If you or someone you live with snores, you’ll know what a disturbing effect it can have on enjoying a quality night’s sleep! Snorers (or their partners) may feel increasingly tired and unable to obtain restful, deep sleep. If snoring is an issue for you, ENRICH Clinic can help. The Romeo laser we use in treatments is effective and comfortable and can help reduce your snoring. Required treatments range from 1 – 3, depending on the patient.
Snoring is the sound of the soft tissue in the back of your throat vibrating as you breathe whilst still asleep. Whilst we know the impact it can have on a good night’s sleep, did you know that snoring might be a sign of more serious health issues? Here, we discuss the top four reasons that can cause snoring and outline our clinic’s approach to treatment.
What causes snoring?
Snoring can be the result of a combination of different physical factors.
1. The anatomy of the mouth and nasal airways
The anatomy of the mouth and nasal airways can contribute to snoring. If the airways are blocked, a snoring sound will occur. The snoring can be temporary, perhaps due to allergies or infection (think being sick with a cold and struggling to breathe freely overnight!), or more permanent and severe due to the nostrils’ shape and anatomy of the mouth and airways.
2. Soft tissue
If the soft palate and uvula are lacking in tone, thus narrowing the airway, snoring can occur due to the contact of the uvula on the throat and soft palate.
3. Low muscle tone in the tongue and throat muscles
The mouth and throat are comprised of muscles, and if they are too relaxed, they can collapse and loosen in the airways, resulting in snoring. Muscle relaxation can occur temporarily from alcohol consumption or the use of some medications (you might find you snore after falling asleep after a few too many!), as well as from general muscle laxity as we age.
4. Being overweight
If you are overweight, it is likely that you may have excess fat around the neck. This can lead to extra pressure on the airways when sleeping. In addition, oversized tonsils and adenoids can also become an issue, but this is usually only temporary.
Causes of snoring in females
Pregnancy and menopause are two significant life stages that can influence snoring in women through hormonal and physical changes.
Snoring during pregnancy is often due to hormonal changes that cause nasal passage swelling, combined with weight gain that narrows the airways in the neck and throat. This issue typically intensifies in the third trimester but usually diminishes after giving birth.
During and after menopause, a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, hormones that experts believe help protect against snoring, can increase snoring. This, coupled with common post-menopausal weight gain, can narrow the airways and change breathing patterns during sleep, further contributing to snoring.
Causes of snoring in men
Snoring in men is often attributed to distinct anatomical and physiological traits. The larger oropharynx in men, resulting from bigger upper airways and a lower larynx, increases the likelihood of airway obstruction during sleep, leading to snoring.
Also, men typically accumulate more fat in their upper chest and neck, further narrowing the airways and making snoring more likely.
Lastly, the change in the structure of the airways when transitioning from sitting to lying down is more pronounced in men, leading to increased airway obstruction in this position.
Other factors include:
- Alcohol or sedative consumption
- Allergies or a cold with nasal congestion
- Sleep position
- Natural aging processes
- Decline in collagen
When should snoring be a concern?
- Witnessed breathing pauses during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat upon awakening
- Restless sleep
- Gasping or choking at night
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain at night
- Your snoring is so loud it’s disrupting your partner’s sleep
These symptoms are associated with obstructive sleep apnoea.
Do I have sleep apnoea?
It’s important to note that not all snoring is the result of sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea occurs when the walls of the throat close together during sleep, blocking off the upper airway. Breathing stops for a while (generally between ten seconds and up to one minute) until the brain registers the lack of breathing or a drop in oxygen levels and sends a small wake-up call to the body. Often, the person suffering from sleep apnoea doesn’t even realise they have woken up. The pattern can repeat itself hundreds of times each night, causing fragmented and disrupted sleep. This can result in excessive daytime sleepiness, poor daytime concentration, and fatigue. Approximately five per cent of Australians suffer from this sleep disorder, with around one in four men over the age of thirty years affected.
Sleep apnoea is treated differently from snoring and must be investigated and ruled out by the treating doctor. It is quite a serious issue, sleep apnoea and can have some health implications, so please check in with your GP and, if need be, see an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist if you suspect you have sleep apnoea.
We do not treat sleep apnoea here at ENRICH Clinic.
How do I stop my snoring?
Extra weight, especially around the neck, can compress and narrow the airways. Losing weight can alleviate this pressure and improve airflow during sleep.
Avoid alcohol close to bedtime
Avoiding alcoholic beverages a few hours before going to bed can help keep these muscles firm, reducing the likelihood of snoring.
Treat nasal congestion
Addressing the cause of congestion, whether allergies, a cold, or a structural issue like a deviated septum, can help improve breathing and reduce snoring.
Avoid sleep deprivation
When you’re sleep-deprived, you tend to sleep more deeply the next time you catch up on sleep, causing the muscles in your throat to relax more than usual, which can worsen snoring.
Avoid sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back can cause the tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of your throat, blocking the airway and leading to snoring. Sleeping on your side can help keep the airway open.
Seek medical treatment
If lifestyle changes aren’t effective, seek medical advice. A healthcare provider can assess for underlying conditions like obstructive sleep apnea, which may require specific treatments such as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliances, or, in some cases, surgery.
Romeo, Romeo wherefore art thou Romeo – Snoring treatments at ENRICH Clinic
The Romeo procedure is a snoring treatment that delivers laser to the soft palate, which causes stimulation and tightening of collagen that firms up the soft palate. This change results in decreased vibrations and decreased snoring. This leads to a reduction in the vibration of the tissue and snoring when the patient is asleep. The treatment itself is very comfortable for the patient. It is normal to experience a warm sensation at the back of the throat as the laser tightens the tissue, but this is tolerable. Post-treatment recovery is usually quick, and there is no downtime with the Romeo laser – many patients return to work immediately.
Research has shown that snoring can be reduced by up to 60% after two or three treatments with ENRICH Clinic’s high-tech target lasers designed to tighten the soft palate and stop snoring. The laser has minimal downtime, with doctors suggesting you might have a few days with a sore throat feeling. Following the treatment, we recommend avoiding cold foods, fizzy drinks and no smoking or alcohol for 24-48 hours. For best results, patients will undergo two to three treatments at four-week intervals.
Contact us for an appointment to stop snoring today.