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SALT LAKE CITY -- The research was done by the Toronto Research Institute, but it's getting support from doctors in the Beehive State. Dr. Robert Simpson with the University of Utah Sleep Center says the findings sound accurate to him.
"It's estimated that a 10 percent loss of body weight can lead to as much as a 50 percent reduction in the degree of sleep apnea," he said.
Plus, Simpson says moderate exercise reduces the fluids that build up outside the vascular space in the body. As a person lies down, fluids from other parts of the body may settle higher in the neck, near the throat. Simpson says it doesn't take a lot of extra fluid to collapse someone's airway.
"That's the place where the collapse is happening," he explained. "It's behind the tongue and behind the soft palate. That space is really only [a few] millimeters."
It's because snoring is caused by vibrations of the tissues from the soft palate to the vocal cords that makes Simpson doubt that nasal strips are effective. But, he says many people he's spoken with swear by them as a tool to help them stop snoring.
So, are there any other effective ways to reduce snoring that aren't invasive, like surgery or wearing C-Pap devices and mouth guards? Simpson says the old remedy of sleeping on your side or back is more effective than people give it credit for. Other methods, like circular breathing, may be tricky to learn, but Simpson says it works to stop snoring.
Simpson says it's also important to know that snoring and sleep apnea are on the same continuum, but there are differences between the two. So, how can you tell the difference?
"An apnea is defined as, essentially, cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more. It turns out that we consider less than five apneas per hour normal."
Simpson says someone may be able to hear if their sleep partner has apnea.
"They snore and then there is a pause where there is no breathing. Then, there's sort of a gasp or a snort and then there's resumption of snoring again," he said.
While there are some things that can reduce the level of sleep apnea or snoring, there are other things that can make it much worse. Simpson says certain medications, like Oxycodone, Lortab and Valium increase the severity, as does alcohol.
"They can make bad apnea life threatening," he warned.