According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, about 90% of adults snore, and it is not limited to age or gender.
Of these people, 37 million snore regularly while sleeping and snoring has become part of their sleep habits. But snoring is not an insignificant thing, it is definitely not just “breathing loudly” while sleeping.
Not only does it get worse as you get older, it can also lead to waking up easily or restlessly during sleep, affecting not only you but also your partner in bed with you.
Sleep is one of the most important foundations of optimal health, and a lack of quality sleep can expose you to a variety of health problems. In addition, snoring may also be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a breathing problem that can lead to a variety of health risks (more on this later in this article).
This article will discuss the basics of snoring and how simple modifications to your lifestyle, especially your sleep habits, can help you significantly eliminate this common problem.
Why do people snore?
Snoring usually occurs when the muscles in your throat are relaxed, i.e. when you are sleeping.
After you fall into a deep sleep, your throat muscles relax, allowing your airway to become narrower and looser. Your tongue also stretches back. Every time you inhale and exhale, your throat area vibrates – which results in the typical sound of snoring.
As your airway becomes narrower, the vibrations become stronger, and the snoring becomes louder.
This is because air has to pass successively through your soft palate, tongue, uvula (the triangular tissue under the soft palate) and tonsils. In some cases, the airway can become blocked, causing breathlessness and noisier snoring. Sleep apnea is one example of such a problem.
What causes snoring? The following are the common factors that cause snoring
One of the most commonly held views on snoring is that it is caused by sleeping on your back. This is true to some extent, as a study has found that 54% of snorers are caused by the position they sleep in.
These people are called “sleep snorers,” meaning that they only snore when they sleep on their backs.
But sleeping on one’s back is not the only trigger for snoring; many other underlying factors may contribute to the problem. In addition to sleeping position, snoring can be caused by a number of other common causes.
Anatomical configuration of the mouth: enlarged tonsils or tonsils, curved nasal septum (the part in the middle of the nostril that bends) or nasal polyps may also cause further narrowing of the throat area during sleep. The airway may also be narrower in people with a lower, thicker soft palate. An overly long uvula may also cause airway obstruction.
Nasal problems: Inflammation in the nose and/or throat area, such as when you have a respiratory infection or allergy attack, may also cause snoring. Chronic nasal congestion is also one of the factors leading to snoring.
Lack of sleep: The inability to get enough sleep at night may likewise lead to further relaxation of the throat.
Alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime, can encourage the muscles in the throat to relax while reducing your natural resistance to airway obstruction.
Sleep apnea. Also known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it is a condition in which the airway becomes obstructed during sleep, resulting in breathlessness.
OSA affects one in four women and more than half of men, and is an urgent condition to treat, as studies have found that it can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, gout, type II diabetes, immune deficiency, and depression, among others.
Preventing how snoring can have a significant impact on your overall health
The biggest problem with snoring is that it can prevent you from getting restful sleep, which, as mentioned above, is a necessary prerequisite for optimal health.
Snorers often feel restless in their sleep, which can lead to sleepiness or difficulty concentrating during the day when performing important work tasks. Some snorers also wake up in the middle of the night due to choking and gasping for breath, although this is very rare.
Remember: Lack of sleep can have a number of minor or serious effects, depending on how much “sleep debt” you actually owe. In the long run, lack of sleep can lead to a number of chronic health problems, including diabetes and obesity, as well as immune problems, and it may even increase your risk of cancer. Being sleepy during the day may also increase your risk of having an accident or making a mistake at work.
What’s more, snoring itself can also significantly affect your relationship with your spouse or partner. Dr. Daniel P. Slaughter, an otolaryngologist and snoring treatment specialist at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas, warns people that “snoring can cause real problems in married life.”
Considering all the possible effects of this problem, it makes sense to actively pursue various methods to effectively overcome snoring. Thanks to the rapid development of technology, a variety of “anti-snoring” devices are now available on the market, all of which claim to reduce or completely eliminate snoring.
These solutions to snoring come in a variety of forms – including anti-snoring wristbands that send a small wave of electricity when you snore, and high-tech “smart beds” equipped with self-adjusting mattresses, which are said to be able to track a person’s sleep position and can Raise the head a few degrees to prevent snoring.
Some solutions seem a bit dated, such as anti-snoring pillow chin straps, and mouthpieces or mouth guards, which work by repositioning the jaw so that your airway can open in the proper way.
However, I recommend that you view these anti-snoring devices with skepticism – not all of them have enough scientific research to back up their claims of functionality. Some devices are so poorly designed that some pillow-chin straps, for example, may even completely cover the wearer’s mouth.
Try these simple home remedies for snoring
Sleeping on your side. For some people, this simple method is effective enough because it prevents the tongue from sticking back into the throat and causing airway obstruction.
Raise your head a little higher. This will prevent your airway from being squeezed. You can try placing a 4-inch thick wedge or blockage under the mattress and elevating it.
Try using an oral appliance. Some dentists can help you build a device that changes the opening of your airway, leaving enough room for your tongue so it doesn’t block your airway.
Use a steam bowl. Before going to bed, pour a bowl of hot water, cover with a towel, place your head right above the hot water, and breathe deeply to inhale the steam. This will help clear your airway and reduce the swelling of your nasal passages.
Don’t overeat at night. A stomach stuffed with food can squeeze your diaphragm, further hindering your ability to breathe smoothly.
Manage your weight. Overweight people often have excess tissue in the throat area, which can also lead to snoring.