At some point in our lives, we all snore. In adults, about 40% of women and 57% of men snore habitually. There are some people who snore on a regular basis without having a sleep disorder, known as primary snoring. However, snoring could be a symptom of a sleep disorder called sleep apnea, which affects your quality of sleep and can result in several other health problems. So if you snore loudly and often, and maybe one or both of you and your partner cannot have a good night’s sleep, see your doctor.
When you snore, you make a loud, harsh, raspy, or harsh noise. This noise is generated when air breathed in through your nose or mouth flows into your lungs and makes the tissues in and around your throat vibrate during sleep. Snoring may be because of a person’s anatomy (mouth, jaw, tongue, and throat), weight, or lifestyle and sleep habits such as sleeping on one’s back or consuming alcohol in excess.
- What causes snoring?
How to stop snoring
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
- Sleep on your side instead of your back
- Elevate your head when you sleep
- Use nasal strips or a nasal dilator
- Get enough sleep
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime
- Avoid taking certain medications
- Quit smoking
- Treat nasal congestion
- Use an oral appliance.
- Use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.
- Wear palatal implants.
If you snore and it affects either you or your bed partner’s sleep, see your doctor. There are medical devices such as oral appliances and if necessary, surgical interventions to address. If you also notice other symptoms like waking up tired after a full night’s sleep, waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth, irritability, daytime fatigue, and other worrisome symptoms, see your doctor. It could be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea requires prompt and appropriate treatment with lifestyle changes, CPAP machines, oral appliances, and/or surgery. These can reduce how much you snore and improve your quality of life.
It is important to understand the various causes of snoring and be able to identify if your snoring is something you should be worried about, and what actions you need to take to stop it.
What causes snoring?
Naturally, the muscles of your tongue, soft palate, and throat relax when you sleep. When they relax, they can block your airway partially or completely. When that happens, your soft palate and uvula (the little thingy that hangs at the back of your mouth) and sometimes the tonsils and adenoids vibrate against your throat as you breathe. This process is what bring about the hoarse, raspy, or harsh sounds you make when you sleep. The narrower your airway is , the more the mouth and throat tissues vibrate against each other, the louder you snore.
There are several possible reasons that make your upper airways partially or completely blocked when you sleep and cause snoring. They include:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
While loud snoring does not mean you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it is a primary symptom of OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a most common type of sleep apnea that occurs due to the physical blockage of the upper airway during sleep. In other words, OSA occurs when the upper airway at the back of the throat become partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that is potentially serious and can cause more severe health complications. People with sleep apnea experience multiple interruptions in breathing when they sleep. It can last up to 20 seconds or longer and can occur up to 30 times or more in an hour. People with OSA are reported to snore loudly when they sleep with periods of silence when they stop breathing. After a few seconds, they start breathing with a gasp, snort, or a body jerk.
Undiagnosed and untreated OSA can result in poor sleep, low blood oxygen levels, high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, stroke, heart failure, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy (a heart disease that makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood to your body), and other heart problems. Sleepiness during the day can affect your performance in school, work, or in carrying out other activities. It can also cause accidents while driving.
Fortunately, treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can resolve these symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment options for OSA includes the use of oral appliances, lifestyle changes, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, and surgery.
Older age is often associated with sleep disorders, including loud snoring and sleep disordered breathing. As you age, the tongue and throat muscles lose tone and become weaker. The airway becomes narrower.
While you can do anything about aging, there are other things you can do prevent snoring. They include lifestyle modifications, new bedtime routines, and mouth and throat exercises (or myofunctional therapy). These remedies can also help to stop snoring totally.
Being Overweight or Obese
Being overweight or obese means can cause snoring as it reduces muscle tone. Also, having excess tissue around your neck narrows the upper airway and can thus contribute to snoring. Losing weight through diet and exercise can help you stop snoring.
