When it comes to stress and snoring, an endless cycle begins: stress can lead to interrupted sleep and snoring, and a disturbed sleeping pattern can lead to stress.
In a modern world, we lead increasingly busy lives. This can take its toll on how we sleep – a stressful day means we might find it difficult to switch off and fall asleep. But then frustratingly, a poor night’s sleep can cause stress. When snoring is added to this equation, the problem gets worse; it can keep a partner awake, and increase their level of stress.
Why does stress lead to snoring?
While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why stress leads to snoring, there are several factors that may contribute to it. When we’re stressed, our brain releases hormones like cortisol, GH and norepinephrine. These hormones increase tension, throw off our sleep cycles and make falling asleep much harder. Because of the psychological consequences of this, a build-up of stress can cause weight gain.
When we put on weight, fat tends to be stored around the neck. This extra weight puts pressure on the airway, and can partially (or completely) block it. Snoring is the end result – the blockage causes fast-travelling air to be pulled through the airway, making the soft tissue in the back of the throat vibrate.
Why is snoring so bad?
Stress and snoring reduces the quality of your sleep, and can make you feel fatigued and stressed the following day. Many other side effects are often associated with sleep apnoea – a serious health condition where the airway closes up completely at night. These side effects can include:
•Long periods of disturbed breathing
•Waking up a lot at night
•High blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack/stroke
If you suspect you have sleep apnoea, visit your doctor as soon as possible. For more information on sleep apnoea, click here.
How do I deal with stress and snoring?
Dealing with your stress is a good place to start. Diet and exercise are key when preventing a build-up of stress – during exercise, endorphins are released that put you in a better mood. Healthy foods like proteins and wholegrains can give you long-lasting energy and help you lose weight. This helps ease the pressure on your throat that might be constricting the airway.
Meditation is also a great way to de-stress and relax. Just 15 minutes before bed could help you avoid snoring; try to find a quiet place to sit and focus on your breathing.
If snoring is the cause of your stress, there are many options available to help you stop. Throat sprays, oral strips and lozenges all help to lubricate the throat and reduce the vibrations snoring causes. Nasal strips and nasal sprays help open up the airways in your nose so you can breathe more easily. An oral device gently moves your jaw into the right position, opening up the space at the base of your tongue so you can breathe better. For more information on finding the right snoring solution for you, click here.
Stress-related snoring can be extremely frustrating. It might be difficult to lower your stress levels, but the payoff will be huge – your sleep and your health will improve.