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Is stress making you snore more?

Stress is linked to all sorts of areas in the body and, while most of us are aware that it can disrupt our sleep on a mental level, many of us don’t realise that it can also disrupt our sleep on a physiological level too. Today we are talking about why stress can make you snore more and its impact on your immune system, as well as some handy stress reduction techniques to support a better night’s rest.

How stress can make you snore more

You may be thinking that snoring is uncontrollable – we either do it or we don’t right? Wrong. While there are definitely larger factors at play, snoring can actually also be affected by how you feel. Stress causes the whole body to tighten up and that can include the muscles on the face – how many of you are teeth grinders out there? Tightness in the jaw joints can not only cause pain but grinding teeth can also push the tongue back into the throat, narrowing the airway and most likely result in snoring and even some sleep disruption.

Stress can also disrupt our sleep on a hormonal level by releasing cortisol and norepinephrine which stimulates the body into a state of hyper arousal that can easily give way to unsettled sleeping patterns and lack of sleep. Snoring can also be a sign of a more serious condition such as sleep apnoea so it’s important to get checked by a doctor, particularly if you wake throughout the night feeling short of breath.

Why stress is the enemy of your immune system

Stress can not only cause you to snore more, but it can also weaken your immune system leaving it less able to cope with invaders. This can, in turn, result in poor sleep because we all know that being bunged up with the cold or flu is a recipe for a poorer night’s sleep! 

The immune system is the body's defence mechanism for keeping us protected and safe from the bacteria, germs and viruses which we inadvertently ingest. Good health is dependent on its proper functioning, and like so many other systems in the body, it is prone to the adverse effects of stress.

Whilst stress alone cannot make us catch a cold or flu virus, it weakens the immune system's ability to respond to invaders, leaving us more vulnerable to infection. Recovery is also liable to be slower since the immune system is suppressed in favour of dealing with stress.

The body's stress-response system should be self-limiting. Once the perceived threat has passed, adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, the heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.

However, when stressors and 'feeling under attack' remain constant, the fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on, over-exposing the body to cortisol and other stress hormones. The cells of the immune system (and other body systems) are unable to respond normally and produce levels of inflammation which increase the risk of further health issues.

How do I know if I have low immunity?

What do we mean by low immunity? Low immunity describes an immune system that is under- active and performing poorly, unable to protect us sufficiently against infection and disease.

Signs that may indicate low immunity:

  • Do you catch colds easily?
  • Do you get more than two colds a year?
  • Are you suffering chronic infection?
  • Do you get frequent cold sores?
  • Are your lymph glands sore and swollen at times?

Recurrent or chronic infections - even very mild colds - only occur when the immune system is weakened. Once immunity is weakened a repetitive cycle is set up making it difficult to overcome the tendency toward infection: a weakened immune system leads to infection, infection causes damage to the immune system, which further weakens resistance:

Stress reduction and supporting the immune system is therefore key in reducing susceptibility to colds, flu, and more serious disease.

Effective Stress Management

Your health is greatly impacted by your emotional state, level of stress, lifestyle, dietary habits and nutritional status. Therefore, support in all these areas needs to be considered if you want to reduce the amount of influence stress has on your sleep.

Reduce and eliminate stress from your life, especially chronic stress.

Mood and attitude have a tremendous impact on our body; when we are happy and optimistic our systems function well and we have uninterrupted sleep. However, when we are negative and low in mood our body tends to be low too and passes this message on to our sleeping habits.

Eat healthy foods

If we don’t eat good foods from the outside chances are they won’t do our insides much good either! Choose whole, natural foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. Three good rules of thumb are:

1) Can you recognise it as having grown from a plant or grazed in a field?

2) Eat a rainbow - in other words include fruits and vegetables of all colours to maximise nutritional value e.g. dark greens; yellow and orange squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes; and red peppers and tomatoes. Also important for proper immune function, is the inclusion of the brassica family (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, and greens from mustard, radish and turnip), flavonoid rich berries and garlic.

3) Limit refined sugars (known to weaken immunity), caffeine, alcohol and processed foods.  For more information on foods and drinks to boost immunity please see our How Can Diet Boost Our Immune System blog. Or head over to our food pages for lots of healthy and creative recipe ideas.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the best known ways to improve combat stress because it releases feel good hormones and endorphins to boost our mood. Ideally we should include 30 minutes of aerobic exercise and 5 to 10 minutes of passive stretching daily whilst not forgetting daily deep breathing and relaxation exercises. Why not check out our handy how-to guide on how to start running?

What’s more exercise also has great benefits for our immune health! According to the Appalachian State University, people who exercise 30 to 45 minutes a day experience a 40% to 50% reduction in the number of days they get sick. Within minutes of starting your exercise routine, your body’s circulating levels of white blood cells, natural killer cells, and other sickness-fighting agents increases. The more active you are, the more active your immune system tends to be.

Herbal help for sleep

Here at A.Vogel we believe that a natural approach is always best wherever possible. That’s why we’d recommend our herbal sleeping aid Dormeasan over conventional sleeping medications as these can often leave you feeling drowsy and groggier than before. Dormeasan, on the other hand contains fresh extracts of Valerian and Hops to help you drift off to a natural sleep. 

My, my these little herbs can just do it all! Dormeasan can also double up as a stress relief remedy throughout the day courtesy of the relaxing properties present in the Valerian herb. That being said we don’t want you feeling so relaxed you could dose off throughout the day! Which is why for day-time use we suggest that you take between 10 and 20 drops in a little water.