In the UK there are thought to be 15 million regular snorers and the number who are affected at some more occasionally are probably double that figure. The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association suggest that 41.5% of the UK adult population snore. Men make up more than two-thirds of the snorers and they have a tendency to be the loudest too.
Improving your snoring depends upon the cause. Sleep apnoea is a condition resulting in pauses in breathing during sleep. It has a very strong association with chronic snoring. One adopted definition, defines sleep apnoea as pauses in breathing for periods longer than 10 seconds. It is more likely to occur if you are overweight (Ref. 1 ) and if you have been a long term (chronic) snorer. It is suspected that many suffers of sleep apnoea are not aware of their condition and therefore will not be aware of the health risk it poses to them. Sleep apnoea can occur without snoring but usually does not. Medics usually consider sleep apnoea as a severe end of the snoring spectrum and the point at which it is definitely a medical concern.
So, what are the impacts? – Well if you are a sufferer or your bed-partner is then I am sure you will know all too well. The most immediate is a disturbed night’s sleep. This can cause arguments, irritability and disruption to your mental health (Ref. 2 ). But did you know it could be more damaging to your physical health?
Here are a few of the conditions that snoring and sleep apnoea have been linked to:
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular Disease (Heart attacks and angina) (Ref. 3 ). Some studies have suggested a four to six-fold increase in risk.
Cerebrovascular events (CVA) – Strokes
Strokes are areas of brain death from an interrupted blood supply or bleed causing lack of oxygen to the brain’s tissue. Sleep apnoea may triple your chances of having a CVA.
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
Those with hypertension have roughly 30-50% chance of having sleep apnoea and those with both are more likely to a treatment resistance for their blood pressure. More recent work has suggested that snoring, even without sleep apnoea, may have an impact on cardiovascular disease – possibly because of the repeated vibrations.
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
Those who snore heavily are at 50% greater chance of contracting Type 2 Diabetes.
Others If the snoring is causing sleep apnoea (severe snoring causing restrictions and pauses in breathing) too then there are risks of Headaches, Hypertension, Depression, Irregular Heart rhythms and even Heart Failure. Sleep apnoea can also cause you to lose your driving licence or restrictions at work and it is suspected that this prevents some groups, like heavy good’s drivers, from seeking help with their problems. Treatments aren’t always that popular either, for those with sleep apnoea, as CPAP machines being noisy and disruptive and surgical options even less appealing.
What Can You Do To Improve Snoring?
There are ways that you can improve your snoring…
Being overweight is a significant cause of snoring. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute. Particularly consider any excess weight around your neck. If you are above a 16.5 collar size you may particularly want to consider this. A 10% rise in body-weight has been associated with a 6x increase in Obstructive Sleep Apnoea ( Ref. 4 ).
Exercise can support snoring prevention – even when it doesn’t lead directly to any weight loss. Intense exercise just before bedtime can be disruptive to sleep but keeping fit with exercise is definitely a winner when it comes to preventing snoring. If you haven’t exercised in a while consider a safe and suitable approach.
Nose and sinus problems
Please see a health professional if this is a concern of yours but issues like a continuous blocked nose can be a sign of a nasal polyp which may be a causative factor to snoring. These can sometimes readily be dealt with.
Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh on your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing this position can sometimes help. Wedge pillows and other devices can sometimes help this positional approach.
Alcohol, smoking and medications
These can all contribute to over relaxation of the pharynx and increase snoring. They do not help giving you a good quality sleep either. Reduce them as much as possible – especially for the few hours before bedtime (Ref. 5 ).
Large meals late in the day
Whilst the reason for this isn’t quite as clear as other aspects, trials have shown that eating large meals late in the day, probably is not helpful when trying to prevent snoring. Try and bring that meal forward.
There are many devices out there that claim to cure your snoring. They often are a piece of plastic that is placed in your mouth or nose at night to secure an airway position and attempt to reduce a vibration. They do not tend to make any claims in relation to improving health outcomes and they essentially tend to offer a potential relief rather than a cure.
They do not tend to be popular with users as due to the discomfort and aesthetic look of the wearer is left with. A device with a difference is a new product called Snorgo (www.snorgo.com) . It has a very different approach and is potentially revolutionary to the home device aid for snoring. It aims to exercise the mouth and pharynx and is not worn at night. Instead users do a brief exercise 3 times per day which takes only 1-2 minutes.
