Do you know why you snore – and what will best prevent it?

Do you find that your partner is often telling you that you woke him or her up with your snoring? For some people it just happens when they have a cold or a blocked nose but others will find that it happens on a regular basis.

Why do I snore?

Snoring happens for all sorts of reasons, and is closely linked to other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart attack and stroke. The good news is that you can eliminate the problem, or at least minimise it, and you will both benefit. So it’s not something that your partner needs to have to learn to deal with and as a result you’ll both get a good night’s sleep and feel rested in the mornings, and you’ll be able to do that without either of you having to sleep in separate rooms. If you live alone you may not be aware that you snore although snoring often wakes you without you realising why. Even if it your snoring doesn’t wake you up, you will still get a poor night’s sleep because your body fails to get all the oxygen it needs.

The first thing to do is understand why you snore and often there’s not just one reason. Snoring occurs when the air can’t move through the throat and nose freely during sleep. The air makes the tissues around these areas vibrate, and the ‘snoring’ sound results.  Some people are just more prone to snoring than others because of their build. For example, the passages in a man are much smaller than those in a woman and can mean men are more likely to snore because of it.

Being overweight is one of the most common reasons for snoring. When you carry excess weight in your body, it is usually everywhere and even internal. This means your nose and throat end up with fatty tissue blocking the pathway for the air. Also, if you’re on medication, or you smoke or drink, you may find that snoring is more of an issue. These three factors all lead to muscles in the body relaxing and as they do so, they are more likely to vibrate when air passes through.

Your sleep position can also have a lot to do with your snoring. When you sleep on your back, your tongue relaxes to the back of your throat, causing the airways to become blocked.

Your age will also cause an issue for snoring as when you get older; your throat becomes narrower. There’s not much you can do about aging, but you can help to prevent snoring becoming a major issue over the years. It’s all about working on your lifestyle and changing your bedtime routines to help ease the air passing through and you can also get medically approved help in the meantime or alongside these changes happening.

It may be a more serious issue if it’s something called obstructive sleep apnoea – often called OSA. Sleep apnoea and snoring sound similar but are two very different problems. OSA can be extremely dangerous, and may need medical attention. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night because of your snoring, it could be that apnoea is really the issue.

OSA occurs when the nose and throat are obstructed. The body wakes itself up time after time during the night so that you can breathe again, and you may also make choking sounds as you do so. If you do suffer from extreme fatigue during the day, it is likely that it is sleep apnoea more than snoring. The good news is you can do something about this, too.

There are three quite different medically recognised types of snorer and the solution for each of these is equally different:

  • Those who snore nasally due to weak nostrils (nasal snorer) and for this it’s important to keep the nostrils open using a nasal dilator, a small cone-like item that will keep the nasal air passages open at night.
  • Those who snore with their mouth open (mouth snorer) will benefit from using a Chin Support Strap which helps the mouth stay closed and do so in a comfortable way that brings instant results. This is the most widely used method and is medically recommended.
  • Those who snore because of weakness in the tongue and surrounding tissues (tongue snorer) have a requirement to use a mouthpiece, or oral appliance, which looks like a sports mouth guard. These mould to the shape of your dental profile and bring the jaw forward slightly which opens the airway and stops you snoring. SleepPro offer a wide choice of mouthpieces that, unlike others, are fully NHS Approved. Specialist mouthpieces are available for those with mild to moderate sleep apnoea and these are custom-fitted.

There’s no need to snore and damage your health irrevocably and permanently. For a very small price you’ll save yourself from paying a much bigger price in the longer term.

John Redfern

Sleep disorders cost Australia over $5 billion per year and cause deaths

A study of the economic impact of sleep disorders demonstrates financial costs to Australia of $5.1 billion per year. This comprises $270 million for health care costs for the conditions themselves, $540 million for care of associated medical conditions attributable to sleep disorders, and about $4.3 billion largely attributable to associated productivity losses and non-medical costs resulting from sleep loss-related accidents. Loss of life quality added a substantial further non-financial cost.

