Snoring isn't normal, it's a symptom

Physiologist Jade Wells explains why you should pay close attention to your night time noises.

Despite how commonly it occurs, you may be surprised to know that snoring isn’t actually considered normal. 

People who snore - and the partners who must listen to their snoring at night - usually have no problem acknowledging that snoring is disruptive and uncomfortable. And whilst occasional snoring is usually not very serious in itself, habitual snoring can also put you at risk of serious health problems.

Snoring can also be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea. It's a sleep disorder that affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. It occurs due to the collapse of the airway in the throat during sleep and causes loud snoring and periodic pauses in breathing. As a consequence, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp, and productive the next day.

The chronic sleep deprivation that comes with sleep apnoea results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes and poor concentration. Sleep apnoea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain.

It is important to take snoring seriously as a health problem and if you think you may be suffering from sleep apnoea or chronic snoring then it is advisable that you visit a doctor who can advise you on the best strategies for treatment.

There are, however things we all can do to diminish the risk of snoring:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Snoring is closely associated with excess weight. Keeping your weight in check through regular exercise and healthy diet is one way to prevent, reduce and even eliminate snoring. Even a small amount of weight loss can open up your throat and improve sleep apnoea symptoms.
  2. Avoid alcohol, especially before bedtime, because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing.
  3. Don’t smoke. Smoking is believed to contribute to sleep apnoea by increasing inflammation and fluid retention in your throat and upper airway.
  4. Maintain regular sleep hours. Sticking to a steady sleep schedule will help you relax and sleep better.

Last updated Tuesday 24 April 2018

First published on Monday 8 August 2016