The device has built in silver-ion technology to make it more hygienic. It is a device that only advertises itself for snoring (not sleep apnoea treatment directly) and therefore it does not make any health claims; only claims in relation to improving snoring. The early trial results are extremely encouraging for a device at this price.
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airways Pressure and is a medical device that can be offered to you by your doctor. The machine connects to a mask which is worn at night to create a positive air pressure in the pharynx and prevents the tissue from vibrating. The machine itself does create a nose and some complain that masks are uncomfortable. Some reports suggest compliance with CPAP is a significant problem with reports of over half of users stopping using this long term therapy within a short period. Consider the article ‘How to Stop Snoring without CPAP‘ too.
Surgery for snoring or sleep apnoea is often a last resort for both suggesting doctors and for sufferers. Some local “somnoplasty” or Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) or often advertised by private clinics and the NHS will occasionally offer other surgical options in extreme cases where other options have failed. Be careful when looking at success rates in surgical procedures however, as they are often quoted early after the procedure and problems can recur in many cases. Always look at the longer term outcomes. Risks from surgery exist and should always be fully understood. ‘How to stop snoring without Surgery‘ may be of interest.
People also asked
What are the main causes of snoring?
Being overweight. (Weight around the neck can also be a specific risk); smoking; lack of exercise and being unfit and alcohol are some of the biggest causes that can be addressed.
If you improve your snoring do the health issues go away?
Improving your snoring isn’t always easy but it can be done. If you do the work to address the snoring then many factors of health are likely to improve as you will no longer be interrupting sleep or creating that stressor on yourself. Remember if it does settle there will be an immediate beneficial effect for your partner which may lessen household stress. You will also immediately get the benefit of better sleep and a reduction in hormonal stress as a result.
- G. Berger, R. Berger and A. Oksenberg. Progression of snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea: The role of increasing weight and time. European Respiratory Journal. 2009; 33: 338–345.
- Micheline M.D. De Meyer, Wolfgang Jacquet, Olivier M. Vanderveken, Luc A.M. Marks. Systematic review of the different aspects of primary snoring. Sleep Medicine Reviews. 2019; (45) 88-94.
- Patrick Lévy, Silke Ryan, Olaf Oldenburg, Gianfranco Parati. Sleep Apnoea and the Heart. European Respiratory Review Sep 2013, 22 (129) 333-352.
- Ramar, K., & Caples, S. M. (2010). Cardiovascular consequences of obese and nonobese obstructive sleep apnea. The Medical clinics of North America, 94(3), 465–478.
- Burgos-Sanchez C, Jones NN, Avillion M, et al. Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Snoring and Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. 2020;163(6):1078-1086. doi:10.1177/0194599820931087.
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Dr Pete Naylor is the inventor of Snorgo, a patented snoring cure made in the UK recommended by medical doctors.
Wirral CCG Chair 2014 – 2016
General Practitioner (GP) 2000-2017
National Institute for health and Care Excellence National GP representative (Diagnostics) 2012 – 2018
Associate Medical Director ICE Creates 2018 – 2020
Senate Council Member Merseyside 2014 – 2017
Forensic Medical Examiner Merseyside/Wirral 2005 – 2008
Youth Justice Management Board Wirral 2015 – 2017
NHS Doctor 1996 – 2017
GMC registered Doctor 1996 to present
Master of Science in Medical Leadership Birkbeck University and Royal College of Physicians. (Awarded Merit) 2013
OPP Myers Briggs Trainer, 2010. Subsequently also completed Step 2 to further support training
Diploma in Occupational Health, 2006
Diploma in Child Health, 2000
Bachelor of Medicine & Surgery, Sheffield University, 1996
Bachelor of Science, Psychiatric Neurobiology, Sheffield, 1995. Work produced papers on mRNA and Brain Plasticity.
Outstanding Innovative and Inspirational Leader 2013 Northwest Leadership Academy (Given for commissioning work with Wirral Health Commissioning Consortium.)
Vision Award 2012 (National award): Best Long Term Condition Initiative for WHCC
North West Respiratory Best Practice Award 2012: Self Care Award for WHCC
Diploma in Occupational Health – annual award