Snoring and Apnoea

Poor sleep is known to impart a significant personal and societal burden, and as a result it is important to have accurate estimates of its causes, prevalence, and the resultant costs, so as to better inform those who are creating the future health policy.

A recent evaluation of the sleep habits of Australians demonstrates that frequent sleep difficulties (initiating and maintaining sleep, and experiencing inadequate sleep), daytime fatigue, sleepiness and irritability are highly prevalent and range from 20%–35%. Frequent was defined as ‘daily or near daily’. These difficulties were found to be generally more prevalent among females, with the exception of snoring and similarly related difficulties. While about half of these problems are likely to be attributable to specific types of sleep disorder such as snoring and sleep apnea, the balance appears attributable to poor sleep habits or choices that limit sleep opportunity.

While large, these costs were assessed for those with sleep disorders alone.

Additional costs relating to inadequate sleep from poor sleep habits in people without sleep disorders were not considered. Based on the high prevalence of such problems and the known impacts of sleep loss in all its forms on health, productivity and safety, it is likely that these poor sleep habits would add substantially to these costs and probably double it.

Sleep is a basic and necessary biological process that demands to be satisfied but it is only recently that we have begun to understand the scale of the health and social consequences of insufficient sleep and associated sleep disorders such as snoring and OSA.

Sleep loss from these problems is associated with disturbances in cognitive and psychomotor function including mood, thinking, concentration, memory, learning, vigilance and reaction times. These disturbances have adverse effects on wellbeing, productivity, and safety. Insufficient sleep is also known to be a direct contributor to injury and death from motor vehicle and workplace accidents.

In addition, strong connections have been demonstrated between shortened sleep and a range of health problems including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and total mortality risk.

The Australian Sleep Health Foundation commissioned this extensive work and the results illustrate that a considerable proportion of Australians report frequent sleeping difficulties:

  • 20% of respondents had frequent difficulty falling asleep, which was more prevalent among females and younger age groups.
  • Frequent waking during the night was reported by 35% overall, again more commonly among females but increasing with age.
  • Thirty-five per cent reported waking unrefreshed in the mornings
  • 24% reported inadequate sleep at any time
  • 22% complained of daytime sleepiness, fatigue and irritability

Snoring was widely reported by almost half those interviewed as a reason for disturbed nights, with poor quality sleep and daytime tiredness resulting for those disturbed. And in its worst most dangerous form many cases of sleep apnoea were recognized. Prevalence of sleep apnoea was derived by determining the proportion of respondents who snored loudly at least a few times a week and had observed breathing pauses during sleep at least a few times a month. An overall prevalence of 4.9% was noted, but in this case, prevalence was higher among males (6.4%) than females (3.6%).

The costs are massive whichever way examined, and individuals can do much on their own to reduce and even prevent the problem. As well as lifestyle solutions it is easy to acquire oral appliances and chin straps that not only stop snoring but also prevent the development of sleep apnoea, not just resulting in refreshing sleep, but improved health, and a longer life.

John Redfern

What is the real cost to you of sleep apnoea – treated or untreated?

There are several ways in which this question can be interpreted but the answer is always the same one if you’re considering the possible health repercussions, and that answer is high, but if it’s a financial question then the cost can vary incredibly.

Apnea the true cost

There are estimated to be over 100 million OSA sufferers throughout the world where data is recorded, but the real number is likely to be much, much higher than this. Because so many cases of sleep apnoea go untreated – an estimated 90% – accurate figures aren’t really known.

The most recent official figures that have been published give the figures of known OSA patients as follows. The USA has 18 million apnoea patients, Australia has just about two million, and the UK approximately three million. However in all these countries the figures are increasing rapidly and this is mostly due to increasing obesity problems. They are also an understatement of the real number as many cases simply aren’t reported and go untreated.

