You don’t need to be a light sleeper to know how damaging a disrupted night’s sleep can be to your daily life.
Even just one night of disturbed sleep can quadruple your risk of catching a cold, lower your motivation and reaction times, reduce your ability to concentrate and even affect your appetite.
So, imagine the damage done if you were suffering disturbed sleep every night, thanks to a snoring partner.
Dr Derek Swan, dentist and member of the British Society of Dental Sleep Medicine, and close working partner of the Department of Sleep Medicine at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, said: ‘Snoring can be as loud as 50 to 100 decibels, but it only takes a noise of 40 decibels to disrupt sleep – so if your partner is snoring, even just for a little while, the chances are that it will disrupt your sleep and wake you up.
‘If snoring is occurring on a regular basis, it goes beyond being irritating for the snorer and their partner; it can actually cause serious health concerns.’
Many of us have experienced the agony of lying awake at night whilst our partner blissfully snoozes (and snores!) on beside us, and the effects can be physically and emotionally damaging. Persistent interruption of sleep caused by snoring can result in excessive daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration, headaches and poor memory, as well as an increased risk of depression.
But it’s not just the physical elements at risk of harm here; there’s also the resentment and frustration that sleeping (or not sleeping!) with a snorer can present.
Clinic studies have shown that couples where one partner suffers with snoring issues have a much higher divorce rate than those who do not, and married couples in this situation have a high rate of marital dissatisfaction and a reduced quality of life.
Dr Derek explained: ‘Many couples with a persistently snoring partner feel that they have no choice but to sleep in separate bedrooms, impacting intimacy and closeness in the relationship. In fact, a recent sleep study of couples found that snoring is the third most recognised medical reason why couples file for divorce.’
But what causes snoring in the first place? During normal sleep, the muscles that control the soft palate and the tongue keep working to hold the airway open, but for snorers, these muscles relax and narrow the airway, creating turbulence in the throat which causes the snoring sound. Snoring is more common in men than women (until the age of 60, when women start to catch up), and is far more common in those who are overweight, smokers or those who consume alcohol or other depressants in the evenings, which further relax those muscles.
Frustrated spouses desperate for a solution may present all kinds of treatments in the hope of them working – from tennis balls in the pockets, to chin straps, nose strips and even snoring rings, but Dr Derek tells us that these devices are unlikely to make any realistic difference to snoring habits – ‘There is currently no evidence that fingers are connected to snoring!’.
Fortunately, there is one option which is clinically proven to reduce or stop snoring completely – and couples are crediting it with ‘saving their marriages’.
Dr Derek is one of the UK’s most prolific creators of mandibular advancement devices; small appliances, which often look like gum shields or metal braces, to be worn overnight by the snorer. These devices work by stabilising the lower jaw or moving it slightly forward, to open up the airway and allow air to pass freely during sleep, essentially preventing snoring.
Dr Derek makes around 250 of these devices every year, and believes that they are responsible for turning the lives of many of his patients around.
‘It is phenomenal what a difference this small device can make,’ said Dr Derek.
‘Mandibular advancement devices, in a nutshell, simply push the chin forward whilst the wearer is sleeping, keeping the airways open and preventing the narrowing of the airway tubes that ultimately causes snoring and, in extreme cases, obstructive sleep apnoea.
‘Simply wearing this device overnight can transform bedtime for both the snorer and their partner, enabling both to experience a solid and restful nights’ sleep, often for the first time in years, and allow couples to sleep in the same bed again, confident that they will both have a relaxing sleep.’
Dr Derek encourages snorers to book a consultation for having their own mandibular advancement devices made, if snoring is causing an issue for them and their partners. Dr Derek creates a range of devices, costing from £800 upwards, but he believes that they are a priceless investment.
He added: ‘The devices are created so that wearers are still able to talk whilst wearing, and are designed to be as discreet and as comfortable as possible. Every device is made bespoke for each patient to ensure a perfect fit, and with correct care, they can last for up to 15 years. The cost per wear becomes minimal – but really, what price can you put on a decent nights’ sleep?’
For more from Dr Derek or to make an appointment, visit www.newtowndentalcare.co.uk.