What causes snoring and how can you stop? Bedtime questions answered by a sleep expert who busts common myths

What causes snoring and how can you stop? Bedtime questions answered by a sleep expert who busts common myths

Snoring can sometimes drive a wedge in between even the strongest of couples because when it comes to bedtime getting your beauty sleep is extremely important.

If your sleep is repeatedly broken thanks to a snoring bed partner then it can make or break a relationship if you can't find a solution that suits you both.

Snoring is actually an extremely common condition – in fact the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association revealed an incredible 20 million Brits are sleep-deprived because their partner snores.

According to sleep expert Natalie Armstrong who works with bed brand Sealy UK, she explains that the biggest factors that cause snoring is related to lifestyle.

Even sleeping position can have an affect on the noises people make while sleeping but there are ways to tackle the problem, you just have to be committed to the cause.

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What causes snoring?

Snoring is very common and can be caused by a wide range of factors. Often the biggest influences are related to your lifestyle, such as smoking, being overweight, and drinking alcohol before bed.

However, your sleeping position can also contribute to snoring. If you fall asleep on your back for example, your tongue can move to the back of your throat during the night, which can partially block the airflow to your lungs.

It’s worth noting that snoring can also be related to health conditions, such as sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition which causes your airway to close down whilst you sleep, preventing you from breathing for a short time, before you suddenly gasp for breath.

What actually happens when we snore?

Snoring is caused when the air travelling through your nose, mouth or throat is partially obstructed during the night, Natalie explains.

When you sleep, your muscles become more relaxed, which in turn can lead to the muscles in your mouth and throat to partially block your airway, causing the tissue to vibrate. This is what causes the well-recognised snoring sound.

The more restricted the airway becomes, the more deeply you’re forced to breathe, which then increases the vibration, and in turn, the volume of our snoring.

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Is snoring bad for your health?

In general, snoring is mostly nothing more than an annoyance for your partner. However, it could be a symptom of a more serious health condition, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

In cases of severe snoring, sufferers may also notice other health problems such as headaches, fatigue, and problems concentrating, which results from the decreased levels of oxygen in our blood.

Does snoring only affect men?

The biggest misconception about snoring and Sleep Apnea is that the conditions do not affect women.

In reality, while these conditions are more common amongst men, women are also able to suffer from the conditions, and it can become more common during the menopause.

Are there any solutions?

There are some easy ways you can try to limit snoring. Firstly, it’s best to avoid alcohol in the hours before bed. Alcohol has a sedative effect, which relaxes the jaw and throat muscles, making an obstruction in your airway more likely.

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Additionally, sleeping on your side rather than your back can help to reduce snoring, as this can prevent the base of your tongue collapsing into the back wall of your throat.

There are also some products you can buy which are specially designed to prevent snoring. Sleeping on a pillow which sufficiently supports your head and neck can help, as it can ensure your head is propped up enough to prevent your airways becoming blocked.

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Is there any other advice to help snorers?

A sleep diary is a great way to help you identify what factors in your life are helping and hindering your sleep and snoring.

You should make a note of everything – from your sleep times and how many times you’re waking up in the night, to the food and drink you’ve consumed throughout the day, your amount of screen time, and your day’s activity.

After keeping a record of your sleep for a month, you’ll be able to see any trends, including activities during the day that are impacting you at night.

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