Snoring is a common condition that affects lots of people from time to time, but if it is chronic, it could be an indication that something is interfering with your breathing. If you are experiencing sleep disorders like snoring it is a good idea to seek professional advice for snoring treatment. Let’s have a look at why do people snore and what you can do about it.
Why Do People Snore: Causes Of Snoring
Snoring occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat and your tongue relax during sleep. That means when you breathe in and out, the muscles vibrate, resulting in the sound you know to be snoring. Everyone’s throat muscles relax when they sleep, but some to a greater extent than others.
Snoring is so common that it has been estimated to affect 20% of adults, but it affects more men (around 25%) than women. Snoring is often a bigger problem for the other people in the household than the person who is snoring, but it can be a sign of an underlying issue that should be evaluated professionally.
Other circumstances that may cause snoring include
- Being overweight or obese. When you are overweight you have more fat around your neck. This means your throat is narrower and more likely to vibrate with breathing
- Drinking alcohol relaxes your muscles, especially those in the throat, making them more susceptible to vibration
- Sleeping flat on your back can cause your tongue to fall backwards and restrict airflow. Sleeping on your side may help.
- Having sinus problems or allergies that block your nose and prevent you from breathing through it can cause snoring. Respiratory infections can also result in snoring.
- Having a small airway. If you are born with a small airway, the amount of air that can pass through it is restricted
- Mouth breathing, which may occur as a result of the nasal passages being blocked, can also cause snoring.
- Certain physiological conditions such as having a long soft palate or uvula can restrict the opening between your nose and throat. Poor muscle tone of the throat and tongue can make you more susceptible to snoring.
- Using certain medications like sedatives and sleeping tablets can cause the muscles in your throat to relax more than usual
- Being pregnant increases your likelihood of snoring.
The Typical Risk Profile Of A Snorer
Snoring is likely to be more common if you
- Are male
- Are Overweight
- Are Between the ages of 30 and 65
- Have high blood pressure
Snoring And Sleep Apnoea
If you snore regularly and find that you are very tired during the day, it could be a sign of a more serious issue called sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is one of the more common sleep disorders that can be very serious if it is left untreated, leading to memory and concentration problems. People who have sleep apnoea do not get enough rest because they do not sleep through the night. Instead, your body will wake you up when it is deprived of oxygen, to force you to take a breath. This cycle can happen hundreds of times during the night, and takes its toll on your organs. Sleep apnoea is also associated with an elevated risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure.
Why Do People Snore: The Consequences Of Snoring
While snoring may not be harmful for you, doing it on a regular basis can affect your bed partner’s quality of sleep, causing sleep deprivation and tensions in your relationship. Like other sleep disorders, sleep loss and sleep deprivation has a cumulative effect on your overall health and wellbeing. Over time it can take its toll on your body, putting you at increased risk of heart attack, hypertension, obesity, depression, stroke and diabetes.
It is possible for snoring to coincide with other sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome and, of course, sleep apnoea. A major problem with sleep disorders is that the stress and anxiety they may cause, can make them worse. Getting help as soon as possible for sleep disorders gives you a better chance of having a positive outcome.
Snoring Treatments: What To Do
Make Lifestyle Changes
Sometimes making simple adjustments to your lifestyle can address a snoring problem.
Simple steps to stop snoring:
- Stop taking sleeping tablets and sedatives
- Stop drinking coffee and alcohol
- Try sleeping on your side instead of on your back
- Address nasal congestion at night
- Make sure your room is well ventilated and the air is not dry. Use a humidifier if necessary.
Snoring Treatment: Try Using A Mouthguard
Mouthguards can be effective, particularly if you are someone who suffers from obstructive sleep apnoea. Using a mouthguard or oral appliance keeps your airway open by keeping the jaws apart
If these steps are not effective, it is a good idea to consult a professional for advice. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a physical examination to see if something physical is restricting your airways. Sometimes nasal congestion, swollen tonsils or a deviated septum can result in snoring.
In the event that your GP cannot find a physical reason for snoring, he or she may order further tests including
- Imaging tests such as an MRI, x-ray or CT scan
- A sleep study, where a machine monitors you while you sleep. The sleep study will measure your heart rate, breathing and brain activity while you are asleep.
Snoring doesn’t have to be a disruptive force in your life. If snoring is problematic, or if you would like more details on why do people snore, it is best to seek professional help, to ensure there isn’t a more serious underlying condition. Please contact us for a consultation.
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