Snoring has been known to cause a riff between relationships as well as health. However, very little cure is relatively known for the nuisance. But does one scientific team have it all figured out?
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but yes, I snore. I’ve been told a couple of times about it. But apparently, it’s not like a bellowing boat. Rather it’s quiet, snuffly, nasal sound. Though I have never heard it and still in denial of it, there are undeniably many partners of snorers who have been long-suffering from the noise they encounter every night. They are the tortured witnesses from our own bedroom. While we keep our glow and fresh face after our well-night’s sleep, our partners simmer in their sleep-deprived rage at another sleepless night.
Although there is no conclusive number on how many of us actually snore, it is a certainly big and growing one. For the significant others of snorers (usually women, since men are more likely to snore), their mornings usually starts with misery from sleeplessness. Often times, it can even cause marital riffs. As for snorers, it can, and will, eventually end up putting a strain on their own bodies.
One spectrum when it comes to sleep disruption is the “obstructive sleep apnea”. During sleep apnea, the soft tissues of the upper airway and neck relax and then collapses repeatedly during the night. When that happens, you can actually stop breathing for more than 10 seconds—at which point your body will instinctively gasp for air. When this usually happens, it’s more likely to cause heart problems and reduce lung capacity. While about 2% of children suffer from OSA and as much as 4% of adults, it is believed that more than 80% of sufferers remain undiagnosed. Due to the problems OSA poses, those suffering from it opts for surgery to reposition the lower jaw to widen the airway or reduce the soft palates in their mouth.
However, not all of us suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Most of us simply suffer the milder variety of OSA that is snoring. In fact, it’s widely recognized that snoring doesn’t necessarily affect the snorer but rather the one they sleep with. So what’s the cure? For a long time, there had been a countless range of advice. Since snoring is primarily caused by fatty tissues in the neck and throat vibrating, the ideal solution would be to lose weight. But, as most of us know, it’s easier said than done.
For more serious snorers, there are several minimally invasive surgeries available. One such surgery developed this year is one that uses absorbable sutures that softens the soft palate. It’s also proven to be effective, too, with more than 88% customer satisfaction. There are also practical and self-remedied advices, too, that has been proven effective. These include avoiding alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime, placing tennis balls behind your backs, and many more.
And then there’s the laundry list of devices that you can use that is supposed to help. There are chin straps and mouth shields to keep you from breathing thru your mouth, nasal strips to open your nostrils, mouth guards to shift your lower jaw—the list of anti snoring devices is now huge! Although they do not have much scientific bearing en masse, they have been proven effective when prescribed by a personal dentist for that specific patient. And, need it be said, it also limits the shared romantic nights.
And so the field was open for any scientific team in pursuit of the cure. Enter the team of Vanessa Ieto, a Brazilian researcher at the Sleep Laboratory of Sao Paulo medical school. They revolved around the premise that by strengthening and tightening the muscles in the mouth and neck, it makes them less floppy and flappy during sleep. The team then devised a number of daily exercises designed to strengthen those muscles. There were thirty-nine volunteers whose snoring habits were analyzed and recorded. Microphones were placed under the snorers beds to record their nightly chorus. By assigning a “snore index”, the researches managed to detect and analyzed their snores.
After which, the snorers were then divided into two groups for three months. The first group was given nasal strips while the other group were assigned exercises. While the group with the nasal strips remained to snore as badly, the other group who did exercises for three full months, significantly snored less. Even more so, their power of snoring was reduced by 59% according to the snore index. While this remains yet an anecdotal data and not a complete cure, it’s still in its infancy and the possibilities could still be at large when the exercises are vastly improved and done for longer durations.
The team is still continuing their research. One researcher, Geraldo Lorenzi-Filho, explains: “We are currently evaluating the effects of the exercises on the anatomical structures as evaluated by MRI.”
For those who have been longing for a cure, help may soon be at hand. Should you wish to try the exercise yourself, Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, is the guide for the exercises that Ieto’s team have created thru BBC2’s health program. Alternatively, you can also try the didgeridoo. It has the same mouth and neck toning effect, but comes