Snoring is often laughed off as an annoying night-time pastime, however there are hidden health consequences you need to be aware of.
Snoring is a primary indicator to deeper underlying health conditions, and in itself often leads to deeper health concerns. With a little attention and a few tricks you can prevent snoring and enjoy the health benefits that come with a sound night’s sleep.
Impacts of snoring
Essentially, snoring creates oxygen deprivation in the blood. Normal blood oxygenation ranges from 94% to 98% and can easily be measured via a pulse oximeter. Oxygen saturation levels are indicative of cardiovascular health and a general marker of wellbeing. Snoring results in blood oxygenation levels dropping to 80% or less, which as you can imagine can have serious health concerns and is the primary reason for sleep apnea.
Research shows that loud snorers are more likely to suffer from:
- Elevated blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Reduced productivity
- Relationship impacts
- And even more likely to cause accidents.
In fact, sufferers of sleep apnea, which results from snoring, are 2x as likely to suffer from heart attacks and heart disease.
"Snorers also have a 25% increased risk of having a stroke."
Snoring can have serious implications for your health; however, it is not as simple as simply correcting the snoring. To treat snoring correctly, we need to delve into the causes of snoring and understand that chronic snoring is a compounding factor to an already existing internal health imbalance. Let’s explore a checklist of factors you need to consider/remedy to stop the snoring habit.
Causes of snoring
The most common cause of simple snoring is mouth breathing. The concept of “correct” breathing stems back for thousands of years, with monks advocating breath practices and breathing exclusively through the nose. Nose breathing maintains blood oxygen saturation levels not only at night but throughout the day. Allergy and hay fever sufferers are often chronic mouth breathers, and this has a compounding impact on their health…one being snoring.
A strange effect happens when your mouth breathes. The nasal passages close in an effort to regulate oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Ironically, the more you breathe, the lower the levels of blood oxygenation. There is a complex mechanism the body implements which involves maintain blood pH and the amount you breath and quality of breathing plays a critical role. I will explore how you can become a nasal breather later in the treatment guide.
Allergies, sinusitis, and mould
Chronic and even seasonal allergies are one of the most common causes of mouth breathing, which effectively has the same impacts on health as snoring. Of course, it also increases the likelihood of snoring significantly. Apart from mucus production and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, there is another reason why your nasal passages close, triggering mouth breathing.
Allergies cause a small increase in heart rate. This small increase usually coincides with a marginal increase in breathing rate. This small increase causes the nasal passages to close further. So, the combination of both usually leads to allergy and sinusitis, mouth breathing, and consequently snoring—particularly in children. We will explore later how to do a small test to demonstrate how you can open your nasal passages, even in the most chronic allergies or flu.
Allergies and sinusitis are often triggered from deeper internal health issues. Working on digestive health and creating a diverse microbiome (beneficial bacteria in the digestive system) is one of the most important treatment of allergies along with avoiding the offending allergen. Reducing the inflammation response is also important. Treating underlying allergies and sinusitis often requires the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Our online clinic can be a good option if you need a good treatment plan.
Sleeping position does have a large impact on your airways and snoring patterns. The ideal sleeping position is on your left side and slightly elevated if possible. This allows the airways to remain open without obstruction. Sleeping on your back is the worst position, as your mouth will automatically open, and you will start mouth breathing. This leads to reduced oxygen saturation, the body starts to labour, and snoring results.
Sleep and bed hygiene
Creating the ideal sleeping environment is not only important for general sleep. It has an impact on whether you snore or not. Clean cotton sheets free from dust and fragrances will reduce the likelihood of allergies. Low allergen pillows is also another consideration. A natural flow of fresh air is important, and placing some plants in the bedroom is also another good idea to improve air quality. Ensure the sleep environment is free from noise, electronic devices, and artificial light. All these tips contribute to a healthy sleep environment and encourages better quality sleep, which in turn reduces the likelihood of snoring.
Poor sleep habits eventually lead to short term periods of deep sleep where snoring is more likely to occur.
Alcohol and smoking
Alcohol and smoking are both well-known and common causes of snoring. If you are a chronic snorer, then you will need to reconsider both these habits for long- term success in reducing snoring and reducing the chances of developing the serious health concerns mentioned above.
Consuming sugar-laden desserts before bed will contribute to a restless nights' sleep. Restless sleep eventually leads to the body going into deep sleep cycles for shorter periods, which results in an increased chance of snoring.
Gaining weight leads to compression of the airways. One of the most common causes of snoring is weight gain, and weight gain is symptomatic of other imbalances. Weight gain can be a difficult and complex task, however, we have a range of options you could consider for healthy and sustainable weight loss.
In certain cases there are structural issues within the upper respiratory tract which should be further investigated and may need surgical intervention to correct.
As you can see, many factors can contribute to snoring. Snoring can be indicative of other internal health situations which need correcting. The following list are my suggestions to implement to reduce the likelihood of snoring.1: Stop mouth breathing
The easiest and best way to do this at night is by taping the mouth shut with surgical tape. A small piece of tape 20mm wide and 40 mm long, taped longways from the nose to the chin will prevent the mouth opening during sleep, and is easily removed if needed. This simple method will also prevent dehydration during sleep, reduce the need to urinate at night and prevent many cases of snoring.
2: Practice breathing methods before sleep
Nadi Shodhana is a simple and effective way to improve your oxygen balance during the day and induces a greater sense of relaxation before sleep.
3: Sleep on your left side
Train your body to sleep primarily on your left side. This will also aid your digestion and result in better sleep generally. Consciously turn on your left side if you find yourself on your back, or even ask your partner to gently wake you when you roll onto your back.
4: Lose some weight and avoid alcohol, sugar and smoking
As a general rule, the healthier your diet and lifestyle, the less likely you are to snore. You will also lose weight with a well-balanced and healthy diet. We have a free 8-Week Program which will help you to lose some weight, avoid processed foods and enhance your overall health and vitality.
5: Do a sleep audit
Audit your bedroom to see how healthy and conducive it is to a good night’s sleep. Read our article on healthy sleep habits to ensure your approach to sleep and sleep environment are ideal. Sleep is the most important factor that contributes towards wellbeing. You can read the article here.
6: Treat allergies, hay fever and sinusitis
Our online clinic can support you through getting to the cause of allergies, hay fever and sinusitis. Even with these conditions, you can encourage your nasal passages to open via practicing air starvation breathing methods. Holding your breath and going to the point of air starvation will open even the most blocked nasal passages. It may take up to 5 minutes but eventually the nasal passages will open and demonstrates you have been over-breathing.