The figures for snoring are of course much higher, and on the increase for both sexes, creating similar heath dangers if left to develop and deteriorate.

An overnight Sleep Test in one form or another is available at a price in order to fully evaluate the severity of the condition, but the starting point for most people is their partner, who through close observation will soon notice whether or not the key symptoms exist.

As a partner’s sleep is often disturbed this is rarely a problem, but they often need to convince their partner that the problem really exists, as it’s common for them to be in denial. Tests can be paid for, mostly in a specialist Sleep Clinic, but more Home Testing equipment is now becoming available, and some in app form for your Smartphone. However it’s a good start for you to start by recording their disturbed sleep and show it to them as a first step.

OSA occurs when the tongue and other soft tissues relax or narrow for one reason or another during sleep and block the airway. The brain senses a problem and wakes the body up just long enough to take a breath. This can happen hundreds of times in the night resulting in poor unprofitable sleep. The ‘choking’ awakenings are accompanied by gasping for breath, and then followed by a return to snoring, and these are clear to observe.

Scores of medical reports now clearly state that early recognition and treatment of sleep apnoea is important, as it may be associated with:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Increased risk of motor vehicle accidents

Historically, treatment has been the use of a pump-driven breathing device that forced air through a face mask, called CPAP, but this is now most often reserved for very severe cases only, as both the cost and the rejection rates are extremely high due to the many perceived disadvantages. New style, more expensive, oral appliances have taken its place, and these are ones that are laboratory made to fit the shape of the person’s dental profile.

They have been thoroughly tested by the UK’s leading NHS Sleep Clinic at the world-renowned Papworth Hospital and are now proposed by them in published documentation as the first recommendation for the prevention of both snoring and sleep apnoea, particularly the UK made SleepPro Custom, that clearly headed the league of all the appliances that were tested.

The cost of the SleepPro Custom was also found to be one that was equally beneficial as it was affordable to all – and this was deemed very important due to the widespread nature of OSA.

A similar Dentally recommended oral appliance in the USA could eventually cost well in excess of USD $3,000 including the sleep testing, and even new products that have recently been launched into the North American market from Australia state all-inclusive prices from USD $1.390 to USD $1,790.

The SleepPro Custom will be tailored to your own dental profile and made in a UK Dental laboratory for a price of £154.99 or USD $220. This is a very small price to pay for a medically proven solution that can not only improve your life but also extend it considerably.

John Redfern

Lack of sleep and regular snoring linked to poorer breast cancer survival


A new study from the USA reports that short sleep duration combined with frequent snoring reported prior to cancer diagnosis may influence subsequent breast cancer survival.

Breast cancer and sleep problems

Results show that women who typically slept less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night and were frequent snorers in the years before their cancer diagnosis experienced a poorer cancer prognosis.

The findings were especially robust for women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer patients who reported sleeping 6 hours or less per night and snoring 5 or more nights per week before their diagnosis were 2 times more likely to die from breast cancer (hazard ratio = 2.14) than patients who reported sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night and rarely snored.

The study results are published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

In a week where scientists have revealed extensive data on the world’s sleeping patterns, leading researchers have told the BBC that society has become “supremely arrogant” in ignoring the importance of sleep. They say people and governments really need to take the problem seriously.

The body clock drives huge changes in the human body. Cancer, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, infections and obesity have all been linked to reduced sleep. It alters alertness, mood, physical strength and even the risk of a heart attack in a daily rhythm.

Sleep experts worldwide, including many who are based in the UK, endorse these statements. They include Dr Akhilesh Reddy, from the University of Cambridge, who said that the body clock influences every biological process in the human body and the health consequences of living against the clock were “pretty clear cut”, particularly in the case of breast cancer.

But the pressures of work and social lives mean many people cut their sleep during the week and catch up at the weekend. Researchers are investigating whether there is a health impact.

