Better sleep - Better life!
Snoring & Sleep apnoea -
Causes - Self-care - Treatment
• Snoring sounds: Vibration, tissues in the upper airways vibrating.
• Social snoring: Snoring without interrupted breathing or breathing interrupted (apnoeas) fewer than five times an hour while sleeping. Social snoring can eventually develop into obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome, which is classed as a disease and requires treatment.
• Normal status - Fewer than five apnoeas an hour while sleeping.
• Mild sleep apnoea - 5 –15 apnoeas an hour while sleeping.
• Moderate sleep apnoea - 16–30 apnoeas an hour while sleeping.
• Severe sleep apnoea - 30 or more apnoeas an hour while sleeping.
There is no universal product on the market that can solve everyone’s snoring problems. The cause and the extent depend on anatomy, weight, lifestyle, age and how long the patient has been snoring. Since the causes vary considerably, a trial and error method needs to be used to see how well each treatment works.
Snoring is caused by the tissue in the upper airways vibrating. When you fall asleep, your muscles relax. The throat consists of very soft tissue, and when the muscles are relaxed, this affects the airways. The walls of the throat become relaxed, the tongue falls backwards and the soft palate turns flaccid. If the throat is sufficiently constricted, the tissue begins to vibrate and you snore. These vibrations can occur high up in the nose, in the soft palate or behind the tongue, most often in combination.
Since the vibrations that occur during snoring often cause some swelling of the throat, you should try a new method or treatment for at least a couple of weeks before giving up. Another factor is that snoring can vary in intensity from one night to the next, depending on body position, nasal congestion, tiredness and alcohol consumption.
Snoring can lead to vibration damage in the throat, and the body attempts to heal the damaged tissue. This results in a vicious circle in which snoring causes damage and hampers the healing process, which in turn can cause problems with swallowing and sleep apnoea.
If you suspect that you are suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), with your breathing interrupted five or more times an hour while sleeping, ask to be referred to a sleep clinic for an investigation and effective treatment. Effective treatments are available in the form of CPAP/APAP with a full-face or nasal mask, or an apnoea mouth guard (mandibular advancement device) from your dentist. Many different masks and models of mask are available, so if one does not work, there are many others that might. Some medical device providers have showrooms.
Nose breathing: The nose purifies and humidifies the air we inhale, and regulates its temperature. This improves blood oxygen saturation levels and results in calmer sleep. If you have difficulties breathing through your nose, you should speak to your doctor. If necessary, they will refer you to an ear, nose and throat clinic.
CAUSES – EXAMPLES
1. Obesity. Fat on the outside means fat on the inside. Even minor weight loss can lead to an improvement.
2. Even people with a slim or average build can have fat pads lining the throat that cause snoring.
3. Large tongue, small lower jaw, large tonsils, large uvula, long soft palate, constricted nasal passage.
1. Overweight. Try to drop to a normal weight, although even minor weight loss can result in a significant improvement.
2. Smoking. Try to quit or cut down. Smokers have irritated mucus membranes and increased mucus production.
3. Alcohol. Note that you will snore more if you have been drinking alcohol, because it is a relaxant.
4. Sleeping pills. Calming or muscle-relaxing drugs worsen snoring.
SLEEPING POSITION – EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
1. Avoid sleeping on your back. The tongue tends to fall backwards and block the throat.
2. Avoid bending your neck forwards when sleeping. Feel how hard it is to breathe with your head tilted forwards.
3. Avoid sleeping with an open mouth. The tongue tends to fall backwards and block the throat. Blood oxygen saturation levels are lowered, and you wake less rested with a dry mouth and an increased risk of tooth decay.
4. Sleep on your side in a position similar to the recovery (semi-prone) position used in first aid. Try this on your bed: Stretch your neck backwards to breathe more easily, let your jaw jut forwards a little and keep your mouth closed.
Fully relax your entire body. Notice the freer airflow in this sleeping position.
OTHER SIMPLE ADVICE
1. As well as an apnoea mouth guard from your dentist, there are many other mouth guards – look into them. Visit your dentist to check your dental health.
2. Try a nasal dilator – there are different types for opening the nostrils.
3. Tape your mouth closed with a small piece of dermatologically friendly surgical tape, from the top lip down. Available from chemists.
4. Avoid turning onto your back, for example by wearing a backpack with soft items in it or by attaching a tennis ball to the back of a t-shirt.
HTA-Project "Medicinteknik för framtiden" (Medical Technology for the Future) – A collaboration between the Swedish Agency for Health Technology Assessment and Assessment of Social Services, the Swedish Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency, the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, the Swedish Management Network for Regional Procurement, The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Linköping University, the Swedish Medical Products Agency, Swedish Medtech and Vinnova.
Extract from 2.5:
• A diagnostic method can often have several application areas
• Users of a medical device method gradually improve their skill
• Outcomes can depend on the user’s skill in using a medical device