Statistics has it that about 45% of normal adults snore at least occasionally. Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep, and it is a common problem among all ages and both genders. It affects approximately 90 million American adults.
Snoring may occur nightly or intermittently, and persons who are most at risk are males, and those who are overweight. Snoring is a problem of both genders, but women do not present with this complaint as frequently as men.
Snoring usually becomes more serious as people age, as it can cause disruptions to your own sleep and your bed partner’s sleep. It can also lead to fragmented and un-refreshing sleep, which translates into daytime tiredness and lethargy.
The most common adverse health effects that are believed to be causally linked to snoring are daytime dysfunction and heart disease and about one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea.
Why We Snore
During sleep, the muscles of the throat and mouth relax, thus, narrowing the trachea (the “windpipe” that carries air to and from the lungs) which diminishes airflow when you breathe.
Within the narrowed airway, the tissues of the soft palate and uvula shake and vibrate, resulting in the noises of snoring.
While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrowed and flaccid. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration of the soft palate and uvula, and the louder your snoring.
Sometimes the walls of the throat collapse completely, creating a condition called sleep apnea, which is a serious condition that requires medical attention.
The Health Risks Linked To Snoring
Snoring is noisy and annoying and disrupts healthy, sound, restorative sleep. A snoring partner often keeps the other person from a good night’s sleep, which can eventually lead to separate bedrooms.
Snoring can create real problems in a marriage. Not only is snoring a nuisance, but most people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea, which increases the risk of developing heart disease.
Snoring is also linked to increased risks for other health problems. According to scientific research, people who snore also face an increased risk of the following health issues:
- Heart disease
- Accidental injury
- Depression and anxiety
- Diminished sexual drive and satisfaction
Risk Factors That Increase Your Likelihood Of A Snoring Problem:
- Being overweight: being overweight significantly elevates your chances of snoring.
- Inflammation of the nostril, the throat, and the airway, which can be caused by conditions such as allergies and respiratory infections.
- Alcohol consumption causes exaggerated muscle relaxation, which can make snoring, more probable.
- Smoking irritates the sensitive tissues of the nose, throat, and airway, making them more likely to vibrate and cause the snoring sound.
- Sleeping on your back can lead to a narrower airway, and you are more likely to snoring when sleeping on your back, rather than your sides.
Natural Solutions And Lifestyle Changes, That May, Help You Stop Snoring
There are lifestyles changes that can help to reduce your snoring:
- Lose weight, because, even a small weight loss, can make a significant difference to snoring.
- Change sleeping positions, since sleeping on your side can diminish the frequency and intensity of snoring, compared to sleeping on your back.
- Avoid alcohol, as well as heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Quit smoking, and
- Seek treatment for allergies and respiratory problems.
- Talk to your doctor about the medications you’re taking, since some medications, including antihistamines and sleeping pills, can aggravate a snoring problem.
Congestion and irritation in the nose and throat are common causes of snoring, and you can decongest for better rest. A clear nose and throat that’s also not dry or irritated will allow you to breathe better while you sleep. This can help to reduce or eliminate snoring.
To alleviate your snoring, work your way through these strategies:
- Use a saline spray or nasal wash to help clear them of debris that clogs the passages and reduce the size of internal tissues.
- Try a decongestant spray to reduce mucus and congestion in the nasal passages by narrowing blood vessels.
- Dilate the nasal passages externally, since strips placed on the exterior of the nose help keep nasal passages open during sleep. Research has shown that this treatment can reduce the frequency and intensity of snoring.
- Dilate the nasal passages internally, using internal nasal dilators that work to reduce congestion and snoring. These dilators are stents or cones placed inside the nostrils during sleep.
- Use a mouth guard that can reduce snoring by gently moving the lower jaw forward and holding the tongue down, helping to keep the airway open during sleep. If you are buying a mouth guard over the counter, select one that uses a boil and bites mold to create a shape that fits your mouth. You cam as well use one that is moveable and able to adjust your lower jaw, as well as hold down your tongue.
Check with your dentist before starting to use a mouth guard, to make sure it’s appropriate for you to use and won’t result in jaw pain or tooth movement. Mouth guards can work for snoring but are not appropriate to treat obstructive sleep apnea.
When It Is More Than Snoring
Snoring is sometimes a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. This is a more serious form of sleep-disrupted breathing, where people experience periodic interruptions to their breathing during sleep, as the airway closes and temporarily cuts off normal airflow.
These interruptions can be occasional, with mild sleep apnea, or they can happen frequently (up to 30 times in an hour) throughout the night, with moderate to severe sleep apnea.