'Apparently I have been a very loud snorer over the years'
Case study 2: Lorraine Ward
Since she was in her mid-30's, Lorraine Ward had a problem with snoring. The mother of one says her snores were so loud that her 11-year-old son, Liam, would often inform her of the decibel levels in the household during the night. And if this wasn't proof enough of her issue, she had to endure listening to a recording of her loud snores which was made by friends to highlight the level of the problem.
Now 40, the Dublin woman has given up smoking and reduced the amount she used to eat and drink and this has resulted in her not only losing weight, but also fixing her snoring habit for good:
"Apparently I have been a very loud snorer over the years," says the crèche worker. "My partner (Maurice), my son Liam and my friends have all told me that I snored a lot but I didn't realise how bad it actually was until I was away with some friends and they recorded me to prove that I did make a lot of noise while I was sleeping.
"So I decided I had to do something to sort it out."
Lorraine made some lifestyle changes and this, she believes, is what helped her to stop snoring and feel healthier and fresher as a result.
"I had been eating like a queen and drinking plenty of wine so I knew I had to cut that down," she says. "I also gave up the smokes, which made a difference too. I lost my mam three years ago and that had a big effect on me and meant I wasn't sleeping well.
"But having made the decision to sort myself out, I started losing weight and have managed to shift 23lbs so far. I feel so much better in myself and am sleeping well so am not feeling sluggish at work - which was difficult when working with small children.
"Liam has said that I definitely don't snore anymore. But I'm going to have to work on Maurice who is a terrible snorer and needs to do something about it - hopefully he can get a bit of help with that and will be able to stop too; then we will have a totally peaceful house at night time."
Dr John O'Brien, expert in sleep and snoring difficulties, says while smoking may not have had a direct impact on Lorraine's issue with snoring, excess weight and alcohol may well have contributed to it.
"It is possible that smoking could cause some people to snore, but generally it will have minimal impact," he says. "However, drinking alcohol is a muscle relaxant which relaxes the smooth muscle at the back at the back of the throat causing problems with keeping the airwaves open fully which results in snoring.
"Likewise being overweight can cause people to snore as the excessive weight, particularly around the neck and throat, will restrict the airwaves."
And while men are far more likely to smoke than women, Dr O'Brien, who is based at the Crescent Clinic in Clontarf, Dublin, says once women hit a certain age, they are just as likely as men to snore.
"Men definitely snore more than women but everyone is more likely to snore as they get older and when women reach menopause they have the same chance of being a snorer as men.
"My advice to anyone who is worried about snoring would be to see their GP who will investigate to see if there is an underlying problem which needs to be dealt with."
Health & Living