Childcare and You

Childcare and You

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snore or a Roar?

Snoring has earned the dubious honor of breaking relationships and I can understand why. My husband snores….loudly and no, we have not separated. People say you will not snore if you sleep on any one side. But I beg to differ because my husband snores on any side although I have not been able to figure out how his snoring stops, albeit momentarily, the minute I touch him. Men rarely admit that they snore and believe that women are lying when they say otherwise.

I suppose everyone snores but volume is the key. Some people snore very softly and it is not so loud as to disturb their partner/spouse. But there are others that can wake up the dead with their snoring. Some of them end up waking themselves up.

Snoring can be cured provided you are able to find out the root cause of snoring. Neglecting to treat the problem can affect your sleep and ultimately, your health. You will become irritable, tired and moody and your productivity at work will also suffer, not to mention your productivity at home.

Snoring occurs when the soft palate situated behind the roof of your mouth, vibrates during sleep. When you lie on your back, your tongue relaxes, falls back into your mouth and obstructs smooth breathing.

Age, physique, sinus, heavy weight, smoking, alcohol and medications are some of the causes for snoring. It is normal to snore as you get older because your throat becomes narrower and your throat muscle loses its tone. Men with narrower throat, enlarged adenoids and a cleft palate snore more. Besides, sinus and blocked nasal passages make it hard to breathe in air smoothly, on account of which there is a vacuum in your throat, leading you to snore. 

Men snore more than women because men generally have larger jaws with more room behind their tongues, due to which the tongue falls back more and obstructs breathing when they are sleeping deeply, as opposed to women with smaller  and slightly recessed jaws, due to which there is less room for the normal sized tongue to fall back.

Some tips to stop snoring are to change your position while sleeping, lose excess body weight, stop smoking and drinking alcohol, keep your bedroom air moist (dry air can irritate your nose and throat), avoid eating a heavy meal, especially dairy products, just before going to bed, as they may build up mucus in your throat and block your nasal passages. Avoid drinking too much caffeine.

Regularize your sleeping patterns. Put a couple of drops of melted warm ghee (clarified butter) in both your nostrils in the morning and before bedtime. Ujjaye breathing in yoga is very effective to strengthen your throat and treat snoring as well.(read Pranayam – Yogic Breathing for Your Body and Soul). 

If you are suffering from adenoid or any other chronic allergic respiratory problems, then you must get treatment for that. Clogged nose may force you to breathe through your mouth. Practice ‘pranayam’ (yoga breathing exercises) for a complete clearing up of all respiratory blockages.

It would be a good idea to use an anti-snoring mouth guard that will bind your teeth together in order to prevent your jaw muscles from relaxing too much. Elevate the upper part of your body as opposed to keeping your body flat on the bed. Prop your head and shoulders over pillows to reduce pressure and prevent your tongue from flopping back.

I have heard some people say that playing the didgeridoo (a musical instrument made out of a long, hollow log that gives out a low and deep musical rhythm) can help in strengthening your jaw and throat muscles. It may sound strange but you could try the didgeridoo or any other blowing musical instrument like the saxophone.

  man playing the didgeridoo

I recall a funny incident that happened years ago, when I was at school. My uncle (my father’s brother) is a terrible snorer. The funny thing about him is that he would snore only after he went to bed at night and not during his afternoon nap. A selective snorer. He would hit the bed around 10.30 pm and by 11 pm, his snore would resonate around the room. It was an enviable imitation of a steam engine just pulling out of the platform. Another odd thing was that, although he would be up the next morning by 7 or so, his snoring would stop a couple of hours before he got out of bed, at 5 am itself.

One day, my father had the misfortune of sharing a room with him. He had barely started to close his eyes when my uncle started snoring. My dad spent the entire night tossing about trying to sleep through the loud roar. 

At last morning came. It was nearly 5. My dad tiredly pulled himself out of bed to get ready to go to work when he realized that my uncle had stopped snoring, although he continued to sleep, blissfully unaware of my dad's darkening face. My dad was so furious that he shook my uncle awake and shouted, ‘How dare you stop snoring now after keeping me up the whole night. You better keep on snoring or I’ll choke you’. 

My uncle, poor man, woke up, still groggy with sleep, wondering what the noise was all about. He peered up at my father through half closed eyes and grumbled, “What is going on? Why did you wake me up? I hardly slept a wink last night. Did you know that you snore? ”

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