Sleep should be a calming and restorative experience. You put your head on your pillow, close your eyes, and drift off into dream land. That soothing sleep, however, can sometimes be disturbed by a snoring partner. Deep, guttural noises that torment your thoughts and make you want to cover your head with a pillow and kick them out of your bed.
Whilst snoring is incredibly disturbing for someone’s partner, it also prevents the snorer from getting the real rest they require.
If you have ever looked into anti-snoring solutions, you would have noticed that the market has been flooded with all sorts of gadgets claiming that they can cure or beat snoring. This multitude of gadgets is not only confusing to most people and if you have gone a step further and have actually invested your hard earned money into one of these so-called ‘anti-snoring’ solutions, the fact that you are reading this article would suggest the results you experienced did not meet your expectations.
This is why we have designed this anti-snoring guide, to provide you with the most extensive and detailed resource on anti-snoring solutions. This guide is packed with information about what snoring is, how snoring works, the long term effects of snoring and the best anti-snoring solutions and devices available on the market. Best of all, we connect you with professionals that can advise you on the best anti-snoring solutions for you based on your personal circumstances and budget.
In its simplest form, snoring is a vibration, that usually occurs during sleep when someone breaths in and produces a loud rattling noise. This noise is caused by the vibration of the soft palate (found at the posterior end of the roof of the mouth) and the uvula (that structure at the back of the mouth that looks like a tiny punching bag).
During sleep, the muscles at the back of your throat and your jaw tend to relax. This muscle relaxation inevitably leads to a narrowing of the airway. In extreme cases, it can even lead to the airway being temporarily closed off. Air passing through the tighter opening causes the soft palate and uvula tissues to vibrate. Voila! This is how this infamous unpleasant sound is produced.
There are certain conditions and lifestyle choices that increase the propensity for the muscles at the back of the throat to relax. These conditions and lifestyle choices are listed below.
Snoring is often thought to be synonymous with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Understanding the difference between both will help you have a better appreciation of the symptoms and find the relevant treatment for each.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that is associated with “abnormal pauses in breathing or abnormally low breathing during sleep”. OSA is one of the most prevalent and severe forms of sleep apnea. Those who suffer from it have complete blockage of airflow during their sleep. This sleep apnea can last from a few seconds to over a minute and can be dangerous as it restricts the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain.
People who suffer from Sleep Apnea, or even basic snoring, are often not even aware that they have this issue. It is usually identified by their partners or relatives who have to deal with terrible noises at night or worry when they cannot feel the other person breathing next to them.
Basic snoring on the other hand is primarily associated with a narrowed airway, meaning that the airway isn’t completely blocked. The loud, rattling sound during sleep is the telltale sign of snoring. However, if snoring is also accompanied by the following symptoms, you need to be tested for OSA.
If you think you and your partner are alone in this battle, think again as snoring affects a large portion of the UK population. It is estimated that 40 percent of the UK’s population consists of snorers. That’s 25 million people affected by this problem! Of these 25 million people, it is estimated 1% or 250,000 people suffered from severe sleep apnea.
Whilst snoring is a common problem, the advancements in technology mean that it is now possible for millions of UK snorers to see the end of the tunnel and seek appropriate advice from health professionals and get effective anti-snoring treatment in place to address the root of the problem.
There are a myriad of short and long term effects caused by snoring and sleep apnea, ranging from cognitive issues to irritability, all of which can seriously impact your ability to function efficiently on a daily basis.
As with many health conditions, snoring has immediate short-term effects. These include:
A team of researchers at the NYU Center for Brain Health linked cognitive issues to long-term snoring. In layman terms, this means that researchers found a connection between snoring and mild cognitive impairment, such as memory lapses and slower thought processes. This study is also supported by further research which suggest that it is possible for people with sleep apnea to lose tissue in the short-term memory centers of the brain which could explain the memory lapses.
However it’s not all doom and gloom as not all snorers will display these symptoms, which are also more likely to occur in elderly patients.
