Snoring can be defined as the vibration of the soft palate resulting in deep, irregular and loud sounds of breathing while asleep. As trivial as this issue may seem, it affects the lives of millions of people around the globe, mostly men. 25% of adults are habitual snorers while 45% tend to snore occasionally.
For a person to function normally and make the most out of his day, getting enough sleep is very important. Snorers usually wake up by the sound of their own snoring and more importantly, do not let their partner/family/roommate sleep peacefully as well. Snoring is very common and is not caused by any serious reasons.
Snoring is not only very disturbing for the snorer but also leaves lasting impacts on people who sleep nearby the snorer. It is said to impair their physical and mental condition resulting in sleep deprivation, fatigue, dizziness, irritability and lack of focus.
Mechanism Of Snoring
During sleep, different parts of the throat vibrate to produce different sounds which cause snoring. The sound comes out to be soft in quality when the soft tissue of nasopharynx is involved in snoring. The vibration of the uvula and the soft palate produces a snore that is rather throaty and loud in quality.
Sleep results in muscular relaxation, of the throat and the air passageway muscles as well. When the airways are constricted, the velocity of air movement while expiration increases, causing the air pressure to alter in the airways. This results in the side of the passages to collapse slightly and the soft tissue vibration due to the incoming air.
Snoring occurs usually during stage 4 sleep, also called deep sleep. A person starts going into a deep sleep after 90 minutes of sleep. Snoring weakens the muscles that are involved, leading to further narrowing of the muscles and constriction of the airways. This means that snoring only worsens over time unless treated.
Risk Factors of Snoring
Snoring may result in the presence of any of the following factors
- Obesity, causing the throat muscles to become bulky and congested
- Inflammation of the airways caused by smoking and allergies which further constricts the airways and cause snoring.
- Alcohol, antidepressants, relaxants, and sedatives which relax the throat muscles making them narrower.
- Muscular tension resulting in an improperly positioned jaw is also a major cause of snoring.
- Sleeping on one’s back may also result in snoring due to the chest being unable to contract and relax making breathing difficult.
- Sleep deprivation or extreme tiredness can also result in a disturbed sleep and excessive loud snoring.
Another potential cause of snoring is a condition known as sleep apnea. In this condition, there are long pauses between breaths while sleeping, often followed by a gasp or snorting sound.
Sometimes, the gaps can be so long that it may wake the sufferer up. Usually, people who suffer from sleep apnea do not know about it and it is mostly their partner who notices the disorder. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused by several blockages in the airways. When air passes through these airways, a loud snore can be heard. OSA can be a result of obesity, an enlarged tongue, inflamed tonsils or the natural shape of your body.
There are no certain treatments or medications for snoring. Although, doctors do suggest a change in lifestyle to make snoring lesser.
Snorers are advised to lose weight, avoid taking medication before bedtime, sleep on their side and get enough sleep every day. If the snoring is due to nasal congestion, medications can be taken. Surgery can be done to remove the extra, bulky tissue from the throat making it less narrow. Otherwise, there are a number of other anti-snoring devices too.
Types of Snoring
Snoring has three major types according to the structures involved in it. These are
- Nasal snoring
- Tongue snoring
- Mouth snoring
Let’s look into each type closely,
When the nasal passages are blocked or constricted due to ailments like flu, cold or allergies, nasal snoring occurs. These blockages result in an increased intake of air through the mouth creating excessive and loud vibrations called snoring.
Another cause of nasal snoring can be a defect in the individuals’ nasal passageways such as a condition known as the deviated septum. In this case, the thin wall separating the right and left nasal passages inclines to one side and results in a restricted flow of air to the other nasal passage.
The treatment for such type of snoring is opening the blocked nasal passages, practicing good hygiene or taking medication that can alleviate the symptoms of flu or cold.
Mouth snoring is the most common type of snoring. It occurs when the tissues of the soft palate vibrate against each other resulting in hoarse sounds called snoring. It is common in individuals who breathe through their mouths while sleeping or prefer to sleep on their back or sides.
The treatment for this kind of snoring includes raising the head of your bed, treat nasal congestion, using nasal strips or a dialyzer.
Our muscles naturally relax when we go to sleep including the muscles of our throat and tongue. Sometimes, the muscles relax to the point where the tongue leaves its original place and goes further back in the throat.
This type of snoring usually occurs to people who consume alcohol or sleep aids before bed causing their tissues to relax more than normal. The treatment would be avoiding all these sedatives and medications.
If you’re someone who is habitual of snoring loudly and waking yourself as well as other people up in the middle of the night, all you need to do is figure out your type of snoring and adapt to the treatments that come with it.
A change in lifestyle can definitely help snorers give up their awful snoring and relax the people around them. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a good and peaceful night sleep after a tiresome day.