'I lost weight & stopped smoking'
Case study 1: George Finglas
George Finglas was diagnosed with sleep apnoea a year and a half ago and this, he discovered, was one of the reasons why he had an issue with snoring. Since making a decision to lose weight and succeeding in his ambition, the snoring has ceased and his wife is once again able to get a good nights' sleep.
"I was having awful trouble with snoring and my wife, Rosaleen, said I was making a lot of noise when I was sleeping," says the 64-year-old. "This was something that had just crept up on me over the years as I didn't always snore. So I went to see my doctor about 18 months ago as I knew something needed to be done, particularly as I was carrying a lot of extra weight on me.
"I was told that I had sleep apnoea, which is a condition where you stop breathing every so often while you are asleep - the danger being of course, that you don't start again. I was advised to lose some weight and was given a machine which I had to wear at night-time to help me breathe and reduce the snoring."
The retired council official, who was also warned that he was in danger of becoming a diabetic, found a weight loss support group and began to take his health and his wife's concern over his nocturnal noises seriously.
"I joined my local branch of Weight Watchers and although it was difficult at first to take the first step as soon as I got started, there was no stopping me," he says. "I changed my diet, replaced meat with fish and stopped eating late in the evening - then very quickly the weight began to fall off me. In fact, in just six months I lost 51lbs and my life was transformed. I am healthier and happier, I don't have a problem with sleep apnoea anymore and I have stopped snoring. Well apart from when I have a few pints, but I think that is just natural for any man.
"Rosaleen is delighted as her sleep isn't interrupted anymore with my loud snores and I am in better form when I wake up as I don't have a sore throat from snoring and I am more refreshed as I have had a better nights' sleep - so it's been positive for both of us."
Dr John O'Brien of the Crescent Clinic in Dublin says most people with sleep apnoea will snore and it is important for snorers to find out if they have this condition as it could be dangerous.
"I would say that 99pc of people with sleep apnoea have a problem with snoring because the nerves controlling the airwaves are not functioning properly and this causes people to snore," he says. "Anyone who has problems with very loud snoring or if they feel very tired during the day should ask their doctor to check that they don't have sleep apnoea as this has a greatly increased risk of dying from a heart problem or stroke if left unchecked. So they need to be properly diagnosed."
The snoring expert says while excess weight isn't the only reason why people snore it is a big determining factor.
"Although not everyone who has a weight problem is a snorer and indeed many people who aren't overweight can snore, but being overweight can be one of the reasons for snoring," he says. "Anyone with big jowls, weight around their neck or even a big stomach can have their airways restricted when they lie down and this will lead to snoring.
"So losing weight is always a good thing and if it doesn't cure a snoring problem, then I would advise a trip to the GP to make sure there isn't anything more serious going on."
Health & Living