All of us start life as good breathers and healthy babies can breathe easily and quietly through their noses. The normal breathing pattern can change without us being aware of it, and people who snore usually breathe more than normal, and often through their mouths rather than their noses. This change in breathing pattern is known as “plasticity”.
This is why over a period of time breathing can be transformed from something that is never noticed to something that keeps the snorer’s partner awake.
But snoring is not just a nuisance for the snorer’s bed partner; the snorer may also suffer from:
•Interrupted sleep during the night, and waking up un-refreshed (sleeping pills can make the problem worse in the long term)
•Excessive daytime fatigue
•Waking up with aching muscles or headaches
•Vivid dreams, nightmares or night sweats
•Blocked or runny nose, especially on waking
•Waking to urinate, or needing a drink, instead of sleeping right through the night
•Abnormal pauses in the breathing, or sleep apnoea
Snoring, or breathing heavily, pulls in extra cold, dry, unfiltered air through the mouth (the nose acts as a filter). This can irritate the delicate airway tissue, which responds by swelling and increasing production of mucus, narrowing the airways slightly, making it necessary to breathe with extra force than usual.
Moreover, during sleep the airways are more floppy than when awake and so they are more likely to vibrate, making the snoring sound if the breathing is too forceful.
The good news is that because of the plasticity, breathing can be changed back again to its former peaceful pattern.
The technical term for snoring is ‘Sleep Disordered Breathing’, which simply means an abnormal breathing pattern during sleep. An abnormal breathing pattern during sleep is also seen when awake, and vice versa. Because of both this fact and the plasticity of breathing, it is easy to see why correcting the breathing pattern when awake, also corrects it during sleep.
Learning the Buteyko method reduces breathing by an average 31% within 3 months, and as breathing reduces, symptoms decrease. So, correctly following the Buteyko programme so that breathing is normalised will stop the snoring. Just part way with changing the breathing will at the very least, reduce the noise substantially. Most people report that they are making less noise within the first 4 days. So the snorer and the bed partner get a good night’s sleep!