What is Snoring?
Snoring is not the sound you make when you breathe through
your nose and mouth while you are asleep. It happens when air doesn’t
move smoothly through your air passages making the soft tissue in the
Therefore, it’s actually an obstruction in you air passages.
The Sounds of Snoring
The sound of snoring comes from the
uvula, the back of the tongue and the other soft tissues of the throat
flapping as air passes over them when you breathe during sleep. It’s
very much like the sound a flag makes when it waves in the wind. This
can happen even when the tissues are normal size because when you fall
asleep the muscles in the throat, soft palate and uvula relax.
Airway blockage is the root cause of all snoring
problems. When you snore, your airway is partially blocked by the soft
tissues in the back of the throat, b the back of the tongue and by the
soft palate and uvula. This causes a decrease of air flow to the lungs. A
decrease in air flow causes a lack of oxygen to the brain.
According to statistics, at least 30%
of adults snore on a regular basis and up to 50% snore occasionally. Men
snore more than women, however women do snore! Snoring increases with
old age and changes in weight. Allergies, asthma, colds and sinus
infections increase the risk of snoring.
Drinking an alcholic beverage before you go to sleep, being
overweight, smoking or overeating all can make the problem worse as can
some medications like muscle relaxers. In some people simply sleeping on
their back can cause snoring.
Snoring affects everyone…
* If you are kept awake night after night by a bed partner’s
snoring, you are not getting the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation can
lead to irritability, muddled thinking, illness, poor performance at
work and drowsy driving.
* Many people are so disturbed by their partner’s snoring that they
sleep in a seperate room. A recent study pointed out that 80% of snoring
couples slept apart.
* The effect of the noise on a sleeping partner of a snorer can
raise blood pressure in direct relation to the intensity of the noise.
High blood pressure is a known risk factor for stroke, heart disease,
kidney disease and dementia.
Medical problems associated with snoring
* Repeated deprivation of oxygen to the brain can cause high blood
pressure which can damage the carotid arteries on each side of the neck.
The carotid arteries carry oxygen to the brain. The damage can lead to
the development of cholesterol and calcium containg plaque which further
restricts blood flow to the brain and can lead to stroke.
* A report from the University of California School of Dentistry
found that 21% of men who snore had hardened blockages in their carotid
* Obstructive Sleep Apnea
* And now a new study has shown that loud snoring itself can have
devastating consequences. An article published in March, 2008* stated
that loud snorers had 40% greater odds of having hypertension, 34 %
greater odds of having a heart attack and 67 % greater odds of having a
stroke than people who did not snore.
So what can you do about snoring…
* Avoid sleeping on your back
* Raise the head of the bed 4 inches or so or add an extra pillow
* Lose weight
* Avoid drinking alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime. Do not take a drink to help you fall asleep
* Stop smoking
* Avoid medications that relax the muscles (if possible)
* Don’t eat a heavy meal within three hours of bedtime
* Ask your bed partner to wake you if you snore
* Exercise to improve your physical condition
* Try nasal strips or nasal dilators to keep the nostrils open
* Ask your dentist about your snore problem and a stop snoring
mouthpiece called an oral appliance to help stop snoring and control
* If the problem is really severe and/or if you stop breating during sleep get checked by a sleep physician.
*American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, March 1). Snoring Linked
To Cardiovascular Disease, Increased Health-care Utilization.