It is estimated that 6 million Australians and over 1 million New Zealanders snore. That’s a lot of noise each night. And, if one of those snorers happens to share your bed and keep you up at night, it’s no laughing matter. Snoring can cause unpleasant daytime symptoms such as excessive sleepiness, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, irritability, and depression. So, even if you feel like pushing your beloved snorer out of bed so you can get some rest, it may be prudent to take him or her to see a doctor or pharmacist to address the underlying issue that’s causing all that noise.
Under All Those ZZZs
Snoring can be caused by a number of conditions, including:
- Certain nasal structures (e.g., polyps, tonsils, deviated septum)
- Genetic factors
- Alcohol use
- Certain medications
Moreover, about half the people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnoea, a common disorder, in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while asleep, which often starts again with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep apnoea can cause fatigue and should be treated because it increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other health problems.
Take a Closer Look
How your partner snores may reveal what’s making them snore. For instance, if your partner’s mouth is closed, it’s possible that the tongue is causing a problem. If snoring occurs with an open mouth, it may be related to “floppy” tissues in the throat, which can make noise when air is expelled. If snoring occurs while your partner is sleeping face up, and it’s mild, a gentle nudge and a change in the sleep position may alleviate the problem. If your loved one snores in all positions no matter what, there may be a more severe underlying medical issue that needs attention.
What You Can Do
First and foremost, have a serious discussion about snoring with your partner and suggest he or she see a doctor or pharmacist to address the issue.
You may also want to suggest some healthy lifestyle changes, such as:
- Weight loss
- Smoking cessation
- Avoiding alcohol near bedtime
- Asking you doctor or pharmacist if any of the medications you take (prescription or over-the-counter) could be contributing to snoring
In the meantime, you can invest in earplugs and a fan or white-noise machine to keep on your side of the bed; these devices may help you get more sleep. And remember: while a lack of sleep due to the noise of snoring can be a problem for you, snoring may have a treatable underlying cause that your partner can address with the help of a medical professional.
So don’t let snoring remain simply a nightly nuisance. Bring the topic into the daylight and the doctor’s office, so that everyone can rest more easily.
Reviewed by Verne Pitman, PharmD., who is a Senior Director in Clinical Sciences at Pfizer Inc.
- 1. Snoring. Better Health Channel Victoria Accessed 15/2/2017.
- 2. Snoring and Sleep. US National Sleep Foundation. Accessed 15/2/2017.
- 3. Is it snoring or sleep apnea? American Sleep Apnea Association. Accessed 15/2/2017.
- 4. Snoring – causes, remedies, surgery. Southern Cross Medical Library. Accessed 15/2/2017.