Say goodbye to snoring

Anyone can snore, but, according to the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA), more than two-thirds of snorers are men.

‘Men are more likely to carry weight around their neck and throat, and are more likely to drink and smoke – all factors that contribute to snoring,’ admits Marianne Davey, co-founder of the BSSAA.

Although male snorers can sometimes wake themselves up with their noisy breathing, female partners are more likely to be staring at the ceiling and missing out on valuable sleeping time. So if you’re the one venting frustration at the duvet and stuffing cotton wool into your ears, is there anything you can do?

‘You can’t cure snoring but you can find effective ways of controlling it,’ says Davey. ‘The main thing is to find out what’s causing it – are the snores being caused by a problem related to the mouth, nose or tongue?’

‘Working that out will help you find the right treatment, while saving money on treatments that won’t work.’

SNORE TYPE

Test yourself, or your partner with these simple exercises:

NASAL SNORER?: Press the side of one nostril to close it. With your mouth closed, inhale through your other nostril. If the nostril tends to collapse try propping it open with the end of a matchstick. If breathing is easier with the nostril propped open, nasal dilators may solve your snoring problem. Test both nostrils.

MOUTH SNORER?: Open your mouth and make a snoring noise. Now close your mouth and try to make the same noise. If you can only snore with your mouth open then you are a ‘mouth breather’. Products that help you keep your mouth closed while sleeping will help stop you snoring.

TONGUE SNORER?: Stick your tongue out as far as it will go and grip it between your teeth. Now try and make a snoring noise. If the snoring noise is reduced with your tongue in this forward position then you are probably what is known as a ‘tongue base snorer’ – where snoring is caused by lack of tone in the tongue and surrounding tissues. Devices that position your lower jaw up to 5mm further forward are effective for this form of snoring (see Jaw Adjustment).

 So, just what are the most effective stop-snoring strategies?

 DECONGESTANT: Decongestant inhalers available from pharmacies can help keep nasal passageways clear when snoring is caused by a cold or allergic rhinitis and should be used 15mins before bed.

Good for: nasal snorers

 NASAL DILATION: ‘Devices that hold nostrils open are an effective treatment for people who snore because they suffer from allergies and congestion,’ says Dr Flemming. An easy-to-use product is Breathe Right nasal strips – these fix to the outside of the nose, holding nostrils open. (Breathe Right Nasal Strips are available at chemists and online.)

Good for: nasal snorers

 ESSENTIAL OILS: Throat sprays containing essential oils and astringent herbs have been found to tighten tissue of the soft palate and uvula – these can otherwise flutter to cause snoring.

Good for: mouth snorers

 CHIN UP STRIPS: If during sleep you breathe through your mouth, you will probably snore. Designed to be placed beneath your lower lip and at the sides of your mouth, Chin-Up adhesive strips help prevent your lower jaw from falling open – without obstructing the mouth. Snore Calm Chin Up Strips are available from chemists nationwide and online.

Good for: mouth snorers

 JAW ADJUSTMENT: If snoring is caused by loose tissue around the base of your tongue, devices that hold the lower jaw and tongue forward can stop snoring by giving more space to breathe. SomnoGuard AP (£129.99 plus shipping), an oral appliance made from flexible plastic can be directly moulded in the mouth after being heated in boiling water.  Available from the BSSAA online shop.

Good for: tongue snorers

 SINGING: Singing exercises designed to tone tissues of the tongue, mouth and throat could effectively reduce the type of snoring which worsens with age. In these cases, snoring is caused by lax tissue tone at the back of the mouth and throat. For info and a CD describing singing exercises, go to www.singingforsnorers.com.

Good for: mouth and tongue snorers

 LASER SURGERY: If your partner doesn’t have the discipline to sing his snoring away, laser treatment could be the next best option. Effective for snoring caused by lack of tone around the uvula – the arch at the back of the mouth – a laser is used to trim away excess tissue. Treatment known as uvulopalatoplasty provides an instant and permanent cure.

Good for: mouth snorers

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