There are a lot of unpleasant things about getting older. Even those who do their best to age gracefully are likely to suffer some degree of aches, pains and struggle eventually.
Most of our readers know that insomnia is often a symptom as much as a cause. In fact, most of us have spent a lot of time with treatment pros to see if we can solve the root issue that makes sleep so elusive.
Sleeplessness & Snoring Aren’t as Distinct as They May Seem
If you’ve ever shared a bed with a problem snorer, your first thought was probably that they sure were sleeping better than you. It’s tough enough having insomnia without adding an irritating noise to the mix!
But here’s the thing. Most snorers NEVER get a restful night.
The snoring sound comes from the throat’s soft tissue as it “relaxes” just enough to close off their airway. That’s why you’ll often hear them make one final significant grunt and wake up.
The restricted breathing puts their body in a lot of understandable distress, and the brain wakes them up when it senses the panic building. It’s a terrible problem, and it has dire consequences in the long-term.
When you go horizontal and relax into sleep, the airway can block itself
That’s why most snorers walk around like zombies. They don’t feel any more rested than we insomniacs do.
On top of that, they’re likely causing permanent damage to vital organs like the heart. It compounds as we age and begin to have trouble keeping extra weight off.
Why the Warning Here?
It turns out that research shows we insomniacs have the same tendency to be overweight. And a surprising portion of us ARE snorers who experience apnea-like symptoms that jolt us awake too.
A sleep study can help you determine if that’s happening. It seems pretty unfair that we could “age into” a dangerous combination of sleeplessness AND sleep apnea, but it’s not a rarity and you don’t want it left untreated.
What are the Options?
Honestly, weight loss CAN fix a lot of snoring problems. Those extra pounds are likely to make your airway restricted just because there’s more fatty tissue.
But it doesn’t always solve the problem, and many people just can’t shed the extra weight. That’s why CPAP machines exploded on the scene a couple decades back.
If you’ve ever seen someone hooked up to one of these contraptions, you’ve got plenty of incentive to try avoiding it. As much as your spouse wants you to stop interrupting their own sleep, it makes for a pretty non-romantic bedroom mood.
I Turned to an Alternative and it Fixed My Snoring AND Insomnia
My wife was so frustrated with my sleep issues that she suggested a sleep study and talking to my doc about getting a CPAP. I dreaded it, but falling asleep at my desk during work hours was a miserable feeling.
Luckily, my sleep study showed that I was just on the edge of qualifying for a CPAP. Although I do fight the ol’ spare tire like most middle-aged guys, I wasn’t at the overall weight level to qualify.
So, my alternative seemed to be to pay several hundred dollars a month out of my own pocket for a CPAP or gain another 15-18 pounds just to qualify for it to be covered by my insurance. Both options were pretty bleak.
Eureka Ideas Don’t Come My Way Very Often
I don’t have a lot of great ideas. And you have to remember that, at this point, I was a walking zombie from either zero sleep or snoring my brains out.
But I was watching a college football game one day and saw one of the players wearing a breathing strip across his nose. That was my Eureka! moment.
Except it didn’t work. At all.
It turns out that the airway restriction I had was unrelated to my sinuses/nostrils. In fact, even though the majority of people breathe through their noses while awake, they pretty much revert to mouth breathing when they drift off.
Different airway. Wrong passage. A waste of $8.
But, in Googling why those strips weren’t working, I found out that there’s a whole world of anti-snoring devices out there that get great reviews and don’t cost very much.
The best buyer comments were for mouthpieces that you wear overnight. Most of them are shaped like dentures, but with sides that slip over your own teeth so that it doesn’t come loose while you sleep.
I’m not going to fib on this – it looked like they’d be uncomfortable. One even held your tongue in what looks like a forward bubble and it gave me the shivers just imagining it.
Long story short, I kept studying the features and reviews until I settled on one that could gently hold my jaw a bit forward while I slept. It keeps that airway from closing off when you drift off and begin breathing through your throat.
The one I picked was the $99 SnoreRx Plus, and it needed a bit of simple customizing the day I received it. You don’t need any handyman skills to get it ready.
This side-angle gives you a sense of how you ‘dial-in’ the perfect fit
The first night was weird wearing it. The material itself is perfectly comfortable, but I just wasn’t used to trying to go to sleep with something unfamiliar in my mouth.
I still got to sleep pretty quickly and by night #2 the strangeness of having it in was gone. You know, I really thought I’d have a sore lower jaw in the morning but never felt any of that.
I doubt it would work for someone who has a super-bad underlying issue that makes them snore, but it’s a great device for the rest of us. I’ll put a link up above so you can read more about how it works from the people that helped me understand how it works.
You’re probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind writing a blog post for snorers on a blog for insomniacs. But here’s the BIG THING:
I’ve had significant sleep deprivation issues since I was a teenager in college. Pro-level insomnia, right?
All but gone.
My worst nights now are needing an hour or two to get to sleep when I first climb in bed. And that’s not very often at all.
Generally, a dry audiobook can shorten that to just minutes. And I don’t wake up until the blasted alarm clock does its evil deed in the morning.
Work is better. My wife is back to sleeping like a champ.
So, my $100 solution is still going strong. It’s not going to last forever, though.
It’s been almost a year and looks good enough to imagine that I won’t have to replace it for another year too.
I can’t promise you the same success, but I can say you really don’t have much to lose. Even the mouthpiece has a 30-day guarantee.
Whatever you do, I wish you better health and rest. Keep your questions and comments coming. I might be sleeping well now, but I always leave the light on for you. Don’t give up!