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We usually try to avoid contentious topics in our blog posts, for many different reasons, not least that we prefer not to raise people’s blood pressure first thing in the morning (!). Having said that, this week, we’re going to break this particular rule. It’s one of those things that most people will say definitely doesn’t apply to them (!), although other members of their household may say otherwise… 
So, what are we going to talk about this week? 
While it may be the subject of many jokes, snoring is far from a laughing matter for those concerned, with broken or disturbed nights being just the start. With it estimated that 25% of people snore regularly, and 45% do so occasionally, there are a relatively few people who aren’t being affected in some way or other. Whether snoring themselves – not that they do (!) – or being “treated” to all the sound effects, to put it politely… 
So, let’s start with the obvious question. 
Where does all that noise come from? 
Well, quite simply, snoring is the sound of obstructed breathing. Of air not moving smoothly through the Nose or Mouth then into the Trachea – Windpipe – and Bronchi down to the Lungs. And, as this happens each time a breath is taken, it’s easy to see how snoring seems to go on and on and on… 
The reason it occurs when we’re sleeping can be put down to two different factors. The first is all about body position. During sleep we’re in a prone position, rather than vertical, so the air simply doesn’t flow so smoothly down to the Lungs. The second is due to physical changes as we sleep. As we go into deeper sleep, our body and tissues relax which, again, affects the smooth flow of air down to the Lungs. And it’s not just the Nose and Mouth which are affected, but the Soft Palate and Tonsils at the back of the Mouth as well as the Trachea and Bronchi down to the Lungs. 
Now on to the million dollar – and most contentious – question. 
Why do some people snore and not others? 
Well, again, there are many different reasons why people snore. The simplest is congestion from a Cold or Sinus infection or swollen Tonsils. So, in these cases, it should only occur for a few days and then resolve itself. Allergies or Asthma are other common causes, as are Nasal Polyps, non cancerous growths in the Nose. 
Snoring is also more likely to occur in those who are overweight / obese with the excess weight impacting on the smooth flow of air down to the Lungs. Not surprisingly, it’s also linked to smoking – and, yes, that includes “e” cigarettes – due to the damage to tissues caused by the smoke. Talking of vices (!), it’s also linked to alcohol and drug misuse as, again, they both cause a relaxation in tissue tone. 
Finally, snoring is also more likely to occur in older men and women after Menopause, both associated with tissues losing their tone as part of the ageing process. And, we’d probably better stop there… 
Snoring is linked to many other health concerns. These include Cardiovascular Diseases such as High Blood Pressure, Heart Attacks and Strokes as well increased risks of Diabetes, Underactive Thyroid and accidents from reduced concentration due to disturbed sleep. Not forgetting all the mental / emotional effects of disturbed sleep including low spirits, Depression and poor concentration. 
It’s also linked to Sleep Apnoea, which is becoming much more common and an increasing concern.  
If you haven’t heard of it before, Sleep Apnoea is a form of irregular breathing. Loud snores are followed by a pause in breathing as the breath is held and, then, snorts and gasps when a breath is finally taken. This pattern may be repeated many times every hour, leading to disturbed sleep as the Brain jolts the body out of deep sleep as oxygen levels fall, to ensure a breath is taken. At the same time, adrenaline is released – after all, it is a life or death situation to the body – which further affects sleep quality. 
Aside from comments from those around you (!) how do you know if snoring or Sleep Apnoea may be affecting you? Here are a few things to look out for: 
• Frequent waking during the night, particularly with a dry Mouth or feeling bunged up 
• Feeling tired on waking 
• Morning, “hung over” type Headaches 
• Poor concentration and feelings of drowsiness 
• Raised blood pressure 
So, now on to the important bit. 
What can be done to help – not to mention those in the immediate vicinity (!) 
Sleeping on the side, rather than the back, as well as raising the head of the bed can all help. And this doesn’t mean sleeping on an extra pillow, which only makes matters worse. Keeping the bedroom cooler – open that window (!) – can also make a difference as overheating at night tends to make any breathing issue worse. Having a regular bedtime and sleep routine can also help improve sleep quality and length. 
Regular exercise will help, as it makes the Lungs – and Respiratory System as a whole – work more efficiently. 
With excess weight playing a large part in snoring – no pun intended (!) – addressing this issue is important. The good news is there are many other health benefits from losing a little weight, not to mention improving the quality of day to day life. Hurrah! 
And, while many people often don’t want to hear it, similar comments apply to smoking and drinking too. 
Finally, with poor posture being linked to snoring and Sleep Apnoea, it’s always worth having this checked to see if it’s playing a part. 
Good sleep is something we take for granted, that is until we don’t have it… 
As always, the choice is yours. 
Photograph by unknown author 
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