Snore at night and feel weary in the morning? Or is your partner a nightly snorer? Even though snoring is mostly harmless, it is important to clarify the causes. How to proceed and tips for sufferers.
Snoring is an annoying evil. Depending on the intensity of the snoring, it can have a detrimental effect on the body’s essential recovery process – and sometimes it can be caused by a serious illness. Are you lethargic in the morning and sleepy and limited in what you can do during the day? Do you experience interruptions in your breathing during sleep? If so, have your snoring assessed in order to rule out sleep apnoea and prevent damage to your health. In the case of children, snoring should always be investigated.
There is no universal anti-snoring remedy. For the establishment of targeted treatment and therapy, an individual evaluation is required. Nevertheless, the risk of a bad night’s sleep can be reduced with a couple of simple household remedies and measures. You can usually stop the problem of snoring:
Our muscles relax when we sleep. This is also true for our upper airways. Everything becomes soft and lax, including our palate, uvula and tongue. This means that our airways become narrower. If the air we breathe in flows past such a bottleneck, the surrounding tissue vibrates, causing the typical noises we associate with snoring.
Snoring can have many reasons. Some of these can usually be avoided by leading a healthy lifestyle. The most frequent causes are as follows:
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Most cases involve normal snoring, which is also referred to as primary snoring. From a medical perspective, this form is usually nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, it generates an annoying noise of up to 80 decibels – as loud as a lorry on the motorway. This disturbs our sleep, and especially that of our partner. Be wary if you suffer nightly interruptions in your breathing: this could be obstructive sleep apnoea. The lack of oxygen due to the interruptions in your breathing increases the risk of cardiovascular illnesses, including heart attacks and strokes. Such sleeping disorders need to be looked at by medical sleep professionals. A consultation is also advisable for people who do not suspect that they suffer from sleep apnoea or interruptions in their breathing if they suffer from heavy snoring. Talk to your doctor. He or she can initiate the required examinations and, where necessary, refer patients for an outpatient consultation at a centre for sleep medicine or a sleep laboratory.
Online, you can find various therapies and anti-snoring aids ranging from anti-snoring pillows, anti-snoring mouthpieces, nose sprays and tongue pacemakers to turtle-like sleeping vests designed to prevent the wearer from sleeping on their back. The wealth of such aids alone shows that there is no quick universal solution for stopping snoring. Only after a precise diagnosis can treatment achieve this objective, be this in the form of snoring therapy or a surgical procedure for your nose or palate. Braces and mouthpieces should also be handled by professionals. These might be appropriate if a jaw misalignment is the reason you snore. You may otherwise find yourself spending unnecessary money on aids that have no effect on you.
Snoring is widespread: one in every five men snores. Women are affected less frequently, except during pregnancy (due to their weight gain and preference for sleeping on their back). Men and women both snore more frequently with age: from age 60, some 60 per cent of men are affected and 40 per cent of women. This is because during menopause, the female body produces less oestrogen and the muscles along the airways become limp. In addition, the tissues become drier, allowing snoring to set in. Talk to your gynaecologist about this issue.
Snoring (ronchopathy) is the name given to noisy night-time breathing. A differentiation is made between primary or habitual and obstructive snoring, so-called sleep apnoea .
Daniela Janssen (lic. Phil. somnologist and psychotherapist FSP) is a member of the Specialist Somnology Team at the Zentrum für Schlafmedizin Hirslanden Zürich (centre of somnology). She advises adults, young people and children with sleeping disorders. As a psychotherapist, she also works in her own practice. Daniela Janssen was available to the editorial team in an advisory and editorial capacity for this article.