The study, by a team at the University of Bristol in the UK and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, assessed “sleep debt” – a measure of the difference in the nightly hours asleep on weekdays and at the weekend.

“We found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance,” said Prof Shahrad Taheri from Weill Cornell. He added: “Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realised its metabolic consequences.

“Our findings suggest that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve their success.”

The study was funded by the UK’s Department of Health, where 10% of healthcare budgets are already spent on treating diabetes. Perhaps they’ll act on it accordingly.

Information on global sleep habits has been equally informative and it was clearly evident that there was a conflict between our desire to stay up late and our bodies urging us to get up in the morning.

Prof Daniel Forger, one of the researchers, said “Society is pushing us to stay up late, our body clocks are trying to get us up earlier, and in the middle the amount of sleep that we have is being sacrificed; that’s what we think is going on in global sleep crisis.

The study found people in Japan and Singapore had an average of seven hours and 24 minutes sleep while the people in the Netherlands had eight hours and 12 minutes. People in the UK averaged just under eight hours – a little less than the French. The study also showed women had about 30 minutes more per night in bed than men, particularly between the ages of 30 and 60.

The message to everyone is very evident.
Sleep enough – Stop Snoring – and don’t ignore the opinions of the experts.

John Redfern

The dangers of driving with sleep apnoea – and the legal situation

The most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea, and the most dangerous by far, is daytime drowsiness. This is accompanied when you sleep by heavy snoring, and choking sounds or gasping for breath on numerous occasions throughout the night. It’s a deadly problem to have.

OSA and drivong

Drowsy driving may result and this is defined as operating a motor vehicle while being cognitively impaired by lack of sleep. Leading Motoring Associations in the UK and USA state that drivers with untreated sleep apnoea pay less attention to the road, react more slowly when braking suddenly, and make bad driving decisions that may lead to an accident.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea is very common among middle-aged men, especially if they are overweight. Studies show that drivers with untreated OSA are five times more likely to be involved in road accidents with 25% of motorway or expressway accidents can be attributed to drowsiness. Most countries have had numerous examples in the headlines recently where this has caused tragedy both on the roads and on the rail systems.

In December 2014 a bin lorry careered out of control in a busy shopping street in Glasgow leading to the tragic death of six people. The accident inquiry into the incident has led to increased concern among doctors about their responsibility to disclose information about their patients to the DVLA.

A Doctor’s responsibility is to explain to the patient that they have a medical condition that may affect their ability to drive and that they have a legal obligation to inform the DVLA or DVA, and to stop driving if they are not having treatment for the problem. It is the driver’s legal responsibility to inform the authorities and it is a criminal offence for the driver to fail to do so.  The decision on whether the patient’s licence will be withdrawn rests with the DVLA or DVA and not the doctor.

Doctors in the UK have said they are anxious about disclosing information to the DVLA or DVA but have now been issued with a step-by-step approach by the General Medical Council approach that will allow them to deal with these difficult discussions more confidently. It runs as follows:

  1. Tell the patient to inform the Licensing Authority (DVLA)
  2. Assess the patient’s medical condition against required standards
  3. Try to persuade the patient to stop driving
  4. Only disclose the minimum information
  5. Keep detailed records

In Australia, NSW will soon have instant health checks for the 400,000 motorists who need to prove they are capable of driving. The checks are for elderly drivers who need to prove they can drive safely, heavy ­vehicle drivers, and motorists with epilepsy, sleep disorders and diabetes.

Doctors assess elderly drivers aged 75 or over each year to determine if their eyesight, motor function and attention is at a level where it is safe to drive. For holders of a class MC licence drivers have to be assessed at age 21 and then every 10 years, and after then at age 40 and then every five years

The state government will automate fitness-to-drive medical assessments, so GPs can send them to Roads and Maritime Services instantly. Roads Minister Duncan Gay said it meant doctors could instantly send applications to the RMS licence ­review unit, and elderly drivers would not be forced to queue at service centres or post offices to send application forms.

