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Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

Numerous studies have shown that a lack of high-quality sleep can have a negative impact on key health factors, from weight gain to impaired cognitive function.  Snoring is probably the most obvious sign that you’re not sleeping well.  The 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults found that:

“Sleep problems are common. It is apparent that inadequate sleep, of either duration or quality, and its daytime consequences are very common in Australian adults, affecting 33-45% of adults.

Medical sleep conditions are also very common, with diagnosed sleep apnoea affecting 8%, significant insomnia 20% and restless legs 18% of adults.

Average reported sleep time is 7 hours, although 12% sleep less than 5 ½ hours and 8% over 9 hours.

Frequent, loud snoring is reported by 24% of men and 17% of women.

Among the 19% of people with frequent loud snoring and/or witnessed breathing pauses but no prior diagnosis of OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnoea) on a sleep study, 63% report awakening unrefreshed, and 65% report one or more daytime sleep-related symptoms, suggesting undiagnosed sleep apnoea is relatively common in the community.”

Snoring side effects

Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnoea, a disorder that causes reduced airflow during sleep.  This condition is more common than ever. Sleep apnoea can increase your risk for daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

If you’re snoring, there’s also a good chance you’re breathing through your mouth, which can cause an additional set of problems.  When you breathe through your mouth, your mouth tends to dry out.  This then increases your risk of cavities as saliva plays a crucial role in the remineralization process that helps the teeth continually rebuild and heal existing cavities naturally.

Bad breath can also be an unexpected side effect of mouth breathing, as a dry mouth allows certain strains of harmful oral bacteria to grow out of control.

It’s clear that poor sleep has a negative effect on oral health. If you want to stop snoring, it’s worth determining the root cause of the issue and the best way to improve it.

The most common and straightforward way to find out whether you snore is to ask a friend or a loved one who sleeps nearby if & when you snore.  If you’re looking for a more formal confirmation—and the reasons behind your snoring—a sleep study is required.

Ways to potentially stop snoring

It may take some trial and error, but by implementing the following tips, you can make a significant impact on your snoring—and potentially stop snoring altogether.

Limit alcohol, especially close to bedtime.  Alcohol encourages the muscles in your mouth and throat to relax further increasing the likelihood of snoring.

Establish a healthy sleep pattern.  If you aren’t getting enough sleep, when you do finally catch some sleep your throat muscles can relax further than normal increasing the chances of snoring.

Choose a pillow to aid a good sleep position.  A pillow that helps you sleep on your side instead of on your back can help with snoring.  When you’re laid flat on your back, gravity can encourage your throat to narrow, increasing the possibility of snoring.

Resolve any sinus or nasal issues which can contribute to blocked airways and, therefore, snoring.

And if it continues?  A sleep study is recommended to rule out Sleep Apnoea.  This requires the appropriate treatment as during sleep the airway is blocked, with the brain’s signals that tell the body to breathe being interrupted and snoring occurring as the body struggles to breathe.

Or, it may be for you, like for a number of our patients that a snoring appliance is an effective solution for the restful sleep. Be encouraged that discussing your concerns with our Ballarat Dentist is the first step towards a restful night in your home!