As if the possibility of cognitive impairment isn’t enough, snoring has also been linked to strokes. A sleep study led by Dr. Kathleen Yaremchuk from the Henry Ford Hospital found that plaque thickens the lining of two blood vessels that transport blood to the brain in frequent snorers. Blockage of these critical blood vessels can ultimately results in stroke.
Cardiovascular issues are also a possible long-term side effect of snoring. Through his research at the Cure Snoring Center and Sleep Disorders Center in New York, Dr. Eric Cohen, has found that women who snore have an extremely high risk of heart disease. Blockage of the blood vessels that transport blood to the brain due to the build-up of plaque in the lining of those vessels can result in high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Furthermore, studies show that sleep apnea increases the chances of nonfatal heart disease events and fatal heart attacks.
But it doesn’t end there. Graeme Kirkwood, a Specialist Registrar, states that “sleep-related cardiac arrhythmias are very common…up to 15 percent of sudden arrhythmic deaths occur during sleep.” This possibly occurs either because sleep apnea is likely to affect the heart’s conductive system or increases the size of the left atrium over the long-term.
A study conducted by a group of scientists in 2014 showed that the people suffering from sleep apnea are more likely to develop anxiety and depression than those who don’t. The correlation between sleep apnea and anxiety and depression cannot be ignored and it is recommended to consult a specialist as soon as possible.
Early detection and treatment is crucial for patients suffering from snoring:
There are 3 main approaches used to treat snoring, which might need to be used in conjunction in order to address the root of the problem are lifestyle changes, anti-snoring devices and surgery.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight and Diet: Obesity can affect multiple aspects of your life and health and can certainly be a major factor behind your snoring or sleep apnea. The extra weight and build-up of fat tissues can lead to more pressure being put on your airways, ultimately making it more difficult for you to breath during your sleep. Losing weight and treating your body well by eating healthy food and exercising will lessen the pressure on your airway and reduce and in some instances stop your snoring. If snoring still persists, consult a doctor.
The aim of anti-snoring devices is to eliminate snoring and sleep apnea by addressing the main cause of snoring which is the reduction of airflow into your airway.
Anti-snoring devices are usually divided into 2 broad categories: oral devices and nasal devices.
Consulting an dentist/orthodontist to assess the best device for you is key, but remember that it might be a trial and error process as they will have to try different devices to assess which solution is delivering optimum relief from snoring.
There are 2 types of oral devices: Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs) and Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs).
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs): MADs, also known as oral appliances or dental sleep devices, are the most common types of anti-snoring devices. They secure the upper airway by moving the lower jaw (mandible) forward. This action strengthens the tongue and airway muscles and enables them to move forward and open the airway.
Whilst Mandibular Advancement Devices are not the most attractive device, research shows that MADs have an approximate success rate of 72 percent. They are also more comfortable and convenient to use than the very obtrusive CPAP masks but due to their nature, are less comfortable than nasal devices.
Mandibular Advancement Devices must be custom-fitted and can be bought by visiting your dental practitioner who will make dental impressions to create your MAD.
One of the leading appliances in the market is the Somnowell mandibular advancement device which delivers a 93 - 96% success rate and will cost anything between £495 and £1250 depending on where the practitioner is located and how experienced in the appliance they are.
Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs): TRDs, also called Tongue Stabilizing Devices (TSDs), work by placing the tongue in an anterior position, thus preventing it from retracting into the airway. It uses a suction bulb to hold the tip of the tongue in place on the teeth or lips.
The technique used by TRDs is one of the most effective ways to keep the airway open during sleep, with the appliance hitting a success rate of anywhere between 60% and 80%.
Tongue retaining devices must be custom-fitted and usually tend to be more uncomfortable than mandibular advancement devices. A variety of TRDs are available on Amazon and range in price from £7.39 to £36.99.
There are 2 types of nasal devices: nasal strips and mechanical dilators. Snoring due to nasal congestion is treated using these devices. They work by keeping the nasal valves to prevent them from collapsing when you breathe in.
