While we all tend to snore from time to time, regular or chronic snoring can become a real problem for both you and your partner, and has serious health implications, and not least insomnia.
Snoring is a natural occurrence in response to blocked airways in the nose and mouth. Perhaps you have temporarily enlarged tonsils or adenoids during an allergic or inflammatory episode, or you’ve shifted from your favoured sleep position. Maybe your pillows aren’t quite supportive enough. Or perhaps, like many, you think one or more ‘nightcaps’ will help get you to sleep.
Whatever the reason, snoring is a big problem and can lead to relationship problems, sleep deprivation in your partner and, potentially, serious health outcomes. So, how do you know if you are simply snoring or there’s something more serious going on?
The crucial difference between snoring and Sleep Apnoea, is that the airways remain open in snorers, albeit less so than might be ideal.
The most common form of Sleep Apnoea is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (“OSA”). The keynote symptoms by which you can identify OSA versus straightforward snoring are:
• the volume of your snoring
• whether your snoring is interrupted by pauses in breathing, followed by gasps for breath
Those suffering with OSA mostly experience partial blockage of the airways and less commonly, totally blocked airways. A 10 second pause in breathing is typical and this cycle can repeat throughout the night.
Given the symptom picture of OSA, unsurprisingly, recent research states that people with OSA experienced an 8 fold greater risk for COVID-19 infection and increased risk of hospitalisation, with double the risk of developing respiratory failure.1
What are the risk factors for developing OSA?
A recent Harvard Medical School Guide states that 25% of men and 10% of women are afflicted with OSA.2 The graphic below shows the key risk factors for developing OSA:
As you might imagine, complications of OSA include those experienced from general sleep deprivation (daytime sleepiness, night time restless news, frequent awakenings, reduced concentration or thinking skills, memory problems, mood changes, drowsy driving, etc).2 More seriously, a temporary lack of oxygen to the body and brain can result in many different serious health conditions, not least stroke, hypertension and even Alzheimer’s3:
Medical interventions for OSA may include:
• Oxygen therapy
• Surgery and Oral Devices
• PAP Devices (Positive Airway Devices) to change the pressure in the airways although there is limited evidence of their effectiveness.
• Various Appliances. There are many appliances and gadgets that you can buy, all of which have differing degrees of effectiveness. See the Harvard Medical School Guide1 for details
• Sleep Position. Also known as Positional Sleep Therapy, try sleeping on your side as opposed to your back, and try a more supportive or specialist pillow. Read more here
While it is important to consult your GP about any new symptom picture, there are many ways you can help yourself. Some practical tips include:
• Reduce alcohol. It interferes with your sleep cycle, creates spikes in your blood sugar and encourages snoring
• Reduce Smoking. Smoking affects lung function and, in turn, breathing patterns
• Lose Weight. Being overweight or obese puts unnecessary strain on the respiratory system
• Avoid Sedatives & Tranquilisers. The Benzodiazepine family of drugs – some of which are prescribed for insomnia(!) – are muscle relaxants and lead to overly relaxed throat and neck muscles which can lead to OSA
• Yoga. Where would we be without yoga? There are so many benefits to yoga, not least helping you to breathe properly. By improving your breathing, you will relax, sleep better and feel more energised. It’s fantastic to keep your supple and flexible too.10
NB: Sleepability does not advise you stop any medication. Always speak to your medical adviser before changing/stopping your medication.
Sleepability: the Roots & Branch Approach
Sleepability is unique in that I specialise in using proven homeopathic remedies and relaxation techniques to help restore sleep and improve your sleep. With 20 years’ experience as a natural health practitioner, you can be assured there are many options in my toolbox which I tailor to your unique sleep problem. Over this time, I have helped many clients with their sleep problems and many other associated health conditions. And there is plenty of research to prove the efficacy of natural remedies, nutrition and relaxation techniques for sleep, mental health and general wellness.7-12
Experience has shown that symptoms are rarely the problem itself, but a messenger from the body that something is out of synch. This leads to a completely different perception of a case and, in turn, treatment options and this flexibility and adaptability makes the most complex cases accessible.