Nose, Mouth and Throat Anatomy
The size and shape of structures of your nose, mouth, and throat can block or narrow the airway and lead to snoring. Examples include deviated nasal septum (where the wall between the nostrils is tilted to a side), having polyps (growths) within the nasal passages, having a large tongue, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, having a narrow throat, and having a small jaw. These features are often hereditary and men naturally are born with narrower airways than women.
Treatment options for people with structural differences include oral appliances and surgery. The aim of these forms of treatment is to make the airway patent for adequate flow of air in and out of the lungs. They have also be shown to improve symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Alcohol and Certain Medications
Taking alcohol and certain medications such as depressants, sedatives (or sleeping pills), tranquilizers, and muscle relaxants can relax your throat muscles and end up causing snoring. Hence, if you snore regularly either naturally or due to sleep apnea, drinking alcohol and using some medications can result in severe snoring.
It is best to avoid taking alcohol and these drugs close to bedtime to reduce snoring.
If you smoke, you are likely to snore. This may be because smoking is a risk factor for OSA. Smoking makes the airway inflamed, sore, and open to infections. It can also cause fluid retention (edema) in the airway and hence, narrow or block it. Nicotine also affects the chest muscles and diaphragm used in breathing. These all cause snoring and sleep apnea. Studies show that quitting smoking over time help in reducing snoring.
Chronic Nasal Congestion
Having a stuffy nose can make breathing difficult and cause your airway to collapse. Nasal congestion can be because of an allergy, infection, structural abnormality in your nose, or environmental factors like dry air.
Over time, chronic nasal congestion can result in habitual snoring. To treat snoring caused by chronic congestion depends on the cause and may require the use nasal decongestants or nasal steroids.
Sleeping in a supine position (sleeping flat on your back) can predispose you snoring. This is because lying on your back makes gravity influence the tissues in and around your airway. They are drawn downwards and constrict the airway.
Research shows that sleeping in a lateral position (lying on your side ) can reduce the frequency and intensity of snoring. To achieve this, you may undergo positional therapy which helps you to avoid sleeping on your back. These include using special sleep pillows, positional alarms, and modified nightshirts.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive and does not produce enough thyroid hormone. If left untreated, it leads to symptoms such as a weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, slow heart rate, and slow speech. These symptoms can contribute to snoring or make snoring worse. Treating hypothyroidism involves taking medications that replaces the deficient thyroid hormone.
If you are not getting enough sleep or restful sleep, you are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation can make your throat muscles to relax and cause snoring. OSA can affect how much sleep you get, and in turn worsen snoring.
How to stop snoring
Snoring can be treated or stopped through lifestyle changes, treating underlying health conditions, use of oral appliances, CPAP machines, and surgery.
Lose weight if you are overweight or obese
Weight loss helps reduce the fatty tissue in the throat and reduce or even stop, snoring. You may lose weight through eating healthy and regular exercise. Eating healthy requires you to reduce your overall calorie intake, replacing your food options with whole grains, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables to your diet. You also need to eat smaller portions at a time. A doctor or nutritionist could help you with getting that healthy weight you desire.
Sleep on your side instead of your back
Sleep positions can determine whether or not you will snore. If you are one to always sleep on your back, you need to change your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back makes gravity to pull your tongue and your tissues around your throat backwards, obstructing the air passage and causing snoring. Sleeping on your side eases breathing and can reduce or treat snoring.
If you are used to sleeping on your back, you may use various strategies to help you change the sleeping habit. You could use a tennis ball attached to your night wear through a sock sewn to the back of the cloth. The discomfort the ball causes when you roll on your back will make you sleep on your side (lateral position). After you do this for a while, your default sleep position changes.
Elevate your head when you sleep
Another way to stop snoring is to elevate your head when you sleep. It could be your own head or that of your bed. If it is yours, you may use special wedge pillows as they help to prevent the crimping or folding of your neck muscles and prevent snoring. You could also elevate the head of your bed by 4 inches. It helps keep your tongue and jaw forward, your airway open, and stops snoring and sleep apnea.
