A soft or loud sound from a sleeping person is called a snore. Snoring is common in most individuals, while the underlying reasons may vary.
Snoring is not really a disease but can truly irritate the person sleeping nearby. There are indeed ways to stop snoring. Delve into the article to know more about snoring.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound caused by obstructed air movement during sleep.
Snoring usually occurs when the airflow through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose becomes partially obstructed. This is the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures collide and vibrate while breathing.
Causes of snoring
Blocked nasal airways
Breathing through a stuffy or congested nose is a task. Greater suction forces are created while breathing through a partially blocked nose. This can cause the throat to collapse and cause snoring as the uvula and soft palate begins to flap.
Snoring can also be caused by nose or nasal septum deformities like a deviated septum.
Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue
When muscles are over-relaxed, the tongue falls back into the airway, or the throat muscles draw in from the sides. Sleep-inducing medications may exacerbate muscle relaxation and obstruction. This causes snoring.
Bulky tissues in the throat
Snoring is common in children with large adenoids and tonsils. Too much tissue in the neck of obese people can cause airway narrowing, making the person snore.
Snoring is also noticeable in people with large tongues. Rare causes of airway narrowing include tumours and cysts.
Long soft palate
A lengthy palate narrows the opening from the nose to the throat. During relaxed breathing, the excessive length of the soft palate and uvula acts as a noisy flutter valve.
Alcohol and drug use
Snoring occurs by drinking alcohol or taking medications that cause drowsiness or relaxation. Certain drugs and alcoholic beverages relax muscles, restricting airflow in the mouth, nose and throat, producing sound during sleep.
Sleeping on the back raises the chances of snoring. Snoring can be caused due to this because the tongue can block the airway.
Sleep deprivation can cause the throat to relax, resulting in snoring.
Symptoms of snoring
Snoring is sometimes a symptom of sleep disorders. But here are a few symptoms of snoring.
Breathing pauses during sleep
An article from Pubmed conveys that breathing pauses are common during sleep for people with obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring is often a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Daytime sleepiness is increased due to loud snoring as the night sleep process is greatly disturbed.
Cognitive impairment is usual for people snoring as poor sleep decreases the ability of the brain to store and retrieve memories. It also hampers the concentration power of the person.
Breathing pauses result in insufficient oxygen availability and increase the blood’s carbon dioxide concentration. Breathing pauses are regularly seen in people who snore.
The lack of oxygen affects the blood flow to the brain and the nervous system, resulting in morning headaches.
Sore throat upon awakening
Breathing through the mouth is frequent while snoring. This causes dryness and irritation in the throat. Also, the snoring causes vibration of the tissues in the throat, resulting in a sore throat.
Snoring can cause restless sleep and poor sleep quality. It can also indicate another underlying sleep disorder.
Treatments for snoring
Few lifestyle changes to counter snoring include,
- Lose weight: Snoring is frequently noticed in obese or overweight individuals. This is because the excess fat accumulation in the neck and throat causes a blockage, resulting in snoring. Losing weight can reduce this problem.
- Reduce alcohol consumption: Alcohol causes the throat muscle to relax more than usual, known to cause snoring.
- Reduce tobacco use: Tobacco use not only helps reduce snoring but also prevents many diseases.
- Sleep position: Since sleeping on the back is associated with snoring, side sleeping is encouraged. Elevating the bed by four inches is also found to be helpful.
- Nose congestion: Treating a blocked nose helps reduce snoring.
Oral appliance therapy is considered as an effective treatment option for snoring. It is recommended to wear the oral appliance while sleeping.
It fits over the teeth like an orthodontic retainer and supports the jaw to stay forward. This keeps the airway open.
Surgery is recommended only in rare cases. Surgical options for snoring include,
- Radiofrequency ablation or Somnoplasty: Works by shrinking the tongue and soft palate tissues.
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy: It is the procedure to remove tonsils or adenoids that cause snoring.
- Septoplasty: Corrects the deviated septum in the nose, improving airflow and preventing snoring.
- Palate surgery: This surgery removes the soft palate tissues that obstruct breathing.
- Palatal implant: Also known as the pillar surgery, treats snoring.
CPAP therapy is one of the best treatments for curing snoring due to sleep apnea.
CPAP machines function by continuously supplying the individual with oxygen throughout the night, allowing the airways to remain open and preventing the vibrations that cause snoring.
Snoring is diagnosed by running a few tests.
Imaging tests like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT scan) and X-ray. These tests are used to examine the problem in airway structure.
The sleep study, also known as polysomnography, is a non-invasive procedure that monitors sleeping patterns and behaviour to see any irregularities.
The brain activity, muscle tone and movement, airflow, heart rhythm, heart rate, breathing rate and oxygen saturation will be assessed during the sleep study.
The results of a sleep study will give information about the sleep pattern and sleep disorders that cause snoring.
Risk factors of snoring
Being a man
Like other muscles, the tongue relaxes and falls in the oropharynx ( Space behind the tongue) during sleep. Since this space is larger for men than women, they tend to snore more.
Neck fat is high for an overweight person, compressing the airway during sleep and causing snoring.
Having a narrow airway
The soft tissues of the upper airway vibrate due to narrowed airway, producing the snoring sound.
When a person is intoxicated, the muscles in the back of the throat close faster than when they are normal. The more a person drinks, the more relaxed are the tissues, causing a loud snore.
Having nasal problems
Nose congestions results in mouth breathing which causes the throat muscles to relax, and the person ends up snoring.
Having a family history of snoring
Obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and other medical conditions that are genetic may pass on to the next generation, causing snoring.
Home remedies to stop snoring
Sleep on the side
Lying on the side is the best way to stop snoring since there is less compression of the airways.
Elevate the head of the bed a few inches
The pressure and compression on the airways and nasal passages are significantly reduced by elevating the head of the bed.
Use nasal strips
Nasal strips relieve congested nose by opening nasal passages. These strips pull the side of the nose and widen the nostrils, helping reduce snoring.
Stick to a sleep schedule
Maintaining a proper sleep schedule and getting adequate sleep daily prevents and treats snoring.
When to see a doctor?
It may appear trivial to consult a doctor about snoring, but snoring can affect the quality of sleep and can also indicate sleep apnea.
Here are some factors indicating the need for a doctor’s consultation.
- Snoring that affects the person and their partner
- Loud snore
- Tiredness and mood swings every day
- Constant gasping and choking in bed
- Pain that prevents sleep
- Waking up at odd hours
A healthcare professional can examine these symptoms and advise on further treatment.
Snoring significantly impacts the person who shares a bed or bedroom with the snorer. Chronic snoring may disrupt their sleep and potentially cause conflict in the home.
Although snoring is regular and everyone snores occasionally, excessive snoring can have medical and social consequences. It is, therefore, necessary to diagnose the cause and treat it with the help of a professional.
How to reduce snoring?
Sleeping on the side, using a nasal strip, trying mouth exercise, reducing weight and avoiding alcohol can reduce snoring.
How to stop snoring while sleeping?
Taking treatment can help stop snoring. This includes using oral appliances, lifestyle changes, side sleeping and surgery in extreme cases.
How should someone who snores sleep?
A snoring person should sleep on the side to avoid airway compression.
What to do if someone snores a lot?
The person must consult a general practitioner. It is recommended for the partner to focus elsewhere, wear earplugs, sleep in another room and finally take the patient to a doctor if the snore is louder.