Sleep disrupted by snoring? Here’s how to block snoring out and start getting the rest you need
Getting enough sleep at night is essential to our health and well-being. Statistics from the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association show an estimated 40% of adults snore at night, and most of us will snore at some point in our lives, so we’re taking a closer look at what’s going on during your noisy sleep. Is snoring detrimental to our health, or just to the sleep of those we snore next to at night?
Are you a snorer?
As the snorer, any indication your noisy sleep is causing problems might only come from the occasional elbow in the ribs from your sleepless bedfellow. But snoring can be an indicator of additional health problems.
Snoring is often the first symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. OSA is a common sleep disorder, affecting an estimated 1.5 million adults in the UK, and 1 billion adults globally. The condition causes you to stop breathing in your sleep; as the muscles around your throat relax during rest, your airways can become narrowed or cut off, causing you to stop breathing altogether. Up to 85% of sufferers go undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, putting their health at major risk of more serious conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Many people with OSA often don’t realise they have it, dismissing symptoms such as loud snoring complaints from partners, daytime sleepiness, and waking up with a headache.
To help prevent snoring, here are a few tips you can try:
- Try an anti-snore pillow: ergonomically designed to support the head and neck, anti-snore pillows improve breathing flow.
- Try specialist sleep earbuds or headphones: Sometimes you can be woken up by the sound of your own snoring. If that happens, the right earbuds have been shown to work better than earplugs in protecting you from disturbance. In addition to passive isolation (the blocking of noise), some headphones carry the added benefit of noise masking: the playing of an additional ‘background’ noise tuned to mask out and reduce the sensitivity of your hearing to snoring. Studies have shown that noise masking encourages sleep, meaning you’re less likely to be disturbed and can enjoy a better quality of sleep.
- Change your sleeping position: Sleeping on your back means your tongue is likely to fall back and block your airways, causing that all too familiar vibrating noise during sleep. Elevating the head, or switching to your side, better opens your airways. If you really struggle try to tape a tennis ball to your pyjamas: Not just an old wive’s tale, the tennis ball stops you from rolling onto your back.
- Adopt healthier habits: Being overweight can be a major factor in snoring. Only a few extra kilograms on the scales means more tissue around the neck, contributing to the problem. It’s also a common misconception that alcohol helps you to sleep; if anything, alcohol relaxes the throat muscles more, making the condition worse.
- Keep the bedroom air moist: Allergies and upper-respiratory illness can be a key catalyst for some to start snoring. Adding moisture to the air reduces mucus on the chest, encouraging drainage, and reducing airway blockages. A humidifier sends a gentle mist into the room to sooth airways, preventing sore throats, and acting as an air filter by taking out snoring-encouraging allergens.
Sleep with a snorer? Snoring keeping you up?
Snoring, of course, isn’t just about the snorer - those who sleep next to a snoring partner can often find it hard to fall asleep. 40% of us even claim to be regularly woken from sleep by a snoring partner.
For some, the problem can be so disturbing that the only answer is to sleep in a different room. There are also many anti-snoring devices on the market, but finding the right solution can be difficult.
What can you do if your sleep is disturbed by snoring?
- Blocking Noise. Traditionally this would involve foam earplugs which mould to your ear canal and provide an acoustic seal to reduce the amplitude of audio that reaches your inner ear. Whilst earplugs are cheap there are much more effective solutions, such as sleep headphones
- Adding White Noise: Although it might seem like adding noise to a noisy environment wouldn’t work, consistent sounds like coloured noise have the same effect on the mind as a quiet environment. Intermittent sounds - barking dogs, traffic passing, or sirens - kicks our brain into action and causes us to wake up. Coloured noise tunes our minds to a steady, consistent hum throughout the night. Whilst white noise machines can work well your sleeping partner might not enjoy the sounds too.
- Distraction : If the low hum of masking sounds doesn’t work, it might also be possible to distract your mind with other sounds. Audio books, podcasts or nature sounds - including rain, and soft waves on the beach - are a firm favourite of ours. As well as helping slightly mask the noise it can help take your mind off any annoying sounds keeping you up!
- Sleep earbuds or headphones: Everyone’s heads and ear canals are different, and it can be hard to find a pair of headphones that fit comfortably for everyone, particularly for sleep. To avoid tangled wires in the sheets, we recommend wireless Bluetooth earbuds. They’re safe to sleep in, and offer personalised sound experiences to block out any external noises.
Our Kokoon Relax and Nightbuds headphones work with the MyKokoon app to combine passive noise isolation, noise masking and bed-friendly comfort. If you’re a side sleeper, we recommend Nightbuds; as the world’s thinnest headphones, they’re designed for all-night-long wear. It’s what makes them the best headphones for sleeping: not only do they mask out snoring and other external noises, but they do so without waking your sleeping partner.
Together, Active Noise Cancellation and Passive Noise Isolation are great ways to help reduce the amount of noise you hear, but Noise Masking is the crucial link to a night of undisturbed sleep - no matter how loud those snores get.
Our app, MyKokoon, provides intelligent noise masking, specifically optimised to protect from snoring. With Kokoon Relax or Nightbuds headphones, you can configure audio from other apps - including Spotify and Audible - to fade out into coloured noise as they detect you’re asleep, making sure you remain undisturbed from unwanted snuffles.
Rather than debating who should sleep in the separate room, who wears a tennis ball to bed, or who gets the Nightbuds, why not settle in with us and treat each other to a couple’s pair of Kokoons?