Snoring isn’t pleasant for anyone, whether you’re the person who sleeps beside the snorer, or the actual snorer whose breathing may pause repeatedly throughout the night. However, did you know that loud, excessive snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnoea. If left untreated, you’re more likely develop heart disease.
Along with a healthy diet and regular exercise, sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy heart. About 3.5 million Australians have some form of heart disease, so treating sleep apnoea is good for your sleep and your heart. According to the statistics collected by the Sleep Health Foundation, out of the 50% of Australians who do snore, only 15% will be diagnosed to have sleep apnoea.
People often do not realise that they snore.
What’s interesting, people might not even be aware that they snore! It usually affects people around them as they are the ones to complain about sleeping noises. Moreover, even though someone might not be aware of the problem, it still impairs the quality of his or her sleep.
Although snoring is a condition that might affect anyone, and you have probably heard your children snore from time to time, men and overweight people are more likely to be affected, and it has been observed that the tendency gets worse as we age. In fact, snoring is common amongst middle-aged men, and increasingly, middle-aged women in Australia.
Is there anything that can be done?
This is the great part: snoring can actually be treated. And the sooner the better, as new studies point to potential health risks linking snoring with heart disease. It is all about those brief moments when you stop breathing as they can lead to cardiovascular problems and be potentially life-threatening. Researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital have also discovered that people who snore regularly, have a much higher risk of having thicker or abnormal carotid arteries, which link the heart to the brain.
If you snore, that is something you should definitely discuss with a medical doctor. And if it is your loved one – you know what to do (see above).
Snoring has never been thought of as something dangerous
Some of the carotid arteries are located just a few centimetres away from the throat. When you snore, your throat vibrates and the carotid arteries thicken as a reaction to that vibration. There’s no running away from that fact. Snoring seems innocent by itself but when we consider it having impact on the whole body, suddenly the picture changes its colours.
At this point you might wonder if thickening of the carotid arteries can lead to heart disease? It can actually be a sign of two conditions:
- An increased risk of stroke
- Arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries
As a result, people should now treat excessive snoring or sleep apnoea as a reason to visit the doctor and discuss cardiovascular health and stroke prevention.
Are there ways to alleviate snoring?
All in all – if you snore, you really should go and see a medical doctor. However, there are things you can start doing straight away.
- First of all, get a good rest. We live in a hectic world where life might seem to spin out of control. Make sure you have the time to rest
- Take care of yourself and exercise on a regular basis. Avoid doing it right before you go to bed as the adrenaline flowing in your veins, will not let you fall asleep
- Limiting alcohol consumption is a great way to help snoring as too much alcohol interferes with sleep. One drink per day for women and two drinks for men should be the daily maximum
- Try to develop a routine where you slowly get ready for bed: a warm bath, dimming the lights, a herbal tea – all these are good to slow you down and help you get a better rest
If my snoring hasn’t improved, what else can I do?
If you’ve tried out these home remedies to reduce snoring and it hasn’t been successful, don’t give up just yet. “The good news is that detecting and treating those with excessive snoring or sleep apnoea can improve your heart condition and other clinical outcomes,” says Dr Garry Cussell, the owner of the Specialist Clinics of Australia, who first brought SleepTight to Australia in 2013. “The stress of snoring can trigger your body to respond in ways that may promote heart disease, like increased high blood pressure and reducing the amount of oxygen in your blood.” While it doesn’t cure snoring forever, it does relieve the amplitude of snoring.