Have you ever had a sleeping partner that snored so loudly you couldn’t sleep? Or maybe you’ve been told how badly you disturb your neighborhood with your snoring while enjoying your night’s sleep. Well, if you know anyone that snores or you want a better sleep, you’ll want to get more information on how to help him or her control this dreadful sleep habit.
Once while still in college, I visited my uncle whom I’d not seen in years, my first observation was that he has added enormous weight since the last time I saw him. At the beginning of my stay, I enjoyed my time with his family. But one thing that put me off was his loud snoring.
His room was few meters from the study and I couldn’t read at night. Night after night, instead of studying, I would be awake listening to his hoarse snoring which sounded like an old motorcycle.
Months later I had to secure an apartment, his snoring almost contributed to a bad CGPA score. I was surprised at the fact that his wife and 3 kids could cope with his snoring. I bet they were afraid to tell him, sometimes he can be a very sensitive person. It was clear they had to ignore him. I couldn’t just close my ears to the sounds he made during snoring which could sometimes be soft, but other times be so loud, spiteful and could constitute serious nuisance.
Snoring happens when there is an obstruction of air movement through your wind pipes as you sleep. These hoarse and annoying sounds are as a direct result of vibrations of your respiratory structures.
Anatomically, you are prone to snoring if your throat and nasal tissues are too thick or floppy. Consequently, air can’t move freely through your wind pipes. Usually, the vibration is not too distressing to absolutely stop your sleep. Normally, you’re less likely to be aware of your snoring habits while you’re sleeping.
Snoring is not a life threatening phenomenon, which means you’re less likely to die as a result. But it hurts your own sleep quality and can actually be a sign of a medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea on the other hand is a potentially severe sleep disorder. If you’re a sufferer of this condition, your breathing could seize repeatedly and start again during sleep.
That brings us to the next mind boggling question.
If you snore once in a blue moon maybe due to extreme stress or you get wasted on alcohol once in a while, snoring might not really be a problem for you. But for habitual snorers, snoring can be classified as a sleep disorder which could be an indication for a more serious health problem, for example obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a spectrum of several other problems like long pauses of breathing (usually up to10 seconds) while asleep caused by incomplete or total obstruction or blockage of the airway.
This all results in poor sleep which is untreated could lead to serious life-shortening consequences for hypertension, diabetes, depression, coronary heart disease, stroke, road traffic accident as a result of falling asleep while driving, and even poor concentration at work.
WHAT IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF SNORING?
Agreeing with Siamak N. Nabili’s statement ‘snoring is exaggerated by the stage of sleep, sleeping position, and the use of medications and alcohol.’
Your nocturnal rumblings as explained earlier can be caused by vibrating tissues surrounding the airways of your nose and throat. The tremors that cause snoring are initiated by windy airflow through narrowed airways that are probably dried up due to exposure to dry air inhaled from the environment. Normally, the moisture in your nose helps to heat up and humidify the air that gets into your body.
According to bio Teacher ‘this action increases the amount of water vapor the air entering your lungs contains’. However, this helps to keep the air entering your nose from drying out your lungs and other parts of our respiratory system while you’re asleep.
While sleeping with your mouth open, dry air entering the wind pipes is devoid of moisture which further irritates the wind pipes and further worsening the coarseness of the sounds that comes out when you snore.
HERE ARE THE KNOWN CAUSES OF SNORING
- Age; as you advance in age certain structures on your body begin to shrink e.g. is your throat and its musculature also reduces. Certainly, there isn’t much you can do about grow old but lifestyle changes can help.
- Alcohol and drug use; excessive intake of alcohol or over indulgence in muscle relaxant medications or substances for example tranquilizers such as lorazepam or diazepam can dilate the muscle in your tongue and throat.
- Being weighty or completely out of shape. Excessive fatty tissue and poorer muscle tone contribute to snoring.
- Blocked nasal airways: this could be caused by allergic reaction like drug, food, Insect, mold, pet, pollen, allergy etc.
- Feeble muscle tones in your throat and tongue; these muscles can be too relaxed which cause them to collapse into your airway.
- Glitches in your nose; for example a deviated septum (this happens when the wall that separates one nostril from the other is off-center)
- Hereditary; if you’re born with a narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes. This may contribute to snoring.
- Kids may have unusually large tonsils and adenoids that can occlude the airway making them to snore.
- Long soft palate and/or uvula;this hanging tissue in the back of your mouth may narrow the opening from your nose to your oesophagus. During inspiration and exhalation, this causes them to shake and collide against each other therefore reducing the diameter of your airway.
- Nasal and sinus problems. Blocked wind pipes or a stuffy nose make taking in air difficult and can create a space in the throat, making you to snore.
- Polyps may also cause snoring by blocking your airways.
- Poor sleep; this can also contribute to brain fatigue and poor muscle tone in your throat, therefore, allowing the tongue to fall while you’re asleep.
- Sex: anatomically, a man’s wind pipe is narrower than women. Therefore, men are more likely to snore more.
- Sinus infection.
- Sleep posture;sleeping in a supine position (lying face upwards) flat on your back may cause the muscle of your throat to relax and block the airway.
- Thick throat tissue; this is common if you’re
Pregnancy; snoring usually occurs towards the second and third trimester when the fundus is high up the chest and other physiological changes which further narrows the airways.
WHAT STAGE OF SLEEP DO YOU SNORE?
Experts believe that, as you sleep, your body passes through four stages: 1, 2, 3, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. These stages progress at regular intervals from 1 through REM then begin again with stage 1.
