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Snoring – Causes and solutions to stop snoring

Snoring is something that, directly or indirectly, affects the majority of us – and it is a common condition. Perhaps you don’t snore yourself, but your partner does – which disturbs a good night’s sleep for both of you.

Some couples have separate bedrooms as a result of a snoring problem: something that most people don’t want to talk about. This is what is meant by social snoring.

Moreover, the number of people that suffer from suspension of breathing, apnoea, is larger than was earlier thought. A person suffering from apnoea syndrome; may have hundreds of pauses in their breathing each night – each followed by a ’mini wake-up’ and a reduction of the oxygen levels in the blood: something that leads to serious health risks. [1] 

Few people are aware of their night-time breathing interruptions until first alerted to it when they have shared a bedroom with someone else.

In this section we will look at the most common symptoms, and risks, of snoring and apnoea. We will also explain what causes snoring and apnoea syndrome, as well as describe the effect that the new neuromuscular training device, IQoro, can have on this problem.

IQoro is a new and unique neuromuscular treatment method that requires just 30 seconds’ exercise, three times per day.

Snoring among men and women

Most of us know someone who snores or is disturbed at night time by a partner who snores, this is called social snoring.

It is twice as common that men snore compared with women. A study of 1075 UK citizens concluded that an approximate total (of) 14.9 million adults snore with 10.4 million being males and 4.5 million females.  

These figures vary, depending on which age groups are studied: the proportion with loud and disturbing snoring increases with age. The highest prevalence of snoring occurs in the age range 50 to 60 years old, where 25 percent of men, and 15 percent of women, snore every night.

It is the female hormone oestrogen that accounts for the difference – probably having a protective effect, and the fact that overweight tends to affect the sexes differently: men with a more central excess fat distribution around the middle and neck.

Many snore when pregnant

Snoring during the last trimester is very common. About 20 percent of all pregnant women are snoring during their pregnancy and most common during the last trimester. Researchers in Umeå in Sweden have shown that pregnant women that snore run twice the risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.  

Sleep apnoea – nocturnal breathing suspension [1]

Swedish research leads the world in obstructive apnoea, repeated breathing suspension during sleep. Research results show that apnoea has a correlation with several serious conditions including: raised blood pressure, heart and artery problems, diabetes and depression. [3, 1] There is also a correlation between apnoea and traffic accidents.

To be classified as apnoea the breathing suspension must have a duration of at least 10 seconds. In a person with severe apnoea this can occur up to 600 times in one night.

The British Lung Foundation, in a 2015 survey found that “OSA is common, affecting an estimated 1.5 million adults in the UK, and yet up to 85 percent are undiagnosed, therefore untreated.”
Download Toolkit for commissioning and planning local NHS services in the UK here.

A new Swedish study even claims that apnoea is far more common than was previously believed: as many as 50 percent of all women between 20 and 70 years old suffer from apnoea. The condition is more prevalent in people who are overweight or with high blood pressure, and also becomes more common with age. [4]

With sleep apnoea syndrome the apnoea causes daytime tiredness. Despite the fact that it appears in both men and women, it is more common amongst men. At least 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women suffer from sleep apnoea syndrome.

Two types of sleep apnoea

Air pathway obstruction can also occur in children. It is not normal that children snore and therefore an examination of the nose and pharynx should always be carried out. The most common reason for apnoea in children is enlarged tonsils or adenoids which can block the upper air pathways.

1. Central sleep apnoea

People with central apnoea do not snore. The condition is typified by total- or partial reduction of the nerve impulses to the breathing muscles. During the interruptions to breathing, which last at least 10 seconds, the breathing movements first increase and then successively reduce to a central apnoea completely without chest movements. During an apnoea the body makes no attempt to inhale air.

The underlying reasons for central apnoea are fairly unknown, as are its consequences and how it can be treated.

2. Obstructive sleep apnoea

A person who has obstructive apnoea snores, and has a narrowed upper air pathway: this causes daytime tiredness. The breathing movements are vigorous during the breathing suspension, but the person gets no air because the upper air pathway is blocked, often because the tongue has fallen backwards, or because of enlarged tonsils or enlarged adenoids.

Being overweight is also common reason, even if a large proportion of apnoea sufferers are not overweight. Fat deposits around the neck can increase the risk for blocking the air pathways because the area from the nose to the vocal cords consists only of soft tissue, muscles and fatty tissue which cannot hold the pathway open.

Symptoms of snoring with apnoea syndrome [1, 2]

It is not always the case that a person is aware of his snoring or his apnoea, often because many live alone. It is common that a person can live many years with the condition without being aware of it, perhaps only uncovered during a trip with a friend, or a visit to the doctor for some other reason.

