Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. It is a common condition that can affect anyone, although it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight. Snoring has a tendency to worsen with age.
Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for your bed partner. However, if you are a habitual snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you, but you also impair your own sleep quality. Medical assistance is often needed for habitual snorers (and their loved ones) to get a good night’s sleep.
Why It Happens
If you snore, it’s because the relaxed tissues in your throat vibrate as the air you breathe in rushes past them. About half of U.S. adults do it from time to time. Things like your weight, your health, and the shape of your mouth can make you more likely to sound like you’re sawing logs during the night.
How Do I Know If I Snore?
If it’s loud enough to wake your partner, you probably have heard about it. If you don’t believe them or sleep alone and want to know for sure, turn on a voice-activated recorder before you fall sleep.
Anything that stops you from breathing through your nose can make you snore, like if you’re stopped up from a cold, flu, or allergies. Over-the-counter medicines or nasal strips can help open up those airways, but talk to your doctor if you’re stuffed up for weeks at a time.
You Sleep on Your Back
This can make you snore or make it worse. Sleeping on your side is better, and cuddling with your partner — “spooning” — gets both of you on your sides. You also could try sleeping with two or three stacked pillows so you’re not flat on your back. If neither of those works, sew a small pocket between the shoulder blades of a shirt that’s a little tight. Put a tennis ball in the pocket so it’s uncomfortable when you roll onto your back.
The Shape of Your Nose
If the thin wall between your nostrils didn’t form quite right, one side can be smaller than the other — that’s called a deviated septum. That can make it harder for you to breathe and make you snore. The same can happen if your nose was hurt in an accident. Talk to your doctor if you think something like this is going on with you — surgery can sometimes fix it.
The Shape of Your Mouth
If the upper part of your mouth toward your throat — your soft palate — is low and thick, it can narrow your airway and make you snore. That also can happen if the small piece of tissue that hangs from your soft palate — the uvula — is longer than usual. You may be born with these things, but they can get worse if you’re overweight. Surgery can sometimes help with this, too.
Is It Your Medication?
Drugs that make you sleepy (called sedatives), muscle relaxants, and some antidepressants can relax your tongue and the muscles in your throat. Talk to your doctor if you snore and take any of those — she may be able to change your meds.
This is serious snoring that stops your breathing as you sleep. It may make you gasp for breath or wake you during the night. Signs of it include dry mouth, headache, or a sore throat in the morning. It’s linked to stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease, so see your doctor if you think you might have sleep apnea. She may recommend a device that helps you breathe while you sleep or, in some cases, surgery.
If Your Child Snores
It’s not unusual for kids to snore now and then, especially if they have a cold or allergy. But in some cases, it can be a sign of an infection in the sinuses, throat, lungs, or airways, or possibly sleep apnea. If you’ve noticed that your child snores loudly most nights, talk with her pediatrician about it.
If You’re Pregnant
Moms-to-be are likely to snore because their nasal passages can swell and make it harder to breathe. Weight gain during pregnancy also can push on the diaphragm, which helps move air in and out of your lungs. But pregnant women should tell their doctors if they snore, because it can be linked to health issues like high blood pressure.
Health Risks Associated With Snoring
Habitual snoring can be a sign of a serious health problem, including obstructive sleep, apnea.Sleep apnea creates several problems, including:
- Interruptions of breathing (lasting from a few seconds to minutes) during sleep caused by partial or total obstruction or blockage of the airway
- Frequent waking from sleep, even though you may not realize it
- Light sleeping. Waking up so many times a night interferes with the normal pattern of sleep, causing more time to be spent in light sleep than in more restorative, deeper sleep.
- Strain on the heart. Prolonged suffering from obstructive sleep apnea often results in higher blood pressure and may cause enlargement of the heart with higher risks of heart attack and stroke.
- Poor night’s sleep. This leads to drowsiness during the day and can interfere with your quality of life and increase risk for car accidents.
What You Can Do:
People who suffer mild or occasional snoring, who wake up feeling refreshed, and function well during the day may first try the following behavioral remedies, before consulting their doctor:
- Lose weight. You’re more likely to snore if you’re overweight, especially if your neck is more than 17 inches around. Losing a few pounds may help keep it in check — talk to your doctor about a plan that would be right for you.
- Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before retiring
- Establish regular sleeping patterns
- Sleep on your side rather than your back.
Now you know how bad and dangerous snoring is not only to your bed mate but your health. Take steps to ensure that you stop snoring.
Compiled by :Victoria Soglo