Although drinking while driving is a very serious problem, the deadliest habit is proving to be even more widespread: drowsy driving. In 2014, over 33 per cent of all U.S. drivers fell asleep behind the wheel of a car.

There are 42 drowsy drivers for every drunk driver on the road today.

In the USA however the greatest focus has been on commercial drivers, who are required to pass a health screening in order to drive. Regulators overhauled the system in 2014 and have disqualified roughly 70,000 truckers since then, out of some 8.5 million.

Treatment for OSA, bringing high restorative sleep, has been proved in research to overcome the problem. Oral appliances are approved and available for a very small cost and without any form of prescription so the solution is seen to be in the hands of those who wish to continue driving.

It brings a whole new meaning to the old phrase ‘Keep Death off the road’.

John Redfern

A good night’s sleep keeps you healthy – but snoring prevents it happening

Of late you must have noticed how doctors and healthcare professionals have given extra attention to the importance of undisturbed quality sleep. Increasing number of studies have linked sleep deprivation to serious health issues, ranging from high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, obesity, mood disorders, attention deficit disorder, foetal and childhood growth retardation, besides making one accident-prone in the car and at work.

stop snoring week

There’s much more than that however, so whether you are up until the early hours of the morning watching the shows on Netflix, or simply staying up late because there’s too much work to do, one thing’s for sure – your body’s taking the brunt of your actions. But why is sleep so important? Not getting enough shut-eye can lead to other bad results as well as health and here are just some of the problems with comments from the experts in each case.

You gain weight

If you’re looking to shave off those stubborn extra pounds then lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help. In fact, it does the very opposite says nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville, author of the Natural Health Bible for Women.

“People who are sleep-deprived have an increased appetite. Inadequate sleep lowers the levels of leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. At the same time it increases leels of grehlin – a hormone that increases food intake and plays a role in long-term regulation of body weight. Sleep deprivation makes weight loss harder because it causes your body to work against you.”

Your immune system is compromised

Lack of sleep is known to lower the body’s immune response. A recent study found reducing the amount of sleep time every night lowered the number of “natural killer cells” which are responsible for fighting off invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Nutritional therapist Geeta Sidhu-Robb, who is the founder of Nosh Detox, says “A lack of sleep can impair the body’s ability to fend off diseases and inflammation, which in turn, can cause us to catch more colds or slow down the processes of recovery. No sleep means your body doesn’t have time to build up its defence system – the antibodies and cells that attack viruses and unfriendly bacteria.”

Your stress levels rocket

Inadequate sleep can also affect your cortisol levels – the hormone that help us manage stress, and Sidhu-Robb adds “Lack of sleep increases stress which produces the hormone cortisol, and it can also reduce collagen in the skin, which is what keeps it looking young and provides elasticity.”

Stress and ageing skin is not a combination worth losing your sleep for.

Your heart weakens

During sleep, the heart powers down significantly – reducing both your blood pressure and the heart rate, which is important for the health of the organ. By not getting enough sleep, your heart might not have enough time to lower your blood pressure to necessary levels.

“Research shows that those who sleep five hours or less a night are twice as likely to suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease as those who sleep for seven hours or more,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville.

A study conducted by a team from Mount Sinai Hospital showed having less than five hours of sleep each night had an 83% increased risk of stroke compared to sleepers who got seven to eight hours of shut-eye.

Your brain becomes foggy

Sleep deprivation affects our ability to learn and retain new information and can lead to poor long and short-term memory, as well as poor decision-making. “When we sleep our body and brain don’t actually shut off – we have light sleep phases and deeper ones,” says Neil Robinson, Sealy UK‘s resident sleep expert. “While we sleep in the deeper phases, our brain stays busy, overseeing an internal maintenance schedule that keeps us running in top condition. This helps the body repair itself and build energy for the day ahead – our muscles and tissues recover, our immune system gets a boost and all the information we have absorbed during the day gets consolidated in our memory. Without enough hours of this type of restorative sleep, we won’t function, work, learn, create, and communicate at effective levels.”