Common symptoms of apnoea syndrome are:

  • Snoring.
  • Abnormal daytime tiredness.
  • Dryness of the mouth.
  • Pain in the pharynx in the mornings.
  • Disturbed sleep.
  • Urinating several times per night.
  • Mood swings.
  • Waking during the night with the sensation of suffocation.
  • A feeling of never being rested.
  • Prone to fall asleep in various every day situations.
  • Become easily tired when driving, or as a passenger in a car.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Headache in the morning.
  • Acidic indigestion.
  • Coughing at night.
  • Giddiness.

Underlying reasons for snoring, with or without sleep apnoea [1, 2]

Breathing is a natural process, and not something that one would normally think about: but it is a complex procedure. Breathing in and out is controlled by signals from the breathing centre in the lower part of the brain stem: partly by various reflexes, but it can also be controlled voluntarily.

When awake and inhaling, the muscles in the walls of the pharynx react and widen reflexively. When we sleep, the muscles relax whereupon the walls of the pharynx become more or less slack and more sensitive to changes in pressure. In some individuals the muscle activity is so slight that they cannot manage to hold the airway open during inhalation. The low pressure formed when breathing in, can cause the walls of the pharynx to be pressed inwards until they collapse together completely.

This, in combination with reduced muscle tension in the soft palate – a muscle situated behind the hard palate and next to the pharynx – and the tongue which can then fall backwards, fatty deposits in the upper airways, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids in the nose can all result in a constricted upper air pathways, and thus snoring.

The noise made when snoring, comes from the vibrations that occur when the air pathway in the pharynx is too narrow and the soft palate begins to vibrate. In extreme cases a snorer can reach 80 dB. In some cases the upper pathway is blocked completely during inhalation, which results in an suspension of breathing: a sleeping apnoea.

Why do people snore, or have sleeping apnoea:

  • Due to poor health, or being overweight.
  • Unhealthy eating- or alcohol habits.
  • Muscle relaxant drugs, for example: sleeping tablets.
  • Inherited, or medically-induced factors that cause narrowed nostrils, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
  • Slack musculature in the pharynx and air pathways.
  • Various sicknesses or conditions including: lack of thyroid hormone (hypothyreos), diabetes, rheumatism, stroke, overweight, increased blood pressure and blood and artery sicknesses.
  • Smoking, or passive smoking.

Diagnosing sleeping apnoea syndrome [1]

Many feel unsure how to go about discovering if one is suffering from sleep apnoea. Especially those that live alone and do not have someone to notice possible nocturnal breathing suspension.

If you have a problem, or suspect you have a problem, with snoring or sleep apnoea the usual process is that you visit your local clinic or practitioner, who then refers you to a specialist clinic for sleep investigation.

These clinics are usually situated in the hospital’s Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department, or lung department. You can also discuss snoring and suspected sleep apnoea syndrome with your dentist who can also refer you for a sleep investigation.

Current treatments of sleep apnoea syndrome [1]

There are different methods of treating snoring and sleep apnoea. When choosing the correct treatment, several factors play a role: the severity of the apnoea, the age of the patient and other condition present including heart and circulation problems.

The most common treatment for sleep apnoea syndrome is CPAP Continuous Positive Airway Pressure – a mask that creates high-pressure – or an oral appliance for sleep apnoea: both compensate for the reduced breathing ability. The patient is, however, tied to using his CPAP or oral appliance every night.

Doctor Eje: “I finally got rid of my snoring”

Eje Åhlander, a doctor, has snored for many years, with night-time breathing interruption (sleep apnoea) at times, too. The solution for him was IQoro, a neuromuscular training device and regime.

My wife was badly affected by my snoring even though I wasn’t. That didn’t feel good. Read Eje’s story

CPAP – high pressure breathing mask

CPAP is the most effective treatment for the symptoms of medium- and severe cases of sleep apnoea. Simply stated, you wear a facemask at night which forces air in, and makes your breathing pathways open.

Some people find the CPAP mask noisy and difficult to sleep with, others can be disturbed by the pipes, or a mask that doesn’t fit properly. Therefore it is important to have an individually tested and fitted mask. [1]

Oral appliance for sleep apnoea

In cases of slight- to medium sleep apnoea, an oral appliance against snoring or apnoea is a common treatment alternative, as it is also for severe sleeping apnoea in those cases where other treatment methods cannot be tolerated. Such an oral appliance can be tested at a dentist who has special competence in this area. It pushes the lower jaw forward and in this way eases breathing when you sleep. [1]

People with such an oral device should be aware that it is fundamentally a tooth regulation apparatus that is being put in the mouth, and that it will move teeth to some extent. Because the lower jaw is pushed forward during the night time the treatment can, in time, promote an underbite. For those that had a normal bite from the beginning, this is of course undesirable. Such changes, however, occur slowly and can be followed up by a responsible dentist. This can sometimes lead to the oral appliance treatment having to be terminated. [1]

Surgical intervention

Surgery is nowadays an unusual treatment, good clinical studies of the effectiveness of the treatment are few, and side-effects are common after an operation on the soft palate. Surgery can, however, be appropriate on children if their sleep apnoea is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids in the nose.

