What is Snoring?
Everybody will snore at some point in their life, but habitual snoring only occurs in about 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women. Snoring tends to run in families but can affect men and women at different stages in their life. Men become less likely to snore after the age of 70, but prevalence of snoring in women is more common following the menopause. Most snorers do not realise they snore, but their partners can be kept awake if it is particularly loud! Keep reading to find out what is snoring, what can cause snoring and some remedies to help everyone get a good night’s sleep.
What is snoring?
The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association define snoring as a coarse sound made by vibrations of the soft palate and other tissue in the mouth, nose and throat. It is caused by turbulence inside the airway during inhalation, which can result from a partial blockage that may be located anywhere from the tip of the nose to the vocal chords. Snoring only occurs when asleep as this is when muscle tone is reduced and therefore cannot prevent the airway tissue from vibrating. Snoring cannot be stopped at will or cured, but it can be controlled. The key to finding the best remedy is to identify what type of snorer you are, which can vary depending on what has caused the snoring to start with.
Causes of snoring
There are a number of potential causes for snoring, but aside from being hereditary, it is mostly due to lifestyle factors. Overeating and or a lack of exercise can lead to snoring as increased fat around the neck could mean you may not have the muscle tone necessary to keep the airway open sufficiently at night. Therefore, instead of breathing normally, the narrow airway is more likely to vibrate and cause snoring. If you are overweight, weight loss will lead to other health benefits as well as reducing the likelihood of snoring.
Drinking alcohol also affects the airways as it relaxes the muscles even more than normal, so you will be more likely to snore. Alcohol can cause irritation to the nasal airway which increases resistance when breathing, so snoring occurs. Smoking can have a similar impact as the smoke irritates the lining of the nasal cavity. If the nasal passage is congested, you will then breathe through your mouth, which is what causes snoring. Stopping drinking or smoking at least 4 hours before you go to bed should allow your body enough time to reduce the effects of the smoke or alcohol on your airways.
Allergies are another common cause of snoring as they also block the nasal airways and force you to sleep with your mouth open, which increases the chance of snoring. The common theme across these causes is that breathing through the mouth is often the reason for people’s snoring. Aside from nasal congestion or the relaxation of muscles in the airway, this could just be a result of your sleeping position. Sleeping on your front or side should reduce snoring and sleeping on your back can increase chances of snoring and sleep apnoea. This is because gravity will force your tongue to relax into the airway, obstructing breathing.
Snoring is generally harmless and can be treated relatively easily, but it can affect your health if it takes the form of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). This is the cessation of airflow during sleep preventing air from entering the lungs caused by an obstruction. These periods of ‘stopping breathing’ only become clinically significant if the cessation lasts for more than 10 seconds each time and occur more than 5 times every hour. If you have experienced this and have any concerns, speak to your doctor. Even if your snoring is not affecting how you sleep, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor, in case it is a symptom of underlying health issues.
It is often those with partners who snore that suffer the worst effects due to the disruption it can cause. However, this in turn can impact the snorers if a disgruntled partner consistently wakes them up in an effort to get them to stop! Those who snore can use a variety of remedies to help alleviate snoring, such as nasal strips or mouth-breathing devices. If you have a partner who snores, you could use our Lunox earplugs to block out the sound or if that fails, try our Lunox Sleep Aid tablets to help you drift off – always check with your doctor first.