Your skin starts to age

Sleep deprivation leads to inflammation that can lead to poor skin conditions such as dullness, dryness, spots and dark circles under the eyes, and It can also age your skin.

“We all know that we look and feel worse after a bad night’s sleep,” says Georgie Cleeve, founder of skincare company OSKIA. “There is a real biological reason why a bad night’s sleep can play havoc with your skin.

“When we sleep the brain produces a brilliant chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate, or ATP for short. It’s essentially our cell battery power and runs all our cellular processes throughout the day. So less sleep equals less ATP. And that means less collagen production.”

It’s Stop Snoring Week – Be sensible and act on it.

John Redfern

The dangers of snoring and sleep apnoea during pregnancy

The period of time between conception and birth is a critically important one for the lifetime health of the easily influenced growing human baby. During this 35-40 week pregnancy span an expectant mother must be in optimal health so that she can adequately supply her unborn child with the nutrients needed for healthy development, including oxygen.

Snoring during  pregnancy

Oxygen is a primary resource necessary to make a healthy baby possible and if oxygen is cut off from the baby, they are at risk for any number of health complications.

Snoring and sleep apnoea a common problem in pregnancy, and nearly 30% of all pregnant women experience a worsening of OSA during their pregnancy. However, OSA is not commonly assessed during routine prenatal care. In one study, although 32% of patients reported snoring, less than 3% of physicians and nurses asked about snoring during a prenatal visit.

According to findings presented by researchers to the Australian Sleep Association, 50% of pregnant women will develop snoring by their final trimester – bringing dangerous health problems for both mother and baby.

The 2 main factors causing this are related to Hormones and Weight gain.

Changes in hormone levels dilate blood vessels, and cause the mucous membrane to swell in the nose, causing congestion and a narrowing of your nasal passages that results in forcing you to breathe through your mouth as you sleep, with the outcomes being snoring.

“As you gain weight in pregnancy, your lungs have less space and also a build-up of fat in the neck tissues narrows your airways which can cause more throat breathing – in other words, snoring,” says Professor Advisor of Education for the Royal College of UK Midwives, Michelle Lyne. She adds, “If snoring began during pregnancy, then it will almost definitely stop soon after you’ve had the baby. Your hormones settle down and you lose the excess weight and fluid you’ve been carrying for 9 months – which are the main causes for starting to snore when you’re expecting”.

According to US scientists, chronic snoring may be a sign of breathing problems that could possibly affect your oxygen supply to the baby. However, chronic snoring refers to women who snore regularly and badly both before they get pregnant as well as during their pregnancy.

The study showed that a chronic snorer might be up to two thirds more likely to have a low birth-weight baby, and twice as likely to need a C-section. Chronic snoring can easily be treated,” says lead researcher, Dr Louise O’Brien, from the University of Michigan’s Sleep Disorders Centre.

Sleep apnoea is at epidemic proportions in many countries and has become increasingly common among pregnant women. Oxygen restriction places the intrauterine baby at risk for: growth restriction (IUGR), diabetes or a stillbirth. Sleep apnoea and pregnancy share a few similar symptoms, blurring the line between healthy and unhealthy body changes.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) during pregnancy presents significant potential risks to both the mother and her foetus.  Symptoms of OSA in pregnant women should not be ignored.

There are four things that make OSA during pregnancy unique:

  • It affects not just one but two patients – the mother and the foetus.
  •  Pregnancy itself is often associated with symptoms that might mimic OSA, including sleep disturbance and daytime fatigue
  •  Sleep apnoea can worsen as pregnancy progresses and changes in the condition can occur rapidly. OSA should always be diagnosed and treated promptly.
  •  OSA may be temporary, and in those cases it should end after the birth. Women diagnosed with OSA during pregnancy should be checked again following the birth as the problem with all its associated health dangers may continue undiagnosed otherwise.

