One man’s quest for a quiet night by Robin Kermode, Daily Mail Good Health 13 November 2007
Snoring facts and snoring effects:
- 25% of British couples say ‘snoring ruins their sex lives’
- Snorers have 30% less sex than non snorers.
- 10% say they have even considered divorce.
- 40% of one night stands end because of incompatibility relating to sleep and snoring habits.
- Nocturnal noises cause relationship problems.
- 90% of snorers are male, 10% are women.
- Dissatisfied women partners are the main instigators who search for stop snoring remedies.
Hardly surprising, then, that some people spend a fortune trying to stop it.
In this article, Robin Kermode writes for the Daily Mail describing his personal odyssey to find a cure for his nightly drone:
Robin’s nasty habit that kept his partner awake and he wrote:.
Last year, the problem got progressively worse and, although she was really understanding, however I’d regularly end up in the spare room in the middle of the night.
Single people snore, too, of course – it’s just that there’s no one there to tell them they’re doing it.
Jokes aside, the effects of snoring can be disastrous for a relationship. So when I read an article pointing out that snorers can have up to 30 per cent less sex than non-snorers, I rushed to my laptop and started Googling to find a cure.
First I tried Cure Snore, two glass jars placed next to the bed filled with a herbal liquid that produced special vapours. You breathe in the fumes, which are supposed to “fill the loose tissue at the back of the throat with blood and stop them sagging and vibrating”.
It all sounded a bit unpleasant, but I did find the aroma incredibly relaxing, which meant I slept really heavily for a few nights – and snored even louder.
The blurb said the jars would last for up to six months of continual use, but they seemed to evaporate in under two weeks. Then I discovered that my girlfriend’s eight-year-old daughter Cressida had used the solutions to make magic potions in the bath. The empty jars now stand on the bathroom shelf, stuffed with conkers.
So I Googled some more and found the “anti-snoring pillow”. It was like a large square polo mint with an inflatable centre, which apparently lifts the angle of the neck, opening up the airways during sleep. It was reasonably comfortable and I eventually got used to the new neck angle, but my girlfriend assured me it made very little difference to my snoring.
I did read that a German scientist had invented a pneumatic version of the snoring pillow linked to a computer. As soon as you started snoring the computer worked out the best angle for your neck and adjusted the pillow angle accordingly, but I think it was only a prototype.
I tried several throat and nasal sprays designed to clear your breathing passages. They worked initially, but I seemed to get used to the chemicals and after a few days the effect diminished.
Stop snoring: Nocturnal noises can cause relationship problems
The same was true with sprays designed specifically for colds, such as Sudafed. They worked brilliantly for a few days but, as the label clearly states, long-term use is not recommended. In fact it makes nasal congestion worse.
Then I tried the snoring “plug”. It uses menthol vapours, heated from a plug socket. My partner complained that the smell was reminiscent of a hospital, so it was eventually unplugged and put back in its box.
Nasal strips were more promising. These are sticky-backed plastic strips which are supposed to attach to the outside of each side of the nostril, effectively pulling them wide apart during the night to open up the airways. Good idea in theory but now I looked like Adam Ant.
And I didn’t find them nearly sticky enough to stay on, rendering them useless if there was any oil on the skin and pretty nigh pathetic with the use of face cream (sorry, male grooming cream).
The most extraordinary-looking device was the snoring cap, an ingenious Heath Robinson series of straps that fitted over the head and under the jaw.
It was supposed to pull the jaw forward and open up the back of the throat, but it made me look ridiculous and my girlfriend just got hysterics.
It might be acceptable in the scrum on a Saturday afternoon with the lads, but not exactly a thrill for your partner – well, not mine, in any case.
As none of these external cures worked, it was time to be brave and treat the problem internally.
The oral strips had a promising start – looking like tiny sheets of rice paper which you place on the roof of the mouth before sleeping, they dissolve during the night, lubricating the soft tissue at the back of the mouth and reducing the possibility of noisy vibration.
Robin Kermode even tried a snoring ‘plug’
They seemed to work at first, but as they dissolved, the effect wore off. I wasn’t mad on the overall sensation either, and they seemed to give me a temporary speech impediment.
Apparently, 67 per cent of snorers said they were cured by a mandibular advancement device – a sort of plastic mouthguard which fits over your teeth to bring the lower jaw forward – so I thought I’d give it a go.
When it arrived I had to dunk it in boiling water for 30 seconds and then bite on it hard for two minutes, as it moulds to the shape of your teeth. When worn at night it pulls the jaw forward, changing the way you breathe.
It really did help with the snoring, but every time I wore it I felt like it was some sort of punishment. And it was impossible to speak when it was in place. Obviously I popped it into my mouth after our nightly conjugals, but once inserted, I couldn’t even manage a final “goodnight”. Her: “Sleep well.” Me: “Ugghh.” Her: “Love you.” Me: “Mmmm.” You get the picture.
Another downside was that my teeth tingled for most of the following morning as if they’d been pulled all night in a direction they didn’t want to go, so the feeling of being punished continued right through to lunchtime.
Luckily I was let off this regimen when my girlfriend’s son Nicholas, aged 11, took it to school one morning by mistake, thinking it was his rugby mouth guard. As soon as he realised what it was and that it had been in my mouth all night, he dropped it as fast as he could in the nearest bin with a shriek.
After six months of failed treatments – and almost £300 out of pocket – I decided it really was time to do some proper research.
I found that there are three main causes of snoring. Blocked nasal passages, a misaligned jaw, or a “floppy” uvula (that thing that hangs down at the back of your throat). As treating the first two causes hadn’t worked, it was time for drastic action.
That’s when I heard about laser procedure – LAUP (Laserassisted uvulopalatoplasy) – to tighten the uvula area, so that it vibrates far less during sleep.
Apparently 20,000 people have had this treatment and took courage did the internet search to find that the LAUP procedure actually removes the uvula and is extremely painful. Apparently, the uvula does provide a bodily function in that it prevent drink and partially digested food from following back up your throat and coming out through your nose. Other side effects are that patients experience a strange sensation in the mouth and are left with an unnatural looking black hole in their mouth, not to mention the considerable cost.
I was finally introduced to radio frequency procedure that seem to avoid all the side effects of the laser and was less then half the cost so I went along for a consultation
It was explained that as you hit your late 40s, your uvula stretches (unlike other parts of the body, sadly). As the air rushes past this stretched piece of flesh it vibrates, causing the snoring noise.
The cheaper option it was, then. When I told my partner I was booked in for the radio treatment, she burst into tears.
She said it was the kindest thing anyone had ever done for her and couldn’t believe that I was prepared to go through elective surgery for her. She couldn’t think of one of her friends’ husbands who would be prepared to do that.
So with ten brownie points in hand, I set off for my RF session. It had been suggested that I eat before the surgery, as I might not feel like it afterwards. Unfortunately, I’d chosen to have a large curry for lunch, and the gag reflex came into play fairly quickly.
But the ENT Consultant was very understanding and the procedure was as painless as he had promised, just leaving a slightly sore throat for a few weeks as the healing progressed.
Six weeks after the RF treatment, the results were extremely good. Apparently I do still snore occasionally if I stray on to my back, or if I’ve had a couple of glasses of red wine before going to bed, but on the whole I’m very pleased with the overall effect. And so is my partner.
In fact, she’s so happy that I’ve now forgotten what colour the spare room curtains are.