Snoring is a condition affecting many people out there, and for the most part, it is indeed benign. It can give way to more serious sleep problems down the line though, and as such, it can be considered an early warning that not everything is right in dream-land.
Let us take a closer look at its causes and possible methods of control.
What can cause you to start snoring?
The cause of snoring is obviously mechanical: the muscles in the throat of the snorer relax so much during sleep, that the tissue collapses, partially blocking the airways.
When the air does rush through the thusly restricted passage, the loose, collapsed tissue begins vibrating, and thus snoring results. The more severely restricted the snorer’s airway is, the louder the snoring will become.
The intensity of snoring and with it, the depth of the problem, is defined by several factors.
The mouth anatomy of the snorer is one obvious such factor. Those who have long, thin, soft palates, are much more likely to develop snoring problems than those who don’t.
Sleep deprivation is always an issue with sleep disorders and snoring is not an exception either: it can lead to the “exaggerated” relaxation of throat tissue, and thus, indeed, to snoring.
Alcohol consumption is a major problem for proper, healthy sleep, for a myriad of reasons. It too relaxes throat muscles, leading to snoring, in addition to which, it also lowers the natural reflexes of the body that are meant to cope with the obstruction of the airways.
It is quite obvious to everyone that sleeping position is also a major issue snoring-wise. Those sleeping on their backs are much more frequent and loud snorers than those sleeping on their sides.
How I can stop my snoring?
As I already stated above, in and of itself, snoring is a relatively benign condition. It may be annoying to the people who sleep in the same room with the “perpetrator,” but the negative health impact of snoring is relatively limited.
Still, getting rid of even this minor inconvenience is something many are indeed rather keen on.
The good news is that there are a whole series of quick, and easy-to-implement measures one can take to curb snoring.
Here’s a quick look at them.
Sleeping position is perhaps the easiest variable to tinker with. Simply not sleeping on your back anymore should help a great deal with your snoring. In this regard, some people resort to solutions such as taping a tennis ball to the back of their pajamas, so sleeping flat on their backs is no longer an option for them.
Avoiding alcohol is a rather simple fix as well and it hardly needs to be detailed why it is generally a good idea as well.
Losing weight is another possible path to snoring-free nights. The problem with this approach is that it might not work for everyone. After all, thin people snore too, and there’s not much point in trying to lose still more weight for them.
Opening the nasal passages is always a good solution though, as is the practicing of good sleep hygiene.
Why do people all of a sudden start snoring?
Snoring – like most other sleep-related disorders – gets worse with age. There is simply no way around this truth.
If you are a man, you are more prone to snoring to begin with. As you get older (and presumably pack on weight), your snoring will indeed go from bad to worse. In the case of males, a lot of the age-related weight gain happens around the neck. Increasing the circumference of the neck will obviously expose one to snoring and other sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
With age, in addition to the problems listed above, muscle tone decreases as well, meaning that the tissue in one’s throat collapses easier and that snoring becomes louder, more frequent and it may indeed show up in people who never snored before.
While the actual treatment of snoring is always an option – as said above – I have mixed feelings in this regard.
Snoring is a sort of alarm bell for other – more serious – sleep problems (like sleep apnea). Simply turning this alarm bell off may therefore not be helpful in the long-run.
The best course of treatment for snoring is one that takes aim at underlying issues, and is therefore much more than a symptomatic treatment.
Is snoring bad for my health?
As already said, in and of itself, snoring is not bad for your health. It is at most extremely annoying to those who share a room with you while you sleep.
The problem with it is though that it is a sort of alarm, which heralds a wide range of other potential sleep disorders, some of which may indeed be rather dangerous.
Still, despite its relatively harmless nature, snoring does in fact carry a few health risks. The most important risk of snoring is linked to sleep apnea, and the multitude of health problems it entails.
Interruptions in breathing are obviously included in this dubious package, as is the oxygen deprivation of the brain. Waking up from the your sleep frequently will lead to poor overall sleep quality, and poor night’s sleep, which over the long-run can trigger other issues.
Getting frequently roused during a night will also interfere with one’s sleep patterns, resulting in a lot of light sleeping and little deep-sleep, of the kind that is needed for the proper replenishment of the body’s hormonal and energy resources.
All the above creates an overall strain on the heart too, upping the risk of heart disease, stroke and elevating one’s blood pressure.
Can you die from snoring?
The answer to that question can be very simple or more complex. While you will almost certainly not die from a snoring episode, snoring is in fact indicative of deeper sleep-related problems down the line and one of these problems is sleep apnea. Unlike a simple (but noisy) snoring episode, sleep apnea can indeed lead to death under certain circumstances.
The health risks associated with this snoring-related condition are numerous indeed. They include stroke, heart disease, daytime sleepiness, arythmias and even GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) sufferers are more prone to physical injuries too, on account of their increased daytime sleepiness and the resulting inability to properly focus when needed. Indeed, OSA sufferers are much more likely to cause deadly vehicle accidents than their healthy peers.
Nocturia, headaches and mental health issues are also among the “blessings” that sleep apnea delivers, and it all starts with a little bit of snoring.
While snoring itself is no biggie, just remember that its mechanics are largely the same as those of sleep apnea. As a regular snorer, you are in essence a beginner sleep apnea sufferer.
If you decide to treat your snoring, make sure you treat the underlying causes that provoked it to begin with, rather than just its symptoms.
Do mouthpieces really work to stop snoring?
In addition to the snoring-control measures and solutions I detailed above, those truly bothered by the condition can resort to yet another anti-snoring aid: oral devices.
These oral devices usually take the form of mouth guards, designed by dentists and other specialists, with the express purpose of controlling the architecture of the wearer’s mouth during sleep. As such, devices like these can indeed effectively stop the collapse of the wearer’s throat tissue, thus eliminating snoring and the problems associated with it.
Also known as mandibular advancement devices, these mouth guard-like inserts effectively prevent the wearer’s tongue from slipping backward during sleep, while preventing the jaw from relaxing as well.
Certainly, most such devices are not the least bit comfortable, but many do indeed gain much-needed