Use nasal strips or a nasal dilator
These are a type of adhesive bandage designed to keep your septum open and reduce snoring. Nasal strips can be placed across the bridge and sides of the nose to keep the nasal passage open. This makes breathing easier and more effective, and cure snoring.
Nasal dilators could also be used. A nasal dilator is a small device that helps increase the space in your nasal passages and keep it open. It makes it easier to breathe and stops snoring.
Get enough sleep
When you are sleep deprived, you may snore during sleep because it can make the muscles in your throat relax. Hence, getting enough and restful sleep can prevent and eliminate snoring. Physicians recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
Avoid alcohol before bedtime
Do not take alcohol for at least two hours before bedtime. Drinking alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, constrict your airway, and cause snoring.
Avoid taking certain medications
These medications include sedatives, depressants, tranquilizers, and muscle relaxants. Taking these medications especially close to your bedtime can cause snoring, hence avoiding them is the way to go to stop snoring. You may have to talk to your doctor about this.
Smoking affects the passages in your nose, muscles in your throat, chest and diaphragm resulting in snoring and sleep apnea. As an unhealthy habit, it is often difficult to stop. See your doctor to help as you may need therapies such as gums and patches. Quitting smoking can help you cure snoring.
Treat nasal congestion
Allergies and infections can lead to chronic nasal congestion, stuffy nose, and affect your breathing. This makes you likely to snore. Hence, treating these can relief snoring. You may need medical treatment and if you have allergies, reduce allergens in your bedroom such as dust mites, pollen, odors, and pet pander.
To decongest stuffy nose, rinse your nasal sinuses with saline before bed. You may also use nasal strips, nasal decongestant, or a neti pot to aid breathing when you sleep.
Use an oral appliance.
Oral appliances are also known as dental devices or mouthpieces. The appliance works by holding your mandible (lower jaw) in a precise open and forward position and by doing so all the soft tissues in your throat and neck are no longer able to collapse and cause snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. You need to see your dentist to get a custom-made device for you.
Use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.
The CPAP machine is a medical device that is place at your bedside and helps to keep your airway open when you sleep. It does this by blowing pressurized air through a mask you wear over your nose or your face open. This device is used to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Wear palatal implants.
This is also referred to as the “pillar procedure” and involves inserting small, braided plastic strands into the soft palate of your mouth. It prevents the soft palate from collapsing and stops snoring.
Surgical intervention may be required to treat snoring. This may be needed to correct structural defects or problems in the mouth, nose and throat. These include deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, etc. Some surgical procedures that can reduce snoring include the following:
This type of surgery involves rearranging the tissues of the uvula, palate, and throat to help reduce snoring. It s aimed at increasing the airway and preventing tissue collapse and vibrations. There is also a similar, more effective procedure known as laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (LA-UPPP) that uses laser to perform the surgery.
It also known as radiofrequency tissue ablation. It involves the use of low-level radiofrequency heat to remove or shrink tissues of the uvula and soft palate to reduce snoring. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes.
Other surgeries include Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP), tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy. They are all done to remove tissues, correct abnormalities and increase the size of your airway.
Snoring occurs when your soft palate, uvula, and sometimes the tonsils and adenoids vibrate against your throat as you breathe during sleep. Snoring could be nothing serious to worry about. However, it may be a symptom of a sleep-related disorder. Talk to your doctor if you snore and experience other worrisome symptoms.
Prompt treatment of snoring and OSA can prevent complications like high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and heart problems. Your doctor will provide medical advice, evaluate your sleep patterns, ask questions on how easily you fall asleep and if you experience disrupted sleep and other symptoms, and recommend treatment options. An oral appliance works for both snoring and OSA. It is affordable, comfortable, and non-invasive. You can conveniently get a custom-made one by contacting us.