Often, we take sleep for granted because it is a natural behaviour. But sleep is fundamental to our physical, mental, and social well-being, and the lack thereof can cause anything from drowsiness, stress and anxiety, to loss of concentration, sleep apnea and fatigue. World Sleep Day, celebrated on Friday 18 March is an opportunity to promote and create awareness for sleep health and its many benefits.
As trivial as it may sound for some, snoring can have a hugely negative impact on your quality of sleep and your long term health but is often something that can be improved or even resolved.
What is a snore?
Snoring is the hoarse or harsh sound that occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. Nearly everyone snores now and then, but for some people it can be a chronic problem. It occurs during the third and fourth stages of sleep, when you are at the peak of calmness. This vibration can reach 50 decibels, the noise of a hair dryer, sometimes reaching 100 decibels, the noise of a vacuum cleaner.
The causes of snoring
An unhealthy lifestyle, sleeping with a stuffy nose, or being overweight are some of the straightforward culprits of snoring. Tobacco is another culprit, causing inflammation of the airways and preventing air from circulating properly. As for alcohol, which can promote sleep, it alters the good functioning of the blood system and causes micro-awakenings which degrade the quality of sleep. In addition, taking sleeping pills again contributes to greater relaxation of throat muscles. For women, during menopause, there is a decrease in the production of estrogen which plays an important role in tone muscle and skin elasticity. The airways then become looser and bulkier, thus increasing the risk of snoring. According to Bianca Leonard, Marketing Manager for air treatment specialists, Solenco, a lesser known, but serious culprit of snoring is an overheated room, or ambient air that is too dry.
Leonard says it may seem obvious that changing one’s lifestyle, eating healthy light evening meals, and having plenty of physical activity can reduce snoring, but it isn’t always that simple. Serial snorers often turn to saline sprays or “anti-snoring” sprays, used to lubricate the nose or throat and to facilitate the passage of air. “Sleeping in the right position can also make a difference,” says Leonard. “The worst position is sleeping on your back, but placing bulging pillows in the middle of the bed to help stay sleeping on your side may do wonders for you or your partner.”
To rectify dry air, and the terrible midnight or morning dry mouth, Leonard recommends investing in a humidifier, which will add moisture to the ambient air, and help prevent snoring. It has the added benefits of protecting you from chapped lips, dry skin, itchy eyes, nose and throat, and is a great addition to a beauty or skincare regime. “Look for a two-in-one device that purifies the air and diffuses a pleasant mist,” says Leonard. Meaco’s Deluxe 202 Humidifier and Air Purifier provides your home with healthy humid air. The water inside the unit that provides moisture is sterilised by an ultraviolet lamp prior to humidification. Moreover, a combined HEPA and charcoal filter ensures that the air is completely sanitised before you breathe it in. “This gentle mist is a valuable aid in remedying snoring and an added built-in aromatic diffuser allows you to infuse your favourite scents and essences for better sleeping, “ says Leonard.
Whether you’re a snorer yourself, or you share your nights with a snorer, it’s worth looking into ways that you can achieve better sleep at night for better long-term health.