National Stop Snoring Week is an annual event raising awareness for snoring and sleep quality. Snoring is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world but it is highly treatable. There are many reasons for snoring and the condition often worsens as people get older.

As air becomes trapped in the airways it is forced out as we breathe, causing vibrations in the soft tissues, such as tongue and nasal passages, which make a loud rhythmic noise that we call snoring. National Snoring Week is all about raising awareness for the methods of helping with the problem of snoring and encouraging everyone to seek a pleasant and restful night’s sleep.

The causes of snoring

As we breathe during our sleep, our passages in the nose and throat tend to constrict, making it more difficult for air to pass thorough and causing vibrations as we breathe. If we have a cold or sinus problem this also makes the issue worse. Over time the delicate lining of the nose and other tissues can become damaged and this again leads to a worsening snoring condition. There are some elevated risk factors in snoring, such as being overweight, alcohol consumption and smoking.

Obstructive sleep apnoea

One disruptive problem linked with snoring is sleep apnoea, which is when a person’s airways become temporarily blocked which makes them unable to breathe. If the problem persists for over 10 seconds this is called obstructive sleep apnoea, where the soft tissues actually collapse enough to block the air flow. The person with OSA will snore loudly and may gasp and snort during their sleep as they struggle for air. Their sleep quality will be severely affected as they cannot stay in a state of deep sleep for long periods and will usually be woken regularly throughout the night.

Preventing or curing the problem of snoring

Often simple lifestyle changes can dramatically improve sleep quality and reduce or stop episodes of snoring. Losing weight if you are overweight, stopping smoking, cutting down on alcohol consumption, especially close to bedtime, and taking regular exercise can all help to reduce incidences of snoring. It might also be a good idea to avoid sleep on your back as most people find this causes snoring to become worse. Some people even wear something inside their night shirt to prevent them rolling onto their backs during the night.

There are a number of anti-snoring devices that are well worth a try if lifestyle changes do not help the issue. Nasal sprays can help to widen the nasal passages temporarily and ease breathing, nasal strips or nasal dilators help to widen the nasal passages by opening up the nostrils and allowing easier breathing. Depending on the area you snore from there are other devices that can be worn, such as oral devices to stop you opening your mouth or devices that prevent the tongue vibrating. If the problem is only mild then simply using ear plugs may be enough to solve the problem of disturbed sleep.

Improving sleep quality by other means

Sleep quality can be hugely affected by snoring and relationships can also suffer if one partner is prevented from sleeping soundly due to the other’s snoring. Sometimes snoring can be aggravated by simply feeling uncomfortable during the night. This could be due to the temperature being too high or too low, bright lights or even uncomfortable bedding which is too hard or too soft. One of the most important areas of sleep that can be changed easily is your sleep clothing.

An important factor in enjoying a quality night’s sleep is to wear comfortable and breathable night clothes, such as a nightie, night shirt or light pajamas. Bonmarche stocks a wide selection of clothing suitable for sleep wear in tasteful colours and attractive patterns, whatever the temperature. Wearing soft and comfy clothing while you sleep keeps you warm and cosy while allowing your skin to breathe.

The temperature of your bedroom should be cool rather than warm, while light should be kept to a minimum. Some people like to use blackout blinds to prevent any light coming into the room, especially if they are night workers. The bedroom should be quiet and the use of technology kept to a minimum towards bedtime. It has been shown that people who use mobile phones, iPads or other gadgets and technological devices in bed experience increases in sleep disturbance. The light from the gadgets and the increase in intense brain stimulation means your body is prevented from relaxing sufficiently.

Creating a bedtime routine

One of the most important elements of having a restful night’s sleep is creating a bedtime routine. Many people like to eat or drink something milky before bed, take a warm bath or read. These relaxing activities help the body prepare itself for sleep. With these activities you can give your body the best chance of falling asleep quickly when the time comes, while the risk of snoring will be reduced. If all else fails, using one of the snoring devices may be the best way to eliminate snoring, while National Stop Snoring Week is the ideal time to try out these methods and improve your sleep quality.

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