We all know what snoring sounds like. That unmistakable, repetitive noise coming from our sleeping partner drives all of us nuts. What’s snoring and what are the causes of snoring? Let us dive deeper into this very common problem.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is a noisy breathing which occurs while you sleep. When you doze off and go from light sleep to deep sleep, the muscles at the roof of your mouth, tongue and throat relax. These soft tissues can relax enough such that they partially block your airway. When air flows through this narrowed passage, it causes the relaxed soft tissues to vibrate. These repetitive vibrations then emit noise which we perceive as snoring.
The more narrowed your airway, the more turbulent and forceful the airflow becomes. Also, soft tissues tend to become more floppy and loose with age. These factors increase the amplitude of tissue vibration, which causes your snoring to become louder.
Occasional snoring isn’t usually a serious problem as it is mostly an annoyance for your bed partner. However, if you’re a chronic snorer, your sleep may be fragmented and you deprive your partner of quality sleep too.
What are the common causes of Snoring?
Snoring occurs when airflow through your upper airways is blocked. Several problems can interfere with airflow, such as:
- Blocked nasal passages: Nasal congestion from allergic rhinitis, deviated nasal septum (crooked partition between nostrils), benign growths can all hamper the flow of air through the nose
- Mouth anatomy: A long uvula (dangling tissue at the back of your mouth) and a thick, low soft palate can narrow your airway. This reduces airflow through your mouth during sleep.
- Bulky throat tissue: Some people have enlarged tonsils and adenoids that make them snore.
- Gender: Men are more likely to snore, but women snore too. It’s been estimated that up to 40% of men and 24% of women snore.
- Weight: Obesity is a well known risk factor for snoring.
- Ageing: As we grow older, the airway muscles relax and the soft tissues start to lose collagen and loosen. These results in a narrower airway with lax tissues that are more likely to vibrate.
- Alcohol and sedative medications: alcoholic drinks and sedatives depresses your central nervous system and further relaxes muscles that keep your airway open. This can lead to partial closure and collapse of your airway.
If you snore, you should first try out some lifestyle changes which may be helpful. In addition, there are effective treatments such as Fotona NightLase® that may safely and comfortably reduce snoring. If you snore loudly, you should seek medical help for a better night’s sleep for you and your partner.