Underlying Causes of Snoring
There are many things that can cause snoring. If you are able, discovering why you snore is the best way to stop snoring or at least alleviate it. Some common causes of snoring are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Deviated septum
- Allergies (congestion)
- Improper head elevation
- Alcohol or other sedative drugs/medications
- Genetics (snoring is hereditary)
Obstructive sleep apnea is of particular note for two reasons: one, there is strong overlap between snoring and OSA; two, OSA is a serious medical condition that can have significant long term effects on your health, such as:
- Lower life expectancy
- Lower quality of life in nearly all areas
- Lower performance in nearly all areas of life
- Increased risk of many heart-related diseases
What Causes Snoring Sounds
Snoring is defined by the National Sleep Foundation as “noisy breathing during sleep.” For some, “noisy breathing” would be an understatement. Although the most affected persons are overweight males, all ages and genders are impacted by the side effects of snoring.
The snoring sounds occur when:
- The free flow of air through the back of the mouth and nose is obstructed
- Then the throat muscles relax and the tongue falls backward and narrows the upper throat
- When the upper throat constricts and meets with the soft palate and uvula, a vibrational effect occurs – i.e. snoring
Snoring becomes more common as we age because the throat muscles naturally relax with age, leading to the phenomenon described above. People who have larger tonsils, adenoids, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum may also be more prone to snoring.
See: Why Do I Snore for more information.
How to Prevent Snoring (or Lessen It)
The easiest way to stop snoring is to try and figure out what is causing it. On your own, you might try a process of elimination to see if there are simple things you can do to eliminate snoring, such as:
- Losing weight
- Cutting back on smoking
- Cutting back on drinking – no more night cap!
- Sleep in a different position, such as not on your back
- Buy an anti-snoring pillow
However, if none of these things seem to help, you may need outside intervention from your doctor or sleep specialists by consulting with them about:
- Getting a sleep study
- Sleep deprivation symptoms
- Medications you are taking
- Family history
- Allergy sensitivities
- Structural peculiarities in your nose
Based on these discussions, you will likely
Facts About Snoring
Here are some facts about snoring that are likely interesting for snorers:
- There are no inherent problems with snoring (outside of being disruptive)
- A common sign of deeper underlying and serious medical condition: OSA
- Chronic snorers are much more at risk for developing hypertension, stroke (67% more likely), and heart attack (34% more likely) vs non-snorers
- Snoring is hereditary (thanks mom/dad)
- Alcohol or other sedatives can exacerbate snoring
- 3 out of every 10 women snore
- 4 out of every 10 men snore
- The decibel range of snoring is similar to a pneumatic drill (50dB - 100dB)
- People become more susceptible to snoring as they age
- Elevating your head while sleeping can significantly help snoring
- There’s about a 50% chance that said husband is an occasional snorer
- There’s a 25% that said husband snores habitually
- About 90 million American adults snore from time to time
- 37 million Americans snore on a regular basis
In short, if you snore, you’re not alone.
Do You Have Socially Unacceptable Snoring?
Some snoring is so disruptive that we have a rather funny term AND acronym for it: socially unacceptable snoring (SUS). This is the kind of snoring that:
- Keeps your bed partner up at night
- Keeps your roommate up at night
- Wakes you up from time to time
- Requires ear plugs for anyone sleeping in your vicinity
- Is the end of many family jokes
- IS embarrassing for some people
While nearly everyone snores from time to time, frequent snoring or snoring every night is called chronic snoring. Chronic, socially unacceptable snoring isn’t necessarily a problem, as snoring in and of itself is not harmful, but it can be an indicator of an underlying and potentially serious medical condition: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), of which chronic snoring is a signature symptom.
If you live in Alaska and can’t seem to stop your snoring, and are concerned that it might be caused by an underlying sleep disorder, contact our sleep specialists for a free consultation.