Episodes of alertness occur intermittently throughout the various sleep stages or as you change sleeping position. Wakefulness is the period when your brain wave activity is at its highest; at this point your muscle tone is still active.
Naturally, a complete sleep cycle may take an average of 90 to 110 minutes in adults. At least: every stage lasting between 5 and 15 minutes. The initial cycles each night have relatively brief REM sleeps and extended periods of deep sleep; but as the night progresses, REM stages lengthen and deep sleep time declines.
During REM sleep, muscles of your body are completely relaxed, even though some people may still be tensed. According to Sharon J. Borrow Sleep Laboratory Scientist at St George’s Hospital London, as a conventional snorer who does not experience sleep apnoea, you’re more likely to snore during stages 3 and 4 sleep, while Stages 1 and 2 are other possible times your snoring may occur.
IS SNORING GENETIC?
Yes! Turns out a gene that’s causing your snoring might be hiding in your DNA. A genetic cause of snoring even without a diagnosed sleep apnoea runs in families. According to The National Sleep Foundation website, two genetic markers found in the blood have been identified as having a strong positive correlation to snoring. Consequently, if your grandfather had a merit award in snoring, you’re probably yet to unleash your snoring potentials as, these markers suggest that snoring isn’t going anywhere without your family anytime soon.
CAN STRESS CAUSE SNORING?
Yes, if you’re experiencing stressors from work, family or society, whatever your source of stress might be. It’s possible you’re already undergoing a full-blown stress. This may aggravate to nervousness and definitely contribute to your sleeping problems or even make existing problems worse.
When it feels like life is overwhelming and you are worrying excessively, you are more likely to clench your jaw and gnash your teeth in reaction to your stress instead of relaxing and letting your brain go to sleep.
The gnashing action does not only wear off the surface of your teeth, it also tenses your jaw and throat muscles which further constrict your airway, increases muscle tension and misalignment of the teeth.
All these can put a considerable amount of stress on the jaw joints and cause pain, yet grinding the teeth at night forces the tongue to roll back into the throat and narrow the airway during sleep. This can result in snoring as well as sleep disruption.
As you are aware, snoring is more in people with narrow airways. This would stimulate or worsen the vibrations which make your snores hoarse and irritating.
Secondly, stress predisposes you to anxiety and depression. Certain medication your psychiatrist may prescribe for you could worsen your snoring, for example antidepressants.
CAN YOU DIE FROM SNORING?
No! On its own, snoring isn’t life threatening. Even though, a progressive snore may result in sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea could cause heart fatigue. In combination with other predisposing factors like stress which destroys your blood vessels, your heart and indeed the whole circulatory system can malfunction.
Without proper treatment, a combination of all these factors can lead to serious cardiovascular disease, like coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and eventually death.
DOES SLEEPING ON STOMACH STOP SNORING?
Without any dillydally, the apt answer is “yes.” Even though taking a nap on your stomach can decrease snoring and diminish your sleep apnea by preventing the tongue from falling into your throat, mind you, it’s strenuous for your vertebral column and neck. Lying in this posture can provoke a gastric reflux. Just in case you’re pregnant, you need to observe extra precautions and experimentation with your sleeping position and avoid sleeping on your stomach if you can.
CAN YOU SNORE WITH YOUR MOUTH CLOSED? HOW TO KNOW THE KIND OF SNORER YOU ARE
This might sound like an episode while playing the ‘truth or dare’ game. To actually discover what kind of snorer you are, you may be required by your sleep therapist to undertake a mouth or nostril test. To do this, create a moment of privacy away from people who might actually think you’ve lost it, ‘open your mouth and simulate a snoring noise. Then, close your mouth and repeat the same noise.
Consequently, If you can only snore with your mouth open, then it’s clear you are a ‘mouth breather’, even though there is a school of thought that believes that mouth-breathers may not be getting adequate oxygen required to function optimally, you’ll probably need to devise a means of keeping your mouth closed while sleeping.
On the contrary, your snoring may be coming from your nose and involves snorting and wheezing. One way to find out is by carrying out the nostril test. Just like the mouth test Look in a mirror, press on one side of your nostril with your finger. Then with your mouth closed, breathe in through your other nostril.
Doing this the right way would help you identify a weak nostril which would definitely collapse during the procedure. While doing this, make a snoring sound and also listen up for sounds of congestion.
Ensure you repeat this for the other nostril. Consequently, if your snoring emanates from your nose, you could stop smoking if you smoke, because this contributes to nasal congestion which would invariably worsen your snoring.
WHAT EXERCISES STOP SNORING?
- Close your mouth and squeeze your lips. Maintain the hold for 30 seconds.
- Put the hill of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Slip your tongue backwards for three minutes a day.
- Repeat each vowel (a-e-i-o-u) out loud for three minutes a few times a day.
- Singing can also improve your muscle control in the throat and soft palate, reducing snoring caused by lax muscles.
- While your mouth is open, squeeze the muscle at the back of your throat continually for 30 seconds. Hint: observe your uvula (“the hanging ball”) in the mirror to see if it moves up and down. With your mouth open, move your jaw side to side hold for 30 seconds each.
HOW DO YOU STOP SNORING?
Awesome tips to prevent snoring
- Check your BMI, if you fall in the overweight category, lose weight.
- Eat better.
- Get enough sleep.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and sedatives. These things dilate you muscles including your airway muscles.
- Nasal strips or an external nasal dilator- this helps to keep your air ways open.
- Quit smoking.
- Raise the head of your bed- raising the head for about 4inches (10.16 cm) may improve breathing.
- Sleep on your side not on your back.
- Stay hydrated.
- Treat nasal congestion or obstruction.