While snoring isn’t physically harmful, it can have a big impact on someone’s quality of life and be irritating to anyone who is kept from sleep by the noise.
It’s estimated that 20 percent of the population snores. More men snore than women, with one-quarter of all men being prone to snoring.
According to the experts at House Call Doctor, snoring is caused by the vibration of the muscles of the soft palate and uvula found in the back of the throat. These structures relax during sleep and vibrate when a person breathes, resulting in the characteristic noise.
While this sound can be quiet in some cases, it is usually loud and disruptive.
Snoring can also be a sign of sleep apnoea, a serious obstructive sleep disorder that interrupts a person’s sleep.
What causes snoring?
People snore for different reasons and it can have many causes. Understanding why you snore is important so that you’re able to find solutions to help stop the snoring.
Common causes of snoring include:
Age: the throat narrows and loses muscle tone as a person reaches middle age and older. This restricts the airflow and causes vibrations in the throat.
Weight: being overweight or out of shape can result in extra fatty tissue around the neck/throat and poor muscle tone, which can contribute to snoring.
The way you’re built: males have narrower air passages than women, making them more likely to snore. Enlarged adenoids, a cleft palate, a narrow throat, and other physical attributes can also cause snoring. These cannot be changed and are often hereditary.
Sleep position: sleeping on your back causes the throat to relax and blocks the airway.
Nasal and sinus problems: blocked airways can make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, resulting in snoring.
Alcohol, smoking, and medications: alcohol, smoking and tranquilizer drugs like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium) can increase muscle relaxation and lead to snoring.
How to stop snoring?
There are many anti-snoring devices on the market and it can be daunting to try and figure out what the best option is for you.
To begin with, here are a few simple things you can do to treat your snoring.
- Change your sleep position. Lying on your back can close off your throat, so try sleeping on your side or elevating your head
- Clear your nasal passages before bed with saline, nasal decongestant or nasal strips to allow an easier flow of air
- If overweight, lose weight to reduce the amount of fatty tissue in the throat
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime
- Quit smoking
- Avoid sleeping tablets
- Exercise to increase muscle tone. Exercise, in general, will be beneficial but specific throat exercises can be done to strengthen that area.
Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnoea, a condition where the walls of the throat come together and block the airway during sleep.
Sleep apnoea can cause a person to wake up constantly, having a massive impact on sleep quality and overall quality of life.
If you have concerns about your snoring and wish to know what treatment would be best for you, please contact your GP.