The truth is, snoring is more than an annoyance – your health may be at risk!
When’s the last time someone said they actually enjoy the sound of snoring? What’s snoring besides an obnoxious sound? How does it happen and how can it be prevented? Snoring – that annoying habit you might not know you have – but it might be affecting your health and interfering with yours and your partner’s sleep.
The definition of snoring
While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward and your throat becomes narrow and “floppy.” As you breathe, the walls of your throat begin to vibrate – generally when you breathe in, but (to a lesser extent) when you breathe out. These vibrations lead to the characteristic sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder you snore. Sometimes the walls of your throat may collapse completely so that it’s completely blocked, creating a condition called Sleep Apnea (cessation of breathing). If this sounds serious, it is – serious enough for medical attention.
Are you an at-risk-snorer?
If snoring is coming between you and a good night’s sleep, it’s time to break the habit. While talking to your doctor is a smart option, let’s begin with some possible reasons snoring has become part of your life.
- Are you male? The sad truth is that men snore more than women – leading to a night divorce for some couples. Although women snore (approx. 24%), more than 40% of men saw the midnight logs, according to The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. One theory is that men sleep deeper than women and are less sensitive to being woken to noises.
- Are you overweight? Obesity may cause or exacerbate snoring in a number of ways. The most obvious is that the extra weight you’re carrying presses on the lungs and upper airway during sleep, making breathing more difficult. But it’s also possible hormones, which can collect in fatty deposits and accumulate to higher than normal levels, may play a part.
- Are you tired during the day? A classic sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is tiredness during the day with no obvious explained cause. A patient with OSA will experience non-breathing events during the night. These stressful non-breathing events occur when your breathing is abnormally shallow or a very low respiratory rate, which is normally during sleep. If it sounds scary, that’s because it is – OSA comes with its own associated set of risks (including high blood pressure and heart disease). DO NOT wait to see a doctor if you suspect OSA.
How to fix your snoring problem
Want to reduce and eliminate snoring in your life? There are a few things you can do at home before you visit a sleep doctor. This list may not eliminate snoring all together but it may make it more manageable in your life.
- Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Being overweight by just a few pounds can lead to snoring. Fatty tissue around your neck squeezes the airway and prevents air from flowing in and out freely during sleep.
- Try to sleep on your side rather than your back. When we sleep on our back, our tongue, chin and any excess fatty tissue under the chin can relax and squash the airway. If sleeping on your side feels unnatural, sew some tennis balls into your nightshirt to help train you to sleep on your side.
- Keep your nasal passages clear. Make it easier to breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth. If an allergy is blocking your nose, try antihistamine tablets or a nasal spray. Ask your pharmacist for advice or see your GP, if you’re affected by an allergy or any other condition that affects your nose or breathing, such as sinusitis.
While these are simple and inexpensive ways to aid that terrible habit, remember that snoring can be a sign of a variety of health problems – some of them life-threatening. Sleep Apnea being just one. If you think that you may have signs of this sleep disorder – or any other medical condition – it’s imperative to contact a medical professional.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- Heart health and how you can live longer
- How sleep deprivation impacts your health
- If you work nights, smart sleep habits will help maintain good health