Enlarged tonsils in adults with sleep apnoea are also often recommended for surgical intervention. [1]

IQoro – a neuromuscular method to stop snoring

IQoro is a new and unique neuromuscular treatment method that takes just 30 seconds’ exercise, three times per day. It has been shown through many scientific studies that it can effectively train the musculature that is involved when we eat, swallow and breathe. Today, after more than 20 years’ clinical experience we know that IQoro promotes noticeable improvements amongst patients that have been referred to CPAP treatment, or who have had an unsuccessful surgical operation against snoring.

The research also shows that the musculature in the upper airways and soft palate is significantly strengthened after training with IQoro. People with total paralysis of the pharynx regained their function after 13 weeks’ training. [5] Objective tests with high-resolution manometry and pressure measurement have shown that the neuromuscular treatment method with IQoro reaches all the musculature in the whole chain from the oral cavity to the diaphragm. [6, 7] IQoro activates the brain’s control system for the swallowing process, which is also closely linked with the breathing function.

Read more about this in the section: ”The swallowing process – when it works as it should”, and ” treatment methods –  why IQoro works”.

Pilot study of treating sleep apnoea with IQoro

A pilot study has been carried out in Sweden where people with sleep apnoea syndrome prescribed CPAP treatment, have also exercised in parallel with IQoro for three months. Sleep registration before treatment, and after the three months, have shown clear improvement with the suspension of breathing reduced from severe-, to mild apnoea.

Against this background: articles published and reviewed internationally, long clinical experience of positive treatment results, the pilot study, and the fact that there are no negative side-effects, IQoro can be recommended as a complement to CPAP or snoring screens for those with sleep apnoea, and also for those that suffer from social snoring.

If you are considering stopping the use of a CPAP or snoring screen that you have been prescribed, you should always consult your doctor whether you can completely replace these with IQoro training instead. At your next scheduled sleep investigation appointment, you will be able to track your progress.

Larger studies of snoring and sleep apnoea are in the planning. It is hoped that this can in time arouse interest from other medical professionals to use IQoro in similar studies to be able to further scientifically validate the effect of IQoro in these areas.

(Translation from the original Swedish text by T.W.Morris, MYoroface.

Reference sources

  1. Hjärt och lungfonden (2016), Sömnapné – En skrift om andningsuppehåll under sömn. vetenskapligt ansvarig: Karl Franklin, universitetslektor och överläkare, Enheten för kirurgi, Umeå universitet, Umeå, Experter: Richard Harlid, överläkare vid Aleris FysiologLab i Stockholm; Jan Hedner, professor i sömnrelaterade sjukdomar, Sömnlaboratoriet, Sahlgrenska universitetssjukhuset i Göteborg; Michael Lysdahl, Aleris FysiologLab i Stockholm; Eva Lindberg, docent och överläkare, verksamhetschef för lung och allergikliniken vid Akademiska sjukhuset i Uppsala; Marie Marklund, tandläkare och universitetslektor vid institutionen för odontologi, Umeå universitet. Sömnapné – En skrift om andningsuppehåll under sömn.pdf
  2. (English translation, ”Sleep apnoea – A paper on breathing suspension whilst sleeping”)  
  3. Sömnapné.se, (English translation,”Sleep apnoea”).
  4. Yaggi HK, Concato J, Kernan WN, Lichtman JH, Brass LM, Mohsenin V. Obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor for stroke and death. N Engl J Med 2005: 353: 2034-2041.
  5. K. A. Franklin, C. Sahlin, H. Stenlund, E. Lindberg, Sleep apnoea is a common occurrence in females, European Respiratory Journal Mar 2013,
  6. 41 (3) 610-615; DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00212711 
  7. Hägg M., Tibbling L. Effect of IQoro® training on impaired postural control and oropharyngeal motor function in patients with dysphagia after stroke. Acta Otolaryngol 2016; 136 (7):742-748. DOI:10.3109/00016489.2016.1145797
  8. Hägg M, Tibbling L, Franzén T. Effect of IQoro® training in hiatal hernia patients with misdirected swallowing and esophageal retention symptoms. Acta Otolaryngol. 2015 Jul;135(7):635-9.
  9. Hägg M, Tibbling L, Franzén T. Esophageal dysphagia and reflux symptoms before and after oral IQoro® training. World J Gastroenterol 2015; 21(24): 7558-7562
  10. Open access: