Sleep apnea is a man’s problem, right? A woman who snores? Shame!
Really? Remember Carries Fischer’s death? According to this article in the Daily Mail, women’s lives can be just as disrupted by sleep apnea as men’s.
“Nice girls don’t snore,” writes the author, Hannah Borno, “All you can hear as they doze, silent as angels, is the rustle of white cotton sheets. They don’t lie with their nostrils thrown back and rattle the rafters with elephantine snorts. Except in real life…
People look at you in a new light when they discover you’re a woman who snores – the way they might look at you when they see you don’t shave under the arms.
Yet according to the British Snoring Association, there are 4.5 million female snorers in the UK (compared with 10.4million men). But it’s hardly something a girl would want to advertise (single, non-smoker, snores like a bulldozer, looking for same)…
I’d sleep braced for the missiles which flew through the air to wake me. Desperate, I tried breathing aids and nasal strips – but nothing made any difference.”
A Hippopotamus on a Harley-Davidson
“As I grew older, my snoring continued. ‘You want to know how bad your snoring is?’ asked my husband of two years, Charlie. ‘Ask the man in the all-night kebab shop three doors down.
‘And every so often, your snoring stops and there’s a silence while I wonder if you’re still alive. Then there’s a massive grunt, which sounds like you’re gasping for air, and it starts again. It’s disconcerting.’
“Women don’t Like to Talk About it, because it’s Simply not Ladylike to Snore
Although female snoring is not uncommon, I was told sufferers are less likely to come forward for help.
‘Women don’t like to talk about it, because it’s simply not ladylike to snore,’ said Davey. ‘It’s this embarrassment which prevents them from seeking the help they need.’
Like me, most women who seek help do so because they are petrified their partner will be affected.
So, unprompted, I made an appointment at the London Sleep Centre. For £325, I was kitted out with a sleep study machine to take home for the night to reveal possible reasons for my snoring. That evening, I rigged myself up like a laboratory monkey, with a nasal cannula to check air-flow, and a plastic clip on my forefinger to monitor my pulse.
Results revealed my snoring was a result of mild obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition that affects around 4 per cent of men and 2 per cent of women. I was experiencing an average of eight sleep apnoea ‘events’ an hour – when the airway collapses, stopping you breathing for longer than ten seconds.
This disruption of sleep leads not only to daytime sleepiness, but memory lapses, weight gain, headaches and poor work performance, I was warned.
It can also contribute to psychological disorders such as depression. For the more severe cases, there’s an increased risk of high blood pressure, premature heart disease and stroke. No wonder I felt so terrible.”
Ugh! Those CPAP machines are so Unattractive…
“The solution was a multi-pronged approach including exercise, reduced alcohol consumption, healthy eating and, should I wish to accept it, surgery.
There were less drastic solutions – namely a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airways Pressure) full-face mask which apparently works brilliantly by stopping the airways from collapsing, or a mandibular device (like a mouthguard) which holds the lower jaw and tongue forward, making more space to breathe.
But these are worn in bed and I’m vain.”
So Ms Borno tried surgery, which was quite expensive, painful, and had only limited success. She then swallowed her vanity, and, she writes, “I agreed to try the passion-killing mandibular devices,” which are also, even in England, considerably less expensive.
“I go to see dentist, Dr. Marc Lefevre, from the European Dental Centre who specialises in this work, and [sank my teeth] into a mould to create a transparent acrylic splint, and over the next couple of months it was readjusted six times to gradually push my jaw further forward.
I was worried that this jaw stretch might be permanent, but was assured that when the splint is removed in the morning the jaw goes back to where it was.
I looked like a grouper fish – but it worked. After the last readjustment, I stopped snoring completely and started to feel livelier in the mornings. Now, I can’t remember the last time I napped in the day.
Two weeks ago, I underwent a final sleep study and discovered that I now only have one sleep apnoea event a night instead of eight per hour – a result that any ‘normal’ sleeper might experience. Although it’s difficult to accept that I’ve got to wear the splint every night for the rest of my life, my vanity has disappeared.
With hindsight, I’d skip the LAUP option [the operation] and first try the splint.”
To read the details of Ms. Borno’s experience, and find out her dating advice for mouthpiece-wearers, see the article.
If you’re a woman who is wrestling with the same issues in the Portland and Beaverton area, Dr Keith Valachi can ease your mind – and help you sleep soundly.