Snoring is a Common Problem
“Honey, stop snoring,” says the wife as she gives her husband a good shove in the middle of the night.
The husband, indignant, rolls over and retorts, “I wasn’t snoring.”
This is a commonly played out bedroom scene that most couples have experienced in the course of their relationship. Some facts about 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.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring, defined by the National Sleep Foundation as “noisy breathing during sleep.” Although those most affected are overweight males, all ages and genders are impacted by the side effects of snoring.
The rattling sounds of snoring 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
As people age, the throat muscles naturally relax and leads to the phenomenon described ab`ove. People who have larger tonsils, adenoids, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum may also be more prone to snoring.
The Side Effects of Snoring
Typically, snoring interrupts the quality of sleep for both the snorer and the snorer’s partner. This leads to daytime fatigue and eventually can lead to poorer daily function and performance and other symptoms.
Many people who are chronic snorers may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Choking or gasping while asleep
- There is even a link between snoring and heart disease
- Gaps in breathing
- Headaches in the mornings
- Issues with concentration
- Frequent urination at night
When these side effects are severe enough to interfere with the quality of life, there’s a good chance that the snorer is suffering from a more serious problem called sleep apnea.
How to Stop Snoring
For those who don’t have sleep apnea and still snore, there are a variety of techniques that can be attempted to improve nighttime snoring.
- Do not sleep on your back - instead, stomach or side sleeping should be attempted. Snoring is most common when people are lying on their backs.
- Lose weight - obesity can aggravate snoring due to the added fatty tissue in the neck.
- Stay hydrated - dehydration makes the mucus in the throat thicken which can lead to excessive snoring.
- Get 7 hours or more of sleep every night - if sleep is sacrificed, the body is less likely to achieve a state of deep sleep
- Stop smoking - tobacco can irritate the nose and throat and lead to swelling inside of the nose.
- Limit alcohol consumption - drinking alcohol can cause throat muscles to relax which worsens snoring and disrupts your quality of sleep. Also, finishing your last drink within 3 hours of sleeping is recommended that your system can clear before going to bed.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Those who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea complain of:
- Waking tired in the morning after a full night of sleep
- Constant feelings of fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
These symptoms surface because sleep apnea is a disorder that causes an individual to cease breathing while sleeping. The upper airway repeatedly is blocked during sleep and causes airflow to almost or completely stop.
Longer-term consequences of sleep apnea can occur if sleep apnea is left untreated due to the lack of oxygen the body receives. Dangers of sleep apnea include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
Luckily, there are a number of treatments for sleep apnea. After a doctor diagnoses someone with sleep apnea by analyzing symptoms, the individual may participate in a sleep study at a sleep center. There, the person will be closely monitored in the areas of sleep state, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, airflow, and blood oxygen levels.
Once diagnosed, many people choose to treat their sleep apnea with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. Those using this machine wear a mask that blows air into the airway to keep it open during sleep. If an individual declines the use of a CPAP device, he or she may choose to treat sleep apnea by seeking reconstructive surgery, a dental appliance that positions the jaw and tongue, or by using nasal EPAP (expiratory positive airway pressure).
Final Thought on Why You Snore
Overall, snoring is a completely natural bodily function that easily ignored. However, if snoring becomes too loud or disruptive, it can become a health risk if left untreated. Fortunately, there are numerous treatments available for those who suffer if snoring begins to interfere with the snorer’s quality of life.