Snoring is a real nuisance for a lot of people around the world. It can lead to a huge amount of sleep loss for partners of snorers, as we found in our research explained in this article. We found that women lose an astonishing 11 and a half times as much sleep as men from snoring. Snoring and sleep loss are close to our hearts as we developed our molded plugs to be ideal for use when sleeping as they are comfortable when lying on your side in bed. They are available from http://zenplugs.com/molded-earplugs/.
Whilst browsing Google Trends I came across an interesting pattern in the number of people Googling 'Snoring'. For those of you who haven't used it before, Google Trends tells you the search terms that are most popular at the moment. You can also type in a term and you will get a graph of the number of times the it is searched for. Great if you are a geek like me. Anyway, whilst tinkering on the site I noticed spikes in the number of people searching for 'Snoring' at the beginning of January every year. You can see this in the image below. I thought it would be interesting to look into why this happens.
Firstly, I assumed that the reason that more people are searching for this term is because more people were being woken by snoring at this time of year. Here are six reasons that could cause this seasonal change in the noisy nocturnal emissions. Please drop us a line below if you can think of any more and we will add them to the list.
- Alcohol. People tend to drink more during Christmas and New Year. Alcohol causes sedation and this can increase snoring. Sufferers are less likely to be woken by their own snoring and so also are less likely to move into a position where the snoring stops.
- Smoking. Although the festive period isn't particularly well known for people smoking more, if they are drinking alcohol, smokers tend to smoke more. Inhaling tobacco smoke causes inflammation of the delicate skin lining the airways. This makes the throat more likely to vibrate and cause the sound of snoring.
- Overeating. Food can have a soporific effect, similar to alcohol. I don't need to tell you that Christmas and New Year are famed for scoffing vast quantities of nosh. The over-sedation leads to a propensity to snore.
- Obesity. It's not uncommon for us to put on a few pounds over Christmas. Overindulgence in turkey and massive boxes of chocolates can leave us circumferentially challenged. Studies have shown a link between the distance measured around a person's neck and the likelihood of them developing OSA. This is obstructive sleep apnoea which can classically cause very loud snoring.
- Central heating. January is one of the coldest months and so the central heating is often cranked up high. This dries out the mucous membranes lining the nose and throat, leading to inflammation. This narrows the airways and makes them more prone to vibrate with the passing of air during breathing.
- Colds. Viral infections of the upper airways can make people prone to snoring. This is due to inflammation and mucus blocking the airways. The medical term for these conditions are Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTIs). Colds can happen any time of year but it is commonly believed that they are more common in the winter. Although this has not been scientifically proven.
If an individual encounters more than one of these risk factors at once, it is going to make snoring far more likely. This is particularly the case if they work in different ways. For instance, being intoxicated and having a cold may cause more of a problem than smoking and having the heating on.
Summary. Snoring causes significant sleep loss for many people. A significantly higher number of people Google 'Snoring' at the beginning of January every year. Reasons include overindulgence in food, alcohol and tobacco, the use of central heating and an increase in the number of colds.
Dr Toby Bateson for ZenPlugs Website.