If the noises coming from the other side of the bed are more deafening than desirable, you’re not alone.
Roughly 81 per cent of middle-aged Australian men snore for at least 10 per cent or longer of the night, according to Dr Thomas Altree, respiratory and sleep physician at Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health.
“Almost everyone snores from time-to-time, but repetitive snoring, which happens for longer durations throughout the night, occurs in around 44 per cent of males and 28 per cent of females aged 30-60,” he says.
Snoring tends to be made worse by increased weight, sleeping on our back, or after drinking alcohol; but it can also be indicative of a more serious condition, known as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
“This is a condition where the airway at the back of our throat narrows or closes over repetitively while we’re sleeping,” Dr Altree explains.
Disrupted sleep doesn’t just cause midnight frustration and daytime crankiness.
Here, Dr Altree discusses the other dampeners that snoring and OSA can have on our lives.
1. Relationship strainer
“The effect of snoring on partners’ sleep quality can have really significant impacts on the overall health of the relationship,” Dr Altree says.
“Often the snorer isn’t aware of the noise they’re making, but the partner certainly is.”
And snoring can be REALLY loud! “Sometimes even as high as 80 decibels, which is about the noise level of a vacuum cleaner.”
Not surprisingly, this noise not only affects the partners’ ability to sleep and their mood, “but often leads to couples sleeping in separate rooms.”
2. Sex-life fizzer
As if sleeping in separate rooms isn’t challenging enough for romance, Dr Altree says OSA has been linked to erectile dysfunction.
“Some snorers find that their ability to have sex is diminished,” he says.
3. Health hazards
Constant disrupted and poor-quality sleep can wreak havoc on the immune system and physical health, as well as mental wellbeing.
“OSA is a risk factor for reduced memory and concentration, depression, high blood pressure, heart rhythm abnormalities, and stroke,” explains Dr Altree.
“It’s because of these risks that untreated OSA can have major effects on our productivity and future health.”
4. Safety issues
In the short term, chronic sleep deprivation not only affects our mood, but also impairs our ability to make quick risk assessments and decisions. This, of course, can lead to other problems.
“OSA can cause daytime sleepiness and is a risk factor for drowsy driving and motor vehicle crashes,” adds Dr Altree.
Dr Altree says that while most people with obstructive sleep apnoea snore, not all snorers have OSA.
If OSA is suspected, however, it can be diagnosed by an overnight sleep study.
“There are many different treatments available for OSA. If mild to moderate, sometimes simple things like weight loss or avoiding sleeping on your back is enough to treat it,” he explains.
“When it’s more severe or causing significant symptoms, other treatments are often needed, such as mouth guards, CPAP machines (continuous positive airway pressure), or surgery.”
SleepCheck is a clinically validated and hassle-free sleep apnoea screening app that analyses your breathing and snore sounds while you sleep. When you wake up, you will instantly find out whether you are at low, medium or high risk of sleep apnoea. You can easily book an appointment with a GP via HealthEngine to discuss your results. Visit SleepCheckapp.com for more.
ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE. IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
SleepCheck is CE marked. Not for sale in the United States. For use on adults aged 18 years and above. This test is not intended to provide a diagnosis, or be used in the prevention, management, treatment or alleviation of any medical condition disease or injury and is not intended as a substitute for a sleep study. This test does not identify risk of central sleep apnoea. The content on the website is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.