Approximately 85% of adults who have sleep apnoea are undiagnosed but Sleep apnoea during pregnancy is something that can be treated and the harmful effects to the baby from lack of oxygen can most certainly be prevented. There is no reason for a mother or her baby to have insufficient access to oxygen. Instead of worrying if her baby is getting the nutrients needed for healthy development, an expectant mother can prepare for an exciting future.

John Redfern

“Laugh and the world laughs with you. Snore and you sleep alone…”

Those are the often-quoted words of Anthony Burgess, the novelist and composer, but despite clever sayings like that, and nearly endless jokes about snoring spouses, snoring is literally no laughing matter.

snoring keeps partners awake

Snoring, as we know, is that very annoying sound made by vibrations in the back of the throat or nose by someone who is probably deeply asleep. It is generally more common in men, in people who are overweight, or in those over the age of 50. But anyone can snore, including skinny young women and even babies and children.

Snoring may come and go, such as when the nose is stuffed up because of a cold or a seasonal allergy, and in this particular case it may be a little irritating to someone trying to sleep in the same room as well as to the snorer who may not be sleeping well. It all passes though as soon as they recover from their temporary condition, and generally, there is no harm done.

Chronic snoring, however, and by that I mean the kind that occurs every night and sometimes throughout the night, is often a sign of something much more sinister than the common cold. When the tissues at the back of the throat become so relaxed and loose during sleep that they vibrate loudly and incessantly, they are also blocking the free passage of air in and out of the lungs. Sometimes the tissues collapse completely or the tongue falls back against them and the breathing stops altogether.

It can stay that way for a minute, even more, and when this happens, the blood oxygen level falls and the brain begins to panic – it is suffocating!

The brain has to make a choice between breathing and sleeping and luckily, sleeping usually wins. The brain wakes up, the person may gasp, gurgle or choke, but they are quickly back asleep again and the snoring cycle begins anew. This can happen dozens, even hundreds of times during the night and the sleeper often has no recollection of any of it in the morning. All he or she knows is they are tired even after a full night of “sleep.” This is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.

It makes sense therefore that those with OSA may be fatigued during the day. That repeated life and death struggle to breathe through the night is not restful and the resulting daytime sleepiness can be dangerous.

In fact, a study presented to the Association of Professional Sleep Societies in June of 2015 revealed that people with sleep apnea are twice as likely to be involved in a workplace accident and 2.5 times more likely to be the driver in an automobile crash than those who do not have the sleep related breathing disorder.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, OSA affects 1 in every 15 people, representing a significant and growing public health concern. Those with sleep apnea are more susceptible to depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure and have been shown to be more likely to die from cancer than those without sleep apnea.

Sometimes in order to determine if someone has temporary snoring from another condition or has potentially perilous obstructive sleep apnea, an overnight sleep study may be done. However if you choke and gasp for breath in the night then your partner is sure to know.

Treatment for OSA can vary but the most common treatments used today are the CPAP machine and the mandibular advancement device.

A CPAP machine, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, is a computerized blower that supplies air pressure via a tube and face mask to hold the relaxed throat tissues open while the patient sleeps. Unfortunately for numerous reasons including discomfort the rejection levels are high.

A mandibular advancement device, or MAD, is a custom fitted oral device designed to hold the jaw forward at night. By locking the top and bottom teeth together, the lower jaw, and therefore the tongue, cannot slide back and block the throat when the wearer falls asleep.

Habitual snoring signals airway obstruction and has the potential for very serious long term physical and mental health problems such as diabetes, cancer, and major cardiovascular problems as well as cognitive disabilities such as early onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Basically, snoring will ruin your health unless you do something about it.

John Redfern.