Shake, rattle and roll over

20 May 2011 by Phillip Hodson
Why do men snore more than women? Why is it worse after drinking? Philip Hodson has the answers and some treatments worth trying.  There are various ways to combat snoring, which can be caused by lying on your back.

The diagnosis of snoring is relatively easy to make. A snorer’s family and loved ones usually suffer a pain in the ears accompanied by waking and irritation between the hours of 11pm and 7am. The offender is often male, although my 97-year-old mother-in-law of blessed memory was perfectly capable of making all the bedroom windows rattle from 30 yards. We did consider buying the house next door and erecting a new Berlin wall but were worried she might bring that down too.

Whether you are snoring or snored against, in the wake of National No Snoring Week – I kid you not – it’s worth remembering that it’s bad for you. Children don’t get the sleep they need, partners contemplate divorce, and loud snorers have a 34 per cent increased risk of heart attack and a 67 per cent increased risk of stroke. These are large numbers.

Snoring also damages your ability to concentrate, operate machinery and make love. Big worries.

So what’s in a snore? Basically, it’s caused by sloppy sleeping. To snore, you generally need to lie on your back with a slack jaw so your tongue and soft palate restrict your airways, causing your throat to rattle. It sounds a bit like dying.

You can make it worse if you have sleep apnoea (irregular breathing), blocked sinus and catarrh, obesity, big tonsils or are using drink and drugs to the point where your motor control is disabled. (We all tend to snore if we’re plastered because we have blocked most of the signals from brain to jaw.)

The main reason why male snorers are more prolific than female is due to poor lifestyle choices, involving drink.

Remedies have included murder but more popular are gumshield-type devices to reposition your lower mandible (jaw), which clinical trials show may be about 93 per cent effective for an outlay of around 60 quid (Google ‘snoring NHS’ or go to w/www.thera-snore.co.uk).

You can also try nasal decongestants, surgery, fresh air pumps and masks, extra pillar inserts for the uvula (the weird waggly bit towards the back of your throat), acupuncture, acupressure devices, a new bed with a decent mattress, using fewer pillows at night, sewing a tennis ball into the back of your sleeping shirt, or getting a singing teacher (because opera singers apparently don’t snore. Much. So they say. Or sing).

Personally, I’ve trained myself to wake up if I lie on my back by reminding myself it causes impotence.

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