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Why Do People Snore and How To Stop It

Image © Depositphotos.com/Martin Mark Soerense

Image © Depositphotos.com/Martin Mark Soerense

Do you snore? As much as 50% of all people snore, with the likelihood of someone snoring increasing with age. While most snoring is a harmless annoyance, snoring can, in some cases, indicate one of several potentially hazardous health effects.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the physiological side of snoring, the demographics most likely to snore and the health effects related to snoring. We’ll also look at the most effective ways to stop snoring and how you can apply them.

Why do people snore?

Snoring is a common problem that affects about one in three people. In some age demographics, an astounding 50% of people snore, although not every snorer is affected by very loud, invasive snoring.

Snoring is simply noisy breathing that occurs while you sleep. It usually happens because the muscles inside your throat that control breathing and tongue motion begin to relax as you sleep, making your throat softer and far less rigid.

Every inward breath results in the relaxed and soft walls of your throat vibrating due to the motion. The result is a loud snoring sound. Snoring can also happen as you breathe out, although it’s usually quieter and less of a potential health issue.

Since your airway becomes narrower when your muscles are relaxed, very loud snoring often indicates a very narrow airway. In extreme cases, your throat can completely close while you sleep – a dangerous condition known as sleep apnoea.

Who snores the most?

Do you have a friend, partner or relative that snores uncontrollably? If you’ve ever shared a hotel room with a friend and struggled to sleep, you’ll know how annoying loud snoring can be.

Like many other health issues, snoring affects certain people more than others. Men are more likely to snore than women. In fact, for every one woman that snores there are 10 men that also snore – a significantly different amount.

snoring-statisticsThis disparity in snoring between the sexes is because men tend to have thicker and heavier tissue in their throat than women. Since the tissue is thicker, its effect on the thickness of the airway when it’s relaxed and soft is significantly greater.

Despite this statistical difference, don’t be fooled into thinking that snoring is only a problem that affects men. As girlfriends and wives of snoring sufferers can tell you, it’s often the partner that suffers more from the effects of snoring than the snorer!

Aside from gender, other factors can affect someone’s likelihood of snoring. Older people tend to snore more than younger people. This is because as people age, the muscles of the throat naturally become looser and more relaxed. Other factors include enlarged tonsils and deviated septum, both of which can make snoring more of a problem. Cigarette smoking also increases your chance of snoring due to the irritation cigarette smoke causes to your throat muscles.

Finally, the position you sleep in can affect snoring. People who sleep on their side or stomach are less likely to snore than people who sleep on their back, especially those who elevate their head on two or more pillows. For more information on the effects of different sleeping positions, read our article here.

Is snoring unhealthy?

Snoring can be annoying, especially if you share a bed with a snorer, but it is really unhealthy?

In some cases, snoring is harmless. In other cases, it can be an indicator that something isn’t right in your mouth, nasal airway or throat.

Have you ever recorded yourself sleeping? Record yourself sleeping or ask a friend to let you know whether or not you snore. If you’re a severe snorer, you could suffer from a number of potentially serious health issues:If you only snore while sick (either with a cold or hay fever) it’s unlikely that you suffer from any serious health issues.If you snore lightly and breathe normally while sleeping, it’s unlikely that you have anything to worry about.If you snore loudly and frequently stop breathing for 10 or more seconds while sleeping, you could suffer from sleep apnoea.

1.  If you only snore while sick (either with a cold or hay fever) it’s unlikely that you suffer from any serious health issues.

2.  If you snore lightly and breathe normally while sleeping, it’s unlikely that you have anything to worry about.

3.  If you snore loudly and frequently stop breathing for 10 or more seconds while sleeping, you could suffer from sleep apnoea.

Sleep apnoea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that happens when the thick muscles of your throat loosen during the night and block your airway. It’s similar to snoring but on a much more serious scale, since it stops you from breathing.

If you suffer from sleep apnoea, you might stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. Every time you stop breathing – even if it’s just for a few short moments – your vital organs (including your brain) are starved of oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnoea: obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and central sleep apnoea. The first, OSA, is caused by the same effects as snoring: the muscles lining your throat softening during sleep and blocking your airway.

Sleep apnoea is a very serious condition, and people that suffer from it should speak to their doctor immediately. This YouTube video from Nucleus Medical Media shows the symptoms of sleep apnoea and explains its effects and treatment options.

Simple tips to stop snoring

Stopping snoring doesn’t need to be difficult. If you struggle with snoring that keeps you or your partner awake at night, try these simple tips to reduce the effect of your snoring and, in some cases, completely eliminate it:

1.  If you sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side instead
2.  Overweight? Losing weight makes you less likely to snore
3.  Stop smoking to let your respiratory system repair itself
4.  Blocked nose? Use nasal spray to clear your nasal passage
5.  Don’t drink alcohol before bed, as it relaxes your muscles
6.  Try sleeping earlier and get at least eight hours of nightly sleep
7.  Drink a glass of water before you sleep to lubricate your throat

If your snoring is interfering with your sleep quality and the above tips don’t work, speak to your doctor. They may be able to give you a special mouth guard that stops your jaw from completely relaxing while you sleep.

What’s your anti-snoring strategy?

Snoring can be a major annoyance, both for yourself and your partner. Do you snore at night? If you’ve beaten snoring, tell us your anti-snoring strategy and explain how other people can get their snoring under control.

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