Snoring is a relatively common occurrence, affecting up to 20% of the population, but if snoring is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. Of course, snoring can only be treated if its cause is understood so today we are going to take a closer look at what causes snoring, so you can decide on the most appropriate form of treatment with your healthcare practitioner.
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is more than just a loud noise that is made when someone is fast asleep. It is actually caused by relaxation in the airways during sleep, and it can have a very serious impact on your overall health and wellbeing if it is left untreated.
Snoring happens when the air you inhale can’t move freely through your airways. Your airway becomes relaxed, and the soft tissue in your throat vibrates. Your snoring becomes louder when your airways become narrow or more restricted.
People who snore are statistically more likely to
- Feel tired and sleepy during the day
- Experience headaches in the morning
- Struggle to concentrate
- Gain weight unexpectedly
These side effects can have a very real and disturbing effect on a snorer’s day-to-day living – more so than keeping your bed partner awake at night. It is also more likely for someone who snores to grind their teeth in their sleep too.
Why It’s So Important To Treat Snoring
Getting good quality sleep is an essential component of a healthy body and mind and snoring causes constant interruptions to sleep. When you aren’t getting the quality or quantity of sleep you need to function, it makes it more difficult to get through and perform at your best each day.
What Causes Snoring And How To Prevent It?
There are lots of different causes of snoring – and everyone does it from time to time.
- Nasal congestion caused by allergies or a cold
- Sleeping on your back
- Alcohol and drug use
- Obstructive sleep apnoea – Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a serious condition associated with stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. Untreated snoring is highly likely to progress to OSA.
- Hormonal changes
It’s quite common for pregnancy hormones to result in congestion, causing snoring in pregnant women. Pregnant women will also experience pressure on their diaphragm as their baby gets bigger, which can also result in breathing challenges. Women who have gone through menopause have lower levels of oestrogen, which causes softer muscles, and may be more susceptible to snoring.
Risk Factors That Increase Your Chances Of Being A Snorer
The risk profile of a typical snorer is a male, aged between 35 and 60 years. snoring is more common in people who are overweight, especially people who are carrying extra weight around their neck, as this increases the pressure on your airways. Other factors to consider include:
Snoring becomes more common as we get older.
Alcohol can cause the muscles in the airway to relax more than usual, making snoring much louder than usual.
Medication and sedatives
Sedatives and sleep medication can make snoring louder or more likely, as can epilepsy medication and oral steroids.
People who breathe through their mouths are more susceptible to snoring because the walls at the back of the throat vibrate much easier than those at the back of the nose.
Smokers are more likely to snore because smoking makes it more difficult for air to pass through your airways.
People who suffer from bruxism
Bruxism (teeth grinding) and snoring often co-exist.
How Is Snoring Treated?
It may surprise you to know that your dental practitioner is your greatest ally when it comes to the treatment of snoring.
A highly effective dental technique that we employ at the Melbourne Dental Sleep Clinic for the treatment of snoring is the Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS). It works similarly to a mouth guard and is worn at night – which means it offers the double benefit of protecting your teeth against grinding while you sleep.
The MAS is effective because it pushes your bottom jaw forward. This causes the airway to open and stops the soft tissues at the back of your throat from vibrating in a snore.
Managing Lifestyle Factors
A dental device like a mandibular advancement splint can help you get a good night’s sleep – and improve your relationship with your bed partner, but there are other things you can do to protect your overall and improve the effectiveness of your dental device
Consider losing weight
Shedding extra weight poses a number of health benefits, and will benefit your snoring. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also improve your quality of sleep.
Stop sleeping on your back
Rather sleep on your side instead.
Make sure your nose is clear every night so that it is easier to breathe through. This could mean avoiding alcohol, dairy or tobacco products before bed, or using a nasal spray.
Still wondering what causes snoring for you or your partner? Let us evaluate your sleep and snoring and propose the best treatment for your needs. Contact us for an appointment now: