Snoring: All You Need to Know about Causes and Treatments
Sleeping next to someone who snores can be one of the most uncomfortable ordeals you ever face. This is even worse if you are a light sleeper, and you simply cannot get any sleep at all. I bet the self-consciousness that comes with being told you snore is not great either. It is a loss on either side of the scales.
Getting a good night’s sleep is a culmination of many internal and external factors that you might easily overlook. I started this blog after my retirement to provide as much help as possible to anyone looking to change their lives and get healthy sleep free from insomnia. Here, I also provide advice on the use of various sleep aids and the little details in between that can result in your healthy sleep.
In this article, I will take a look at a common problem that afflicts millions of people worldwide and has far-reaching consequences on the quality of your life, snoring.
- 1 What Is Snoring?
- 2 Why Do People Snore?
- 3 How to Prevent Snoring?
- 4 What Snoring Remedies Can Treat Snoring?
- 5 What Are the Treatment Options for Snoring?
- 6 Understanding Snoring for Better Sleep
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is a loud and often very crude sound that is produced from your airways when you are asleep. It ranges from a soft growl to loud and often very rough sounds. The person’s gender does not matter, snoring sounds terrible either way. It affects people of all ages, from young kids up to your grandparents and retirees like myself. There is, however, a higher tendency for snoring to affect people that consume large amounts of alcohol. People that are overweight are also more likely to experience snoring as compared to individuals of average weight and build.
Also, snoring can be a sign of a larger underlying problem, most common of these is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA is when an individual`s breathing is periodically very obstructed or completely stops when they are asleep. This is the most common issue among overweight individuals and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible, as it can be fatal.
Signs that you snore at night, aside from being told by those who you live with, include drowsiness, lack of proper sleeping patterns, increased irritability, diminished focus, and low libido. These are some of the effects that snoring cause and the more severe ones are rare and include potential cardiac complications.
Why Do People Snore?
Snoring is a result of relaxed throat muscles that, in turn, cause your airways to be constricted. So, what causes snoring? When you breathe in and out, air forces its way in and out causing the relaxed muscles to vibrate in an unusual way producing the harsh sound. What causes snores is, therefore, anything that will result in your throat relaxing while you are asleep. Here is a shortlist of some of the things known to cause snoring:
Blockage in Your Nasal Airways
A blocked airway will cause unusual air movement, which is likely to create vibrations when you sleep. This is why there is a higher tendency to snore when you have the flu or allergies that have your nose blocked.
Alcohol Consumption and Use of Drugs
After a night out, when you fall like a log on your bed, if you make it there, you are likely to snore. The reason is that alcohol causes the muscles in your entire body to relax. When the uvula and the soft palate are relaxed, you will snore. I would advise moderation if you are the type of person to snore after a drink or two. Taking medication such as muscle relaxers or the use of drugs that have the same effect can also cause snoring.
Large Throat Tissue
This is common among overweight individuals. Accumulation of fat around the throat can cause the restriction of your airways. The result is an even smaller space for the passage of air when sleeping.
Poor sleeping posture can contort your throat and create a blockage to the passage of air while you sleep, which causes you to snore. This is why healthy individuals tend to snore from time to time. It is also possible to snore when lying on your back while sleeping. At night, your whole body relaxes as you slowly progress through the various stages of a sleeping cycle. If you are in a bad posture and your throat muscles are relaxed, the result is often snoring.
Fragile Throat Muscles and Tongue
In some cases, your throat muscles might be weaker than usual. This will result in snoring whenever you are asleep, as they will not hold open enough for proper breathing while sleeping. On the other hand, the tongue muscle may be too weak to hold the tongue in place all night while you sleep. Sleeping on your back with your mouth open can have your tongue slide back into your throat, restricting the smooth flow of air.
Elongated Uvula and Soft Palate
The uvula and soft palate can be very long. This is often a genetic feature that cannot be controlled. However, the unusual length of these features can cause snoring.
This is where snoring becomes a cyclic process. Sleep deprivation can cause you to have increased chances of snoring because of increased fatigue. When you do snore, you can, in turn, get sleep deprivation continuing the vicious cycle.
Obese individuals have large amounts of fat deposited all over the body. When this fat is around your throat, your trachea is constricted. This constriction means air has to be forced through when you sleep and results in vibrations.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is the partial or sometimes complete blockage of your airways as you sleep. Snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, which can be fatal.
How to Prevent Snoring?
There are many guides on how to stop snoring, some of them require the assistance of a doctor while others can be implemented at home with no help at all. If you are a parent of a child that snores and want to know how to stop from snoring, understand the cause of this snoring, to begin with. It will ensure no problematic underlying causes go untreated.
What Snoring Remedies Can Treat Snoring?
To make it easier for you to find the best solution for snoring, I have categorized them into two different parts. They are the following:
- Home snoring remedies you can try immediately;
- Snoring remedies requiring professional assistance.
Home Snoring Remedies
There are several solutions for snoring that do not require you to leave the comfort of your home. If you cannot afford to see a specialist or would prefer to solve the problem fast, these remedies are worth trying.
Better Sleeping Posture
Avoid sleeping in awkward postures that put a lot of strain on your neck and throat. This will ensure that your throat is always free from unnatural obstruction and reduce the chances of snoring significantly. This involves keeping your neck relatively straight. Lying on the side while you sleep is another posture that can be an effective home remedy snoring solution as well. Yes, it is that easy, just flip over and lie on your side instead of sleeping on your back, and your problem will be solved.
Develop a Consistent Sleeping Pattern
Cultivating a healthy and consistent sleeping pattern is key to getting good sleep. This is also a remedy for insomnia. Good night sleep is sure to keep sleep deprivation at a safe distance away and ensure you do not sink into a vicious cycle of daytime drowsiness and insomnia. You can develop this by going to bed at the same time every day and waking up at the same time daily.
To help this process along, I recommend completely unplugging from using any mobile devices beyond a certain time leading up to your bedtime. This way, you ensure that your body’s natural sleeping mechanisms kick in uninterrupted.
Alcohol and Medication
I advise you to avoid alcohol at least two to three hours before going to sleep. This is meant to ensure that your body has processed the consumed alcohol by the time you fall asleep, and its effect on muscles is reduced. Lowering the muscle relaxation from alcohol consumption will minimize your chances of snoring.
Medication for sleeping and muscle relaxation such as laxatives should be avoided if possible. If it is prescribed medication, then you should live with the snoring until your dosage is complete. If you do take the said medication, ensure you do so a few hours before turning in.
Nasal Congestion Remedies
If you go to bed with a blocked nose or develop nasal congestion during the night, using nasal sprays to open your airways will prevent snoring. Most nasal sprays are safe to use frequently. They are also quite affordable compared to other medical options.
Use of Orthopedic Pillows
These are special pillows made to help you keep your airways open. The design ensures your jaw is positioned the right way for the least possible obstruction of your airways. Get yourself or your loved person who snores one.
If you are overweight or obese, consider shedding some weight. You can use a myriad of ways to do this, including working out and dieting or surgical procedure to reduce your weight and, in turn, lower your snoring.
What Are the Treatment Options for Snoring?
If the cause of your snoring is related to sleep apnea or a weak soft palate, and elongated uvula and other complications, seek medical advice. Seek the help of a specialist if you have an acute sleeping problem so that a doctor may assess the cause of your snoring.
This is done in one of two ways, monitoring you while you sleep and an MRI or other scans the doctor sees fit. The diagnosis for sleep apnea, for example, is done by monitoring your vitals during sleep. Once the cause is ascertained, one of the following remedies is prescribed:
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Appliance)
This is a device that continuously applies pressure through the air to keep your airways open while you sleep. CPAP is prescribed by a qualified doctor. This is a snoring aid designed specifically to apply pressure without interrupting your normal breathing patterns.
Use of a Snoring Mouthpiece
A snoring mouthpiece is one of many snoring aids that will ensure your jaw is always open properly to prevent blocking of your airways. Another function is to keep your tongue in the proper position. Some variations also keep your soft palate from closing your throat.
If your doctor advises it, there are several surgical procedures you can undergo to prevent snoring. One procedure of this kind involves the reduction of tissue in your throat in case they determine excess tissue causes your snoring. These procedures are only minimally intrusive and will not affect the quality of life after them. They are a permanent solution for snoring related to excess or enlarged tissue.
The Pillar Insertion Surgery
This is a solution for snoring due to the weak throat muscles of soft palate tissue and is the cure for sleep apnea. The procedure draws its name from the pillars inserted into the tissue to stiffen it. The pillars are made of Dacron which is also used to make sutures. A doctor will insert a number of these pillars in your throat to ensure it stays open while you sleep.
There are other marketed potential solutions for snoring while you sleep that remain largely untested. One example is an anti snore wristband that uses electronic acupuncture and stimulates your nerves to prevent snoring.
Understanding Snoring for Better Sleep
Now, you know everything there is about snoring, its potential causes, and solutions. It is easy to see that it is not a conscious occurrence and to some degree, snoring is beyond your control. I have seen these solutions work, especially those you can apply at home.
So, to get better sleep, ensure that you sleep in a good position, use a snore aid and comfortable pillow. All these factors add up to the overall quality of your sleep. Have you tried any of these remedies? Do you know any new treatments that are not listed in this article? Did you have success dealing with your snoring? I would love to know your thoughts on the subject, and please let me know in the comment section below.