Loud snoring, gentle snoring, and just any kind of snoring does not sound pretty at all; but why do you snore? Is there any way to fix it? Well, we are about to divulge some snoring solutions in this article. Well, I know you want earplugs when you hear someone snore around you. But have you ever wondered what causes it? It is caused by vibrations that impact the particles in the air to make sound waves. Our vocal chords vibrate when we speak and this forms our voice. When our stomach growls known as (borborygmus), our stomach and intestines vibrate as the air and food move through them. While we sleep, the turbulent airflow puts pressure on the tissues of the palate (roof of the mouth) and throat giving way to vibration which in turn gives way to snoring.
Do you snore? Well, we all have been guilty of that at some point in our lives. Even people who have never snored before can snore especially, after some kind of illness, say a viral illness, after drinking alcohol or taking a few specific medications.
Let’s bust this myth once and for all, it’s not that only obese people snore. People who have had a thick neck are usually said to snore. But even thin people can start snoring. Of course, obesity has a role to play and age too! But it may not prove to be the only outstanding factor.
When we breathe, the air flows in and out in a continuous stream between our nose or mouth and our lungs. We make lesser sounds when we sit quietly in a corner and breathe quietly. When we exercise, the air moves in more quickly and makes a sound as we move. This happens because air continuously moves in and out of the nose and mouth quickly, and this adds more turbulence to the airflow and the tissues in the nose and mouth continue to vibrate.
When we are asleep, the area in the back region of our throat narrows as the muscles relax, and then closes off for some time. Now, when this air passes through the smaller opening more rapidly it can causes vibration in the tissues surrounding the opening, which leads to sounds of snoring. The narrowing happens because of a number of reasons, the reasons differ from person to person. The narrowing happens either in the nose or mouth or throat. Palatal snoring is much worse when a person has to breathe through his/her mouth as there is a nasal obstruction.
When we are at rest, we breathe through our nose. The nose plays multiple roles, it acts as a heater, humidifier, and also a filter for the incoming air. When we breathe through our mouth, it does not prove to be an able substitute for our nose and the modifications happen to a lesser extent. Our lungs now have to use the colder, drier, dirtier air; but it does affect your breathing and makes you uncomfortable. Therefore, our bodies prefer breathing through the nose.
The nose has two parallel called nasal cavities. These two cavities are separated by a thin wall (the septum), which is made up of cartilage, bone, and lining tissue (known as, nasal mucosa). On the wall of the nose that is closer to the cheeks of each passage, you’ll find three nasal turbinates, typically long, cylindrical-shaped structures that are parallel to the floor of the nose. There are tiny blood vessels in the turbinates that helps regulate airflow. Now, if the blood vessels in the turbinates increase in size, the turbinate swells up there is a reduction in the air flow. If the vessels become narrower, the turbinates become smaller and there is an increase in airflow.
Now, everyone has a natural nasal cycle, and there is a shift in the side that is taking the maximum burden of breathing every 2 to 6 hours. Confused still? Let’s see an example, suppose the right nasal turbinates are swollen, the maximum percentage of air enters the left nasal passage. After the stipulated time of 6 hours, the right nasal turbinates downsize, and the left nasal turbinates start swelling and the breathing burden is now shifted to the right nasal passage. Well, you won’t notice this just like that, it’s only when you have a cold or a stuffy nose that you’ll notice this shift breathing. There are other reasons that the turbinates swell up, and those are from allergic reactions, cold air or dirt.
Ideally, we would like to breathe through our noses, but some people find breathing through their noses difficult as there is a blockage in their nasal passages. This generally happens because there is a deviation of the nasal septum, owing to sinus infections, allergies, swelling of the turbinates, or the large adenoids. Adenoids are nothing but tonsils you find at the back of the throat.
In adults, nasal obstruction usually results from septal deviations that happen because of a broken nose or a swelling in the tissue from allergies. In children too, you’ll find enlarged adenoids to be the primary cause of obstruction. So, basically, people who experience a blockage in their noses are called mouth breathers. And when they breathe through their mouth they snore, as the airflow in the mouth causes more vibration in the tissues.
The soft palate is a muscular extension of the hard palate (bony roof of the mouth). It acts as a barrier to the back of the mouth (oropharynx) and the nasal passages (nasopharynx). The soft palate is particularly useful for breathing and swallowing.
When you breathe through the nostrils, the palate moves ahead and opens the nasal airway so that the air passes right into the lungs.
When you swallow, the palate moves backward and closes the nasal passages. The palate directs the movement of the food and liquid down the esophagus instead of the back of the nose. The uvula or the small extension at the back of the soft palate helps in the functioning of the soft palate. The soft palate is what provides snoring relief. When there is an obstruction in the airway, the breathing coerces the uvula, the back of the tongue, and the soft palate to vibrate loudly. When you stiffen the soft palate, it reduces the vibration and therefore minimizes the snoring intensity in as little time as 20 minutes.
The tonsils usually help fight infections. You’ll find them at the back of the mouth on either side of the throat (oropharynx). They are also known as palatine tonsils. So, in this case, the tonsils swell up while they combat the bacteria and viruses. Sometimes, the tonsils do not return to the normal size even when the infection is gone. They remain in an enlarged condition, hypertrophied in other words and it causes the airway to vibrate, which results in snoring.
The soft palate, if it is too long, can lead to vibrations and cause snoring. An unusually long uvula can also lead to snoring. The base of the tongue is located far back in the mouth. If the back of the tongue is too large or if the tongue slips backward, it narrows the space down, in which air flows in the pharynx, leading to vibrations and more snoring.
Sleep can be divided into two stages, the REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM stages. Snoring either occurs through all the stages or only some stages of sleep. You are more likely to experience snoring in REM sleep and during deep sleep or what is known as non-REM Stage 3 sleep.
