Lifestyle

Is your snoring putting your LIFE at risk? Expert shares warning signs

Is your snoring putting your LIFE at risk? Expert reveals the red flags it could be a more serious issue (and the warning signs it’s ruining your relationship too)

  • Sleeping expert Kath Hope revealed when snoring is becoming a serious issue 
  • Warns that some snorers might be suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea 
  • She founded the Hope2Sleep charity in East Yorkshire after she was diagnosed
  • Her mother, who died from a heart attack at 49, also suffered from sleep apnoea 

Snoring is an annoyance for many, but in some cases it’s also a sign something could be seriously wrong with your health. 

Sleep apnoea expert Kath Hope knows this all too well. She created her Charity Hope2Sleep in East Yorkshire after she and her mother were diagnosed with sleep apnoea, a serious condition where the muscles in the throat relax during sleep, causing the sufferer to temporarily stop breathing. 

It is Kath’s own diagnosis that made her realise her mother suffered from the same condition. Sadly, she had already died from a sudden heart attack at the age of 49. 

Now the sleeping expert wants to warn others about the early signs of sleep apnoea and stresses that snoring is never good news. 

Turning from sufferer to advocate, Kath has dedicated her charity to supporting people with sleep apnoea. 

Snoring can also affect your productivity and health during the day, leaving you restless with a dry throat and sleepy all day 

Following this year’s National Snoring Week, which took place in April, Kath teamed up with Blue singer Simon Webbe and music producer and writer Aubrey Whitfield in order to raise awareness for the not-so-silent-killer. 

The singer and music producer collaborated to create a relaxation track made up of snoring sounds, with all proceeds going to Hope2Sleep.  

What is sleep apnoea and how to get diagnosed 

In the UK, 1.5 million adults and one in 30 children suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea, characterised by snoring, yet 85 per cent are unaware of their condition.

‘Apnoea is Greek for “without breath”, so it’s the silences in between the snores that people need to be listening for, which is when a person has stopped breathing,’ Kath explains. 

And while your partner might not like your snoring, they can help to identify one of the symptoms of sleep apnoea. 

Sleep apnoea can only be diagnosed through a sleeping study and requires immediate treatment in order to avoid further damage 

‘The silence is usually followed by a snort or gasp, as the body has worked hard to resume breathing and bring back the oxygen levels to normal and the heart rate down,’ Kath explains. 

‘It should also be said that even snoring when it’s not sleep apnoea is a health risk.’

There’s only one way to find out whether you do suffer from sleep apnoea – head to your local GP and request a sleeping study. 

The study works either in hospital or at home. You’ll have to use a finger pulse oximeter, which checks for oxygen de-saturations, and a breathing cannula to check for apnoeas and hypopnoeas.

Health risks associated with sleep apnoea

  • Heart attacks and other cardiovascular disorders
  • Strokes
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Driving accidents (through sleep deprivation)
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland – where your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones
  • ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Brain confusion and memory problems
  • Fibromyalgia – a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
  • Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s
  • Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) – a bilateral chronic papillary conjunctivitis. The upper-lip is lax, floppy and easily everted
  • Glaucoma –  a condition that causes damage to your eye’s optic nerve and gets worse over time. It’s often linked to a buildup of pressure inside your eye
  • Asthma
  • Sleep Paralysis – a temporary inability to move or speak that occurs when you’re waking up or falling asleep. It’s not harmful and should pass in a few seconds or minutes, but can be very frightening
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Heartburn and gastrointestinal reflux
  • Vitamin D and/or B12 deficiency

If you are diagnosed, Kath stresses the importance of treating it right away in order to prevent further damage. 

Standard treatment for sleep apnoea requires a CPAP machine (continuous positive air pressure). 

For smaller cases of apnoea, a dentist trained in sleep can provide you with a mandibular device that will bring the lower jaw forwards to give more room in the airways and prevent the apnoea. 

An expert in sleep gave her best tips to reduce your snoring and have quieter nights – but warned snoring could be a symptom of more serious issues 

Snoring yourself single 

Snoring not only can lead to serious health complications, it can have a lasting negative impact on your relationship as well. 

According to research published during National Snoring werk, nearly a fifth of couples (18 per cent) admit to arguing regularly about it, with 12 per cent citing snoring as a reason for divorcing their partner. 

Kath notes the popular belief that people who snore are in a deep sleep, paired with the frustration of a partner that has to put up with the snoring, is one of the reasons why snoring is such a big issue for couples.   

‘This will also have consequences on the bed partner during the day due to their own lack of sleep,’ she adds.

‘The best tip is to talk about this. The bed partner should not be afraid to broach the subject of how the snoring is affecting them too and point out how concerned they are about the health of their snoring partner.’ 

Snoring red flags: How to know when it’s a real problem 

  • Waking suddenly from sleep (though many sufferers are unaware of waking up)
  • Lack of concentration, poor work or school performance and memory problems or confusion
  • Depression, anxiety or irritability
  • Morning headaches
  • Dry mouth and/or sore throat on waking
  • Decreased sex drive

Bring down the noise with these tips 

Kath recommends sleeping on your side rather than you back in order to reduce loud, heavy snoring.

The environment and your bed can also be to blame. Kath advises ensuring that your bedroom is not too hot and stuffy and recommends sleeping slightly elevated, with a four to six inch incline at the head end of the bed, or with a wedge pillow.

Kath also suggests using nasal strips, sinus sprays or nasal irrigation to ensure your nose is free from congestion.

Certain foods, such as dairy products, can cause inflammation and should be avoided before bedtime.

There are a few lifestyle changes you could make in order to help with your snoring. 

Losing weight is one of them, as people with a healthy BMI range – between 25 and 29.9 – snore less than people that are overweight. 

Give up the booze! Alcohol can make snoring worse, so avoiding its consumption three hours before bedtime will help achieve a quieter night.  

Finally, Kath advises avoiding over the counter sleeping medication – though she stresses it’s important not to come off prescribed medication without speaking to your GP first.

‘Snored to Sleep’ is available to download and stream on Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play for 59p, with all proceeds from sales of the track going to Hope2Sleep.

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