It was 11pm, and of course, bed time for Mrs. Friday, a front desk employee in a commercial bank on Marina Street, Lagos Island, who lives in Abule Egba. Having left home early, with a hectic day, occasioned by stress from work, scolding by bosses, harsh and rude languages by customers, traffic jam, deafening horns of trucks and vehicles alike, she came back home, tired and could hardly eat.
According to her, the husband had waited for her return so they could go to bed together.
“We had a brief discussion, and I slept off without a good night message to him and my three-year old boy. I had slept for just about two hours when the resonating sound from my husband’s side began. That was not his first time anyway; he snores occasionally.
“Initially, I thought I could manage because I was too tired to move to another room. But when my son woke up and started crying, the situation assumed a terrible dimension.
“I had to stand up, attend to my baby while we both left the room. I didn’t bother to touch my husband so that he could change position because I discovered that anytime I do that, he seems to take the snoring to another dimension a short moment after.” Friday said.
Apart from the deafening sounds of vehicle horns, blaring sirens and other human activities that generate noise and make people uncomfortable during the day, another man-made noise that keeps some people awake when it is time to rest at night is snoring.
It escapes through the windows, jumps fences and finds its way through any available space to hunt neighbours when people snore with maximum volume at night.
Snoring could be soft and undisturbing, while some could be loud and frustrating. In most cases, it is seen as normal for men and abnormal for women, even though men do it more than women. However, no woman wants to be caught in the act, while men have ready-made excuses on why they snore.
Although, some people see snoring as a minor issue, it deprives people around them of sleep, causes dizziness and psychological imbalance during the daytime. Everyone who snores does so unwillingly and for different reasons.
While overweight, fat or obese people, children, older people and pregnant women are more likely to be culprits, stress is another cause of snoring. Hence, only a few people are free from this sleeping disorder.
Scientists say almost everybody, across all ages, snores occasionally, and investigations revealed that the habit has led to conflict in relationships and caused partners to relocate from one room to another in search of serenity.
Mr. Segun Awe (not real names) says snoring is something he has learnt to cope with over time.
“I have neighbours who snore, especially the fat ones. In fact, it seems they rotate it because the sound comes from different angles. Interestingly, my wife tells me that I snore too, occasionally.”
According to Dr. Anita Choudhary, middle-aged or older people who are obese or somewhat overweight are much more likely to snore habitually.
“The main reason for this is because the extra fat around the neck puts much more pressure and fat upon the breathing passageways of the back of the throat. Another increased cause for snoring is due to the obstruction of the nasal passages.
“Snoring is also known to increase during pregnancy, due to the extra weight gain that happens. This is definitely true toward the end of the pregnancy,” she said.
Apart from the internal system malfunction, Choudhary says when it comes to food, there could be problems with eating large heavy foods and even milk and dairy products late in the evening before bedtime, which could cause extra mucus in the throat that will cause snoring issues throughout the night.
An interaction with a cross section of people, across all age divides, who spoke to our correspondent, showed that most people snore. While some admit that they snore, others said they had been told at one time or the other by people who slept close to them that they snored.
Couples may avoid telling their partners how snoring unsettles them due to the embarrassment it could cause, but those affected by it lose sleep and pay for it later.
According to Lynn D’Andrea, a sleep specialist at the University of Michigan Medical School, United States, snoring is not an illness, but a symptom. “Just as a cough can be a symptom of pneumonia, snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a disorder characterised by snoring, laboured breathing and repetitive obstructed pauses or gasps in a person’s breathing during sleep.”
“The obstructed pauses result from complete obstruction or blockage of the airway and may be associated with decreases in oxygen levels. Typically, the obstruction is terminated by an arousal, that is, the snorer briefly wakes up which leads to fragmented, less restful sleep.
Before that simple but costly act compels your partner to leave the house for you, here are few tips identified by experts as easy solutions.
According to Daniel Slaughter, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas, USA, change of sleeping position from lying on the back to sleeping on the side could help. Also, weight loss could help some people, but not everyone because thin people snore too. Drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping makes snoring worse. “People who don’t normally snore would do so after drinking alcohol because alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of the throat,” she said.
Fatigue is another cause of snoring. Working long hours without enough sleep, for example, makes such persons overtired and sleep hard when eventually in bed. Opening of nasal passages could help prevent snoring. Slaughter says a clogged or narrowed nose due to a cold or other blockage could aid snoring due to the fast-moving air.
“A hot shower before going to bed could help open nasal passages. Also, keep a bottle of saltwater rinse in the shower, and rinse the nose out with it while showering to help open up the passages,” she said.
When last did you dust the overhead ceiling fan or replace your pillows? Allergens in the bedroom and in the pillow may contribute to snoring. Dust mites accumulate in pillows and can cause allergic reactions that can lead to snoring. Also, allowing pets to sleep on the bed could cause people to breathe in particles shed from the skin and fur of domestic animals, which is another common irritant. Slaughter advised people to replace their pillows every six months to keep dust mites and allergens to a minimum.
According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy women should have about 11 cups of total water (from all drinks and food) a day while men require about 16 cups. The institute adds that people should drink plenty of liquids as secretions in the nose and soft palate become stickier when people are dehydrated, which can create more snoring.
“Overall, get enough sleep, sleep on your side, avoid alcohol before bedtime and take a hot shower if nasal passages are clogged, these simple practices can make a huge difference in reducing snoring,” she said.