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Treating Snoring

Snoring can have a huge impact on relationships with many couples sleeping in separate bedrooms. Many people also go to the expense of booking separate rooms when travelling. Snoring is a sign of airway obstruction and can be associated with a medical condition called sleep apnoea, which could also be affecting your health leading to hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Reducing or removing snoring will not only decrease your risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease and stroke, it can also improve your relationships and the sleep of those close to you.

Dr David Cunnington, a sleep physician, and Dr Harry Ball from SleepWise Clinic discuss oral appliances

The effective treatment for snoring

Oral appliances are now universally regarded as the best available treatment for snoring and a frontline treatment sleep apnoea. Oral appliances are worn during sleep and work by holding the jaw slightly forward, so the tongue and tissues at the back of the throat don’t collapse and obstruct the airway during sleep and are no longer collapsing into the passage of airflow.

A study at SleepWise Clinic*, involving 116 consecutive patients who have completed treatment, demonstrated that 111 were satisfied with the improvement in their snoring following the use of a customised, adjustable oral appliance. The majority of these patients had adapted well to their appliance and were feeling more refreshed on waking and less sleepy during the day. According to the Australian Dental Association and based on extensive research studies* “95 per cent of people will have improvement in the level of their snoring when using an oral appliance.”

Read more about oral appliances. CPAP is also regarded as an alternative treatment for sleep apnoea, which works by delivering air under pressure to keep the airways open.

Diagram of normal airway and normal breathing

Diagram of sleep apnoea. The lower jaw, palate and tongue drop back causing airway obstruction.

Diagram of normal airway. The oral appliance holds the jaw forward keeping the airway open.

What else might be helpful?


Surgery is not a common treatment for snoring and sleep apnoea. It involves trimming and tightening of soft tissues in the throat. Post-operatively it is usually associated with severe pain and studies show that it is only 30-50% effective in stopping snoring. The side-effects can include altered tone of voice and regurgitation of food. For these reasons surgery is rarely a preferred treatment for snoring by sleep physicians in Australia.

Sleep position

Elevating the head of your bed and avoiding sleeping on your back may be helpful in ensuring your tongue does not fall back into the throat and reduce the airway size when sleeping. We can help you with strategies to help you sleep on your side.

Weight loss

If you are overweight, weight reduction may improve your snoring. Weight gain deposits fat into and around the soft palate, tongue and neck structures consequently reducing the size of the airway. Weight loss can reduce these fat deposits and enlarge the airway size thereby reducing snoring. Although weight loss is beneficial, it is usually insufficient as a treatment option to overcome all problematic snoring.

Substances to avoid

Alcohol and most sleeping pills relax the muscles of the throat and can worsen snoring and sleep apnoea. You should avoid alcohol for at least three hours prior to bedtime. Smoking and caffeine can also worsen snoring and sleep apnoea, due to swelling of the nasal and throat tissues.

Unproven & ineffective treatments

There are other treatments offered on the internet and in stores which include unfitted ‘Boil and Bite’ devices, nasal strips, sprays, pillows, rings and the buteyko breathing technique. These methods are unproven, are generally regarded as ineffective, and not recommended by sleep physicians.


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