedies can be very effective if they are correctly matched to the snorer. Due to the nature of their snoring, there are certain remedies that are better suited to overweight people:

Mouthpieces 

Your mouth falls open when you sleep if neck fat has decreased the muscular tone in your neck. Use a mouthpiece to bring your jaw forward to stop your tongue falling back and causing airway obstruction. Anti-snoring mouthpieces vary greatly, be sure to check out our guide to anti-snoring mouthpieces.

Positional therapy 

This is another way of saying: sleep on your side! The combined effect of being overweight and sleeping on your back can make snoring very bad. There are many ways to change your position, from specialised pillows and vibrating training devices, to simple hacks like attaching a tennis ball to your back.

 

Recommended products to help you sleep on your side

See

Wedge pillow 

If you can’t sleep on your side, slight head elevation with a wedge pillow has shown to be extremely effective in reducing snoring, particularly for overweight people.

CPAP 

This is the remedy of choice for sleep apnea, and can be very effective in reducing snoring and improving sleep.

Mouth exercises

Reducing weight-related snoring needn’t just involve exercising your body, many snorers see massive improvements when performing various mouth and throat exercises.

 

Mouth exercises for snoring

Read more

Remember to use SnoreLab to tag the remedies and factors you use so you can see how they are affecting your snoring. Also make note of how well you have slept each night, and if any changes you’ve made have had an impact.

3. Good sleep hygiene

Set yourself up for a great night’s sleep by practising good sleep hygiene. This isn’t about personal cleanliness (though showering/bathing does indeed help) but is about preparing your mind and body for sleep. Follow these useful tips:

  • Have regular bed times.
  • Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep.
  • Make sure your room is dark.
  • Mentally declutter with gentle activity like reading a book.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Avoid napping too soon before bedtime.
  • Have a cool bedroom.
  • Take a shower or bath before bed.
  • Don’t force sleep if it isn’t forthcoming.

As well as these tactics, be sure to have a look at SnoreLab’s SMART approach to weight loss and snoring reduction.

Conclusion

If you are overweight and snoring, you may find yourself in a cycle that is difficult to break free from. With effective weight loss techniques, well suited snoring remedies and good sleep hygiene, you can start to lose weight, stop snoring, and gain so much more.

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