Overtime, we get into that mild argument about who snores the loudest and most often, there exists that one person who insists on never making a sound while asleep. The act of breathing during sleep with a hoarse noise due to vibration of the soft palate has become a much common occurrence in our time.
Wikipedia defines snoring as the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sounds due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. Snoring sounds range from quiet vibrations to whistling, snorting or rumbling sounds. According to the same source, while 45% of adults snore occasionally, 25% snore regularly. Habitual snoring occurs in 44% of males and 28% of females.
During sleep, the muscle of the upper airway relaxes and partially collapses. Snoring is caused by narrowed airways which worsen when asleep. The vibration of different parts of the throat produces different types of sound during sleep causing snoring.
1. Mouth structure:
A low soft palate reduces the size of your airway. The muscles on the back of the roof of the mouth, tongue and throat relaxes during sleep blocking the airway. The soft palate and uvula then vibrates and knocks against the back of your throat causing the loud sounds during sleep. In cases of abnormalities, a deviated septum usually increases one’s chances of snoring.
2. Alcohol consumption:
Consuming too much of alcohol just before bedtime relaxes throat muscles and decreases your natural defences against airway obstruction. When alcohol is taken before bedtime, relaxation of muscles makes respiration more forceful and difficult, leading to constant vibration and the production of snoring sound. The more the quantity of alcohol consumed, the more the muscles of the throat relax further.
3. Nasal problems:
Chronic nasal congestion from allergies or cold could narrow down the airway. These muscle problems block the airway and make the nose stuffy. Breathing then becomes difficult and in most cases the mouth is used for breathing in place of the nose.
4. Sleep deprivation:
Not getting enough body rest or sleep may contribute hugely to snoring. Snoring sounds are loudest when the individual is tired and needs deep sleep.
Smoking causes terrible irritation to the membranes of the nose and throat which could result in narrowing down of the airway.
6. Sleep position:
Sleeping on the back causes collapse of one’s nasal airway. Lying on the back pushes the tongue and soft palate towards the back of the throat causing snoring.
7. Genetic factors:
Some cases of snoring are due to inherited traits in people with family history of snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea.
Being obese or overweight can cause increments and fats in the area around the neck. This hot compresses the throat and narrows the airways causing snoring during sleep.
- Ageing and pregnancy are other factors that could increase one’s chances of snoring.
Is Snoring a Disease?
Snoring, in itself, is not a medical condition but it could result in a few complications including;
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
- Learning problems
- Chronic headaches
- Lose weight: In order to stop snoring, it is important for you to shed some calories if you are overweight. Maintain a moderate weight by performing regular exercises, practicing portion control and eating healthy low calorie meals. Losing weight reduces the size of tissues around the throat which contributes to blockage of nasal airways and makes you healthier.
- Sleep on your side: While sleeping on the back causes relaxation of muscles, sleeping on your side in contrast reduces the compression on your airways limiting you from snoring.
- Elevate your bed: Elevating the head of your bed or simply using pillows helps you to lift up your head above your chest reducing pressure on your airway and nasal passages. This results in less obstruction and compression enabling you breathe better during sleep.
- Avoid alcohol consumption: Reducing your intake of alcohol especially before bedtime helps to prevent relaxation of throat muscles which in turn hinders snoring.
- Get enough sleep: The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends an average of six to eight hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep each day reduces the pressure on airways caused by sleep deprivation.
- Treat nasal obstruction and allergies: nasal obstructions are common causes of snoring. It is important that you Speak to a Doctorto prescribe the most suitable treatment options you may have. Nasal strips and other medications are helpful in easing allergies.
- Opt for surgery: A number of surgical procedures are now available as cure for snoring. These procedures include implants, radio frequency ablation and Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. These procedures correct deviated septum and other nasal problems.
READ ALSO: Is Sleep Paralysis a Myth?
Different sounds produced at different frequencies caused by a number of factors including smoking, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption, allergies, etc have become common in our time. These sounds could be disturbing to you as an individual and to your sleeping partner as well as whomever you may share a room with. But it is no death sentence. Maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, sleeping on your side, surgical procedures are available treatment options. Sometimes, all you need to do is Consult a Doctor to determine what works best for you.