These are some typical symptoms of OSA that I have treated:
• Enlarged tonsils & adenoids. Ear, nose and throat problems respond well to natural remedies, specially homeopathy (and I speak from personal experience of a pre-homeopathy lifetime tendency to ENT problems). Your tonsils and adenoids are a vital component of your immune system so do what you can to maintain their health and function. OSA is a common symptom of these enlarged tonsils and adenoids, increasingly in children. We are learning that sleep is a primary immune function so it is important to address the underlying cause of this inflammation
• Mucus Congestion. While mucus is a natural bodily fluid, excess mucus is a sign of acidity and/or dehydration in the body. This can be caused by lifestyle factors, medication and diet or a metabolic tendency to acidity. A simple fix is to reduce dairy and wheat, neither of which are particularly digestible by the human digestive system.
o Increase your filtered water intake – 1.5 litres per day is average – opt for 2 litres
o Use natural remedies such as Biochemic Tissue salts – read my short article here, herbal or homeopathic remedies to address the conditions which have created mucus
o Switch to organic soya, nut, oat or rice milks and try different grains (spelt, soya, sourdough, rye, etc).
o Gut health is important to reducing mucus in the body. To find out more you can read my blog here
• Thyroid Health & Hormonal Imbalances. This is of particular importance for women, not least during pregnancy and menopause. The hormonal shifts involved in childbirth and menopause are sufficient to impact your metabolism. Have you gained weight? Lost your oomph and feel fatigued? Do you experience hair loss, or brittle nails and hair? Do you suffer from depression or anxiety? If so, it might be useful to get your thyroid checked. Your GP may help but do not offer a full thyroid screen as standard, and which has limited value.
Sleepability recommends a home self-test kit by Medichecks which offers a full thyroid check (i.e. TSH, FT3 and FT4). The last two readings are crucial to demonstrate your thyroid function and uptake of Thyroxine and, therefore, its use by the body. I have arranged a discount for clients so contact me today for more information.
If you are perimenopausal or menopausal, before resorting to HRT, there are many steps you can take to help yourself manage symptoms of hormonal shifts. Click here to download the Sleepability e-book ‘How to Manage your Menopause Naturally’
The SleepBundle Packages
Each package has been designed to offer clients three flexible treatment plans which are the culmination of my experience of working with clients. Expert case taking will identify any potential causative factors and lead to a bespoke treatment plan using proven natural remedies and relaxation techniques. The SleepBundles focus on gently easing your body off of red alert as, only then, will you relax and be able to sleep again, naturally. Each package provides the time and space for you to share your case safely and confidentially with me.
Meantime, for general tips on how you can sleep better and perhaps improve your partner’s sleep too, sign up for my Top Tips for Natural Sleep, here.
1 Maas, MB et al, 2021: ‘Obstructive Sleep Apnea and risk of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation and respiratory failure’ Paper
Harvard Medical School Guide SSA0619, 2019: ‘Snoring and Sleep Apnoea’, ISBN: 9781-61401-213-9 SS.
2 Janssen et al, 2019: ‘Management of Insomnia in sleep disordered breathing’ – Paper
3 Ancoli-Israel et al, 2006: ‘Cognitive effects of treating obstructive sleep apnoea in Alzheimer’s disease: a randomized controlled study’ Paper
4 Takeuchi, S et al, 2015: ‘Relationship between sleep apnoea and thyroid function’ Paper
5 Sood, A et al, 2007: ‘Use of complementary and alternative medicine treatments by patients with obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome Paper
6 Naude et al, 2010: “Chronic primary insomnia: efficacy of homeopathic simillimum” – Paper
7 Michael et al, 2019: “Efficacy of individualised homeopathic treatment of insomnia: double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial” – Paper
8 Villet et al, 2016: “Open-label observational study of homeopathic medicine Passiflora for anxiety and sleep disorders” – Paper
9 Li et al, 2018: – ‘The role of the microbiome in insomnia, circadian disturbance and insomnia – Paper
10 Wei, M, Harvard Health Publishing, 2015: “Yoga for Better Sleep” – Paper
11 Lillehei, A & Halcon, L, 2014: “A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep” – Paper
12 Walker, Matthew, 2018: ‘Why We Sleep’ – Penguin ISBN-10: 9780141983769; ISBN-13: 978-0141983769