During REM sleep, the brain sends signals to the muscles of the body, apart from the breathing muscles, to relax. But, the tongue, palate, and throat collapse when they relax. This narrows down the airway worsening the snoring.
Usually, we lie down while we sleep. Gravity impacts all the tissues of the body, but the tissues of the pharynx are comparatively softer and floppier. Gravity then enables pulls the tonsils, palate, and tongue backward. This narrows the airway, causing turbulence in tissue vibration, airflow, and snoring. Sometimes, when the snorer is gently pushed and prodded to roll onto one side, the tissues are not pulled backward, and the snoring minimizes or stops for the time being.
The vibration of the tissues while breathing is the chief cause of snoring. So, when you are on certain medications it can lead to enhanced relaxation of muscles during sleep. When the muscles in the palate, neck, tongue, and pharynx are more relaxed, there are greater chances of the airway to collapse more, finally leading to a smaller airway and more vibration in the tissue membranes. Medications that cause deep sleep are responsible for making snoring worse.
Snoring sometimes just scratches the surface level, there may be an underlying problem that leads to snoring. Sleep apnea and other sleeping problems are some of the reasons of snoring in adults.
If the snorer has no problem while breathing, then the snoring problem isn’t really a big deal, except of course it may disturb your family members or partners. Snoring hardly affects the snorer, it affects the others around you. That is the only reason you should get help with snoring. So sometimes the snoring becomes more of a social problem than a medical issue.
Yes, you have been snoring lately and your partner or family members have also complained about it, so should you seek a doctor’s advice? Sometimes you do need a doctors advice to treat the underlying cause. Especially when you are snorting and your breathing stops for a few moments (sleep apnea). Before you get all worried, see if a few home remedies for snoring can fix the problem once and for all. Check out the 15 remedies here.
I know, I know, it all gets down to that one thing, weight loss, but why is weight loss important? It reduces the amount of tissue that may lead to snoring. Weight loss isn’t that difficult if you put your mind to it. Just reduce your overall caloric intake and eat smaller portions, make healthier choices. Of course, you need to exercise daily. Get a nutritionist on board if you are unable to get things on point, like the diet and exercise bit.
When you sleep on your back, your tongue rolls to the back of the throat, which blocks the airflow through your throat. If you sleep on one side, you allow the air to flow easily and this is one of the best ways to stop snoring.
Elevate your head just by four inches, it can curb your snoring and keep the airways open.
Simple snoring devices such as stick-on nasal strips are great options to try, as they are anti-snoring. They are clipped to the bridge of the nose and this increases the space in the nasal passage. So, this helps you breathe easy and minimizes snoring.
A nasal dilator is one of the best stop snoring aids to combat snoring issues, You apply the adhesive strip across your nostrils. This decreases the airflow resistance, enabling you to breathe easily.
Allergies can reduce air passage through your nose, which forces you to breathe through the mouth. This increases your chances of snoring. Seek advice from your doctor and get over-the-counter medicines to improve the condition.
Some people are born with it and some get it because of an injury, I am speaking of a deviated septum. In this case, the wall separates both sides of the nose, restricting airflow. So, you are forced to breathe through your mouth, leading to snoring. Sometimes, you may require a surgery to fix the problem. Talk it out with your doctor to correct it.
If you snore and are on sedatives, you need to explore your options and discuss with your doctor to explore more options. This may help combat snoring.
Try and abstain from alcohol at least two hours before you sleep. Alcohol makes your throat muscles lax, leading to snoring.
Here comes the nth reason to stop smoking, smoking makes snoring worse. Discuss with your doctor how can you stop smoking, use remedies such as gum or patches that will help you quit.
Yes, we know you are too busy to sleep, but seven to eight hours of sleep is mandatory every night. Modern lifestyles are more about doing more in lesser time, hence we sacrifice all that is good for our health and sleep is probably the first sacrificial lamb. Get back on track to your health and wellness by getting more sleep.
There are some dental mouthpieces known as ‘oral appliances’ that open up the air passages, helping you breathe easy. This stops snoring. Your dentist can help you with those, discuss with him/her.
A pressurized air mask or a CPAP device can help you sleep and keep the airway open. The CPAP equipment is particularly useful in treating obstructive sleep apnea.
The ‘pillar procedure’ is a treatment where braided strands of the polyester filament are injected into your mouth’s soft palate. This stiffens up to reduce snoring.
This is a type of surgery and it tightens throat tissue and helps stop or reduce snoring. Laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (LA-UPPP), is a better option than UPPP, as it is more effective and more easily available.
This is a recent treatment where low-intensity radio waves help shrink the tissue on your soft palate enabling sound sleep minus snoring.
Injection snoreplasty is a safe and effective method to combat soft-palate induced snoring. So, in this procedure, a chemical is injected into the soft palate. This breaks down the tissue, reducing the size. This is a safe option as it is less invasive than the other procedures.
Septoplasty is a type of surgery that corrects the septum. A deviated septum affects the passage of air through your nose and causes snoring.
Is it just snoring or sleep apnea? The following symptoms will provide a clue:
Well, if you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, you need to get it treated as sleep apnea is a serious condition and needs prompt medical attention as it leads to more health complications such as heart diseases and other conditions. Snoring shouldn’t be a way of life for anyone, just be mindful of the symptoms and treat it accordingly with the remedies listed above.
Deblina Biswas has an M.Sc degree in Nutrition from the University of Osmania and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She loves everything about food and fitness and the fact that she has been able to follow her heart when it comes to her profession. When she is not working, she likes to rustle up delectable concoctions in the kitchen, of course keeping the health quotient intact. She says, everyone just loves her healthy biryani she makes for special occasions. She believes that most ailments can be cured with the right amalgamation of nutrition and fitness.