Snoring is a common problem. It occurs when the flap of muscular tissue at the back of the throat known as the soft palate vibrates irregularly.
It affects one's ability to breathe through the nose and can be brought on by various factors such as diet, your breathing, stress levels, and the physical environment.
Often people can't remember when they started to snore but it seems to be more common as people get older and as they gain weight. Women often find it gets worse during the menopause.
At the very least it can be embarrassing but it can also be very dangerous. People who snore tend not to get quality sleep and are often tired and lethargic. It can make driving and operating machinery precarious.
Snoring can also put a tremendous strain on relationships and many married couples have had to resort to separate bedrooms just to survive.
My autistic son snores - not all the time but sufficiently often to make you glad you're not sharing a room with him.
Much of his problem is that he sleeps on his back and it is much worse when he has a cold or hay fever.
Last year we took him away for a festival of inclusion weekend for people with disabilities. We stayed in what was generously described as a "Youth Hostel".
Actually it was the same troop accommodation used during the second world war and apart from indoor toilets and showers not much appeared to have changed.
However, groups from three different regions stayed there and men and women were supposed to sleep in different chalets.
In order for you to appreciate the problem with this arrangement you have to understand that the very nature of the weekend meant the people there had diverse special needs.
The carers of course were okay, but one group made up entirely of men were cared for by two women. Obviously, this created problems as far as supervision was concerned so the more able male in that special needs group was assigned the role of supervisor.
He, however had major problems himself, and was also having a passionate relationship with a female member of the same special needs group. Let's just say his mind was on other things!
Anyway, the group my son was in, together with this other group of men were placed in the same chalet. It was the hottest weekend of the year and one particular chap refused to have the doors or windows open.
In his monotone voice he repeatedly told anyone who would listen, "I don't like moths" so that was it.
The room remained hot and airless. It was uncomfortable to say the least.
There were fourteen bunk beds in each chalet and some of the men were big chaps. The one who slept directly opposite to my son had severe learning problems and was asthmatic. He also suffered from nightmares and requested one of our carers to wake him up if he had one.
On the first night he did which was actually a good thing because it meant that he'd been asleep. On the second night, however, things were much different.
Throughout the day the groups had enjoyed various activities in the heat of the sun and during the evening they'd attended an ABBA tribute band concert. Everyone had thoroughly enjoyed themselves and had a great time. It was late when they returned to the stuffy, uncomfortable accommodation.
The chap who suffered from nightmares was very sunburned. Obviously no-one had thought to apply any sun protection on him throughout the day. Also, he'd been drinking and was very distressed because he couldn't find his inhaler. It took some time before he was ready to settle down to sleep.
My son on the other hand had no such problems and was soon horizontal snoring loudly.
The chap who up to that point had been like a gentle giant changed dramatically and when his requests for my son to stop snoring fell on deaf ears he leapt out of his bunk said he was going to "Kill" him.
He most likely would have too if the leader of our group didn't happen to come in the room just at that moment with a replacement for the chap's inhaler.
Realising what he's almost done the chap was horrified and spent the rest of the night in the coffee area where it was quieter.
Meanwhile, my son snored on blissfully unaware how close he had been to dying.
So you see - snoring can seriously damage your health!
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Jean Shaw is the author of I'm Not Naughty - I'm Autistic and Autism, Amalgam and Me www.jeanshaw.com
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