Nasal Strips: Nasal strips typically have 2 flat parallel bands of plastic inside a special adhesive pad. The bands are placed across the nose and lift the skin upward and outward. This action opens the nose cartilage walls and widens the nasal valve. Manufacturers of nasal strips claim that they have a success rate between 70 and 80 percent for basic snoring issues, however this type of device is not proving very effective for severe cases of sleep apnea.
A comfortable and flexible design makes nasal strips a favorite solution for snoring. One of their major disadvantages, however, is the fact that they can fall off while you sleep due to perspiration, excess oil or movement. Breathe Right Nasal Strips are the best nasal strips on the market, with a pack of 30 strips costing approximately £15.
Mechanical Dilators: Mechanical dilators can be found as in-nostril stents, in-nostril cones, and external strips. The most common forms are placed inside the nostrils and push outward. By widening the nostrils, these devices help improve breathing. However, there effectiveness is limited when nasal airway obstruction is above the nasal valve area.
Nevertheless, they are easy to insert, are more likely to stay on throughout the night compared to nasal strips, and aren’t unduly uncomfortable for people with larger nostrils.
Mechanical dilator manufacturers claim a success rate of 90 percent or more with their devices. A variety of mechanical nasal dilators are available online with prices ranging from £10 to £15.
According to the British Snoring and Sleep Apnea Association, there are 4 possible surgical procedures for treating snoring and sleep apnea:
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): The Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a surgery that involves removing extra tissue in the throat to widen the airway. Less tissue usually makes it easier to breathe, which in turn reduces snoring intensity and risk of sleep apnea. When removal of a portion of the tongue is done, the surgery is renamed uvulopalatopharyngoglossoplasty.
The best candidates for this type of surgery are patients with a palate size of 1 or 2 based on a modified Mallampati scale and tonsil size of 3 or 4 based on the Brodsky scoring system.
The success rate of Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty on snoring patients is in the region of 80%, but it is highly likely that you will need Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy after surgery.
An ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist can best advise you on whether or not you are a good candidate for the surgery.
Laser-assisted Uvuloplatoplasty (LAUP): An LAUP is a more cost-effective option compared to the UPPP. As its name suggest, a Laser-assisted Uvuloplatoplasty involves a surgeon using a laser to vaporize the free edge of the soft palate. As LAUP is less invasive than UPPP, it possible for the procedure to be repeated multiple times to achieve the desired result. Some patients need up to 4 LAUPs in order to get the desired result. Both LAUP and UPPP produce intense post-operative pain, with LAUP’s success rate being less than 55 percent.
Radio-Frequency Ablation (Somnoplasty): Radio-Frequency Ablation, also known as Somnoplasty, is a minimally invasive snoring procedure that has become popular over the recent years for treating patients suffering from snoring without sleep apnea. The procedure works by using heat (85 degrees) to shrink the inner tissue of the soft palate.
Somnoplasty is less painful than the other surgical procedures and tend to take less time.
Early studies show that nearly 75% of snorers who underwent somnoplasty were still pleased with the results three years later, although it is worth mentioning that obese patients are less likely to have success with this procedure.
Cautery-assisted Palatal Stiffening Operations (CAPSO): Unlike other surgical procedures, Cautery-assisted Palatal Stiffening Operations are performed with local anesthesia with the aim of treating palatal snoring.
CAPSO has a number of advantages over uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, palatal radiofrequency ablation or laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty as it is a simple in-office procedure performed in a single appointment, therefore avoiding the need for multiple-stage surgeries. CAPSO’s success rate is estimated at around 70-80%.
In summary, a clear and concise diagnosis of the origin of the snoring will then lead you to be able to decide on the most appropriate plan of action. Consulting your GP or GDP about this is your first point of contact and can either give you some options or refer you onto a sleep clinic. Evaluating your current lifestyle, the stress , eating habits and daily routine may be the first steps towards treating your snoring.