Sleep awareness is on the rise. Maybe you’ve noticed the recent influx of products developed to capitalize on helping you get a good night’s sleep or address your sleep issues? One major sleep issue these products claim to address is snoring. Many people snore, but not everyone is taking snoring seriously, even though they should.
Some of the tools and advice for snoring are useful, others are not. Even worse, much of the information about snoring; what snoring is and what snoring means, is woefully inaccurate or under-represents the seriousness. If you snore, this guide to long-term relief will help you make decisions about when and how to treat snoring that will have a long-term positive impact on your health.
We’re including a few of those tools below to help you decide if they’re worth using, or if you need to seek out a sleep specialist to treat your snoring.
A sleep doctor or sleep specialist can identify when snoring indicates obstructive sleep apnea. Many of the tools promoted today to prevent snoring don’t address this life-threatening issue.
The truth is that snoring is much more than a bedtime inconvenience that can be resolved with a quick fix. Certain types of snoring can be reduced, but all snoring is an indication of a blocked airway. In most cases, it’s a serious warning sign that your overall health is at risk and can lead to significant health complications if not detected early and treated properly.
If you let sleep apnea go untreated by a professional, your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, and Alzheimer’s increase significantly. Are you ready to start taking snoring seriously?
Here are 3 things you need to know:
1. Distinguish Short-Term Improvements from Serious Solutions
There are a lot of reported snoring remedies on the market today. As awareness increases so do the supposed solutions to this age-old and common problem. In many cases, the “solutions” are helpful, even if they don’t actually cure snoring.
Side Sleeper Pillows
Snorers are often advised to sleep on their side to help open up the airway. The well-known “trick” of using side-sleeper pillows to reduce snoring may help alleviate the issue, but switching your sleep position won’t entirely solve the problem.
Side sleeping, as opposed to back sleeping, will help to open up the airway. It may also help lessen snoring, but it’s a mere bandaid to what is potentially a much bigger health problem.
For many, the underlying cause of snoring is obstructive sleep apnea. Side sleeper pillows don’t treat sleep apnea.
Similar to a side sleeper pillow’s ability to help partially alleviate snoring, snoring apps have their benefits. An app like SnoreLab can, in fact, help increase initial awareness of the issue.
SnoreLab does this by detecting and recording sleeping sounds. This is especially useful if you don’t have a bed partner to give you shove during the night or tell you the next morning how often your snoring kept them awake.
What a snoring app like this doesn’t do is treat or diagnose. It can help you determine if you snore, how often you snore, and how loud you snore which more importantly will inform you if you should seek out a sleep specialist for diagnosis of sleep apnea.
Nothing can or should replace professional diagnosis.
A popular over-the-counter external nasal dilator, Breath Right, helps keep nasal passages open a night. The strips are placed on the outside of the nose. They pull the sides and nostrils open and can help ease breathing through the nose.
Some research indicates nasal dilators like Breath Right can help reduce the intensity and frequency of snoring. This is typically the case if an obstruction occurs in the nose, whether it’s from a deviated septum or congestions from allergies or the common cold.
When congested and only a small amount of air enters through the nasal passages, the air becomes turbulent. This ultimately causes the tissues that line the throat to vibrate. That vibration creates the sound of snoring. When you increase the amount of air entering the nasal passages you reduce the turbulent airflow. This, in turn, reduces the frequency and volume of the snoring.
Although studies exist suggesting nasal dilators lessen snoring symptoms, extensive reviews found there is no improvement with sleep apnea. So although nasal strips may reduce snoring as a symptom, they can also provide an inaccurate or false belief that they’re an effective therapy treatment for sleep apnea which often accompanies snoring.
You don’t have to say “good night” to sleep-related snoring products altogether. There are benefits associated with many of the products, but shouldn’t be mistaken as a snoring remedy. You should always prioritize expert treatment at the first sign of a potential health issue.
2. Understand Your Snoring Style
If you think that your snoring isn’t serious enough to seek professional treatment, think again. All snoring has health implications, regardless of how often you snore or how loud you snore.
Infrequent, Soft Snoring Sounds
If your snoring is infrequent with soft snoring sounds that often arise after drinking alcohol or when suffering from allergies or illness, it still signals a blocked airway. Certain behavioral changes can offer relief in these cases, such as avoiding alcohol or losing excess weight. You should also consult with a sleep specialist, who can provide more guidance on your specific situation.
Frequent Snoring That Happens 3+ Nights a Week
If your snoring is more frequent, occurring three or more nights a week, you may notice mild to moderate difficulty breathing when you sleep, and during the day you might find yourself feeling drowsy or tired during the day. Contact a sleep specialist at this stage to reduce the risk of illness and further complications.
Loud, Near Nightly Snoring
Snoring is a regular occurrence. Your snoring is loud, and might even be heard down the hallway. Your blocked airway may lead you to stop breathing for brief periods of time, causing you to choke or gasp for air and wake yourself up. Here, it’s especially important to contact a sleep center immediately for potential diagnosis and treatment.
Bottom line? Even seemingly small cases of snoring can be a sign of a much larger issue. Before reverting to using only self-help products, seek a professional who can conduct a credible analysis and share preventive measures that you can trust.
3. Treatment Options – Approved by Sleep Professionals
If snoring is disrupting your shut-eye, and you’re ready to take your snoring seriously, reach out for professional help. Certain supplements and gadgets may be helpful in offering temporary relief, however, it’s important to remember that these resources won’t serve as a long-term solution. Only a sleep professional can accurately help you with your sleep apnea.
Snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, which can eventually progress to become a severe and life-threatening issue. Contact the Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee for an expert assessment and preventive treatments you can count on.
Our first step is evaluating your sleep. This may include a sleep study to monitor to screen for sleep disorders. Once the results are assessed, we will make appropriate recommendations and treatments. Treatments may include use of a CPAP machine or lifestyle changes.
Learn more about how we can help here.