The Sound of Snoring

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

For many, the sound of snoring is irritating and annoying. It can lead to sleep deprivation for those sleeping nearby and the noise of snoring can cause a number of health problems.

The level of noise that starts to have an effect on sleep is around 40 decibels and snoring can range from 50 to over a hundred. Research has consistently found that when exposed to noise at these levels, it can have a negative effect on all areas of a person’s wellbeing.

Sleep disturbance, hearing impairment, daytime functioning, mental health problems, cognitive issues and negative social behaviour can be symptoms of being subjected to loud noise over an extended period of time and sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can also have a negative impact on body systems such as hormonal release, glucose regulation and cardiovascular function.

Often those who sleep with a snorer try to ignore the noise. Although they may manage to sleep through the night, their quality of sleep is much reduced and they will not feel as refreshed in the morning as they should. Noise tends to reduce deep refreshing sleep to more shallow sleep and reduces dreaming sleep. Those who sleep with snorers are at risk of hearing loss as well due to continuous exposure to noise.

Snoring is the result of changes in the flow of air whilst breathing during sleep. It can occur if there is any narrowing of the airway in the nose, mouth or throat. Snoring affects up to a third of the population and, although generally thought of as a problem that affects middle-aged men, it can occur in younger men and women. Obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking and body posture are all factors that can contribute to snoring.

Snoring is often just considered a social nuisance but, as it forms part of a spectrum of sleep disordered breathing problems, it could be an indicator of more serious health problems. People who snore and also suffer with excessive daytime tiredness may have a problem known as Upper Airways Resistance Syndrome (UARS) or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA).

An overnight sleep study is a useful test to help confirm the diagnosis. This test measures periods during sleep where the oxygen levels in the blood dip down below normal. In OSA, blood oxygen levels will drop down whereas with UARS they will not. People with significant OSA often require treatment with a form of therapy.

People who do not have significant OSA may benefit from other treatments. A diagnostic technique performed by an ENT surgeon called sleep nasal-endoscopy may be able to identify the anatomical cause of snoring. Once the cause is determined, a bespoke treatment can be offered which may be surgery or an alternative non-surgical treatment such as an oral splint to be worn while sleeping. When treatment is tailored to the individual’s anatomy, excellent results in reducing snoring and improving sleep quality can be achieved.

Register your interest to hear from us