What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is the harsh sound that takes place when air passes through your throat past relaxed tissues as you breathe, creating a vibration of the tissues. While the sound may just seem like an inconvenience to a bed partner, habitual snoring may indicate a more serious health condition.

As we breathe, air flows through our nose and/or mouth, through our throat (pharynx), through our trachea eventually to our lungs where gas exchange occurs in order to get oxygen into our blood and carbon dioxide out. While we sleep our muscles, including the muscular organ called the tongue, and soft tissues relax. As this relaxation occurs, the downward force or pull of gravity causes the tongue and the soft tissues to close off and narrow the airway—a term called airway collapse. When this airway collapse happens, air moves faster through your mouth and throat, which contributes to the vibration of those loose, relaxed tissues creating a sound that we call snoring.

Try this: Tilt your head backwards, open up your mouth and act like you are gargling salt water when you have a sore throat. Do you feel that rattle or flutter towards the back of your throat? Those are the soft tissues that vibrate when you snore.

Factors That Increase Your Probability of Snoring

Although snoring can occur in any individual, these increase your chances:

  • Being overweight
  • Being male
  • Middle aged and older
  • Excessive tissue in the mouth and throat
  • Family history
  • Anatomy of mouth, nose and throat
  • Sleep position
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sleep deprivation

What Can I Do About Snoring?

While snoring can lead to restless sleep for the snorer as well as the bed partner, as studies show partners lose just over one hour of sleep per night, habitual snoring can be more than just a nuisance—it can be a sign of a serious sleeping disorder called sleep apnea.

Simple solutions to snoring include losing weight, changing your sleeping position, avoiding alcohol, and practicing good sleep hygiene by preventing excessive sleepiness.

If snoring persists or if you are a habitual snorer, an oral appliance may be used as a comfortable and simple means to stop you from snoring, thus helping you and your partner both receive restful and rejuvenating sleep.

If you are a habitual snorer and show other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact Superior Sleep and Wellness today to meet with a doctor for a free consultation. The consequences of untreated sleep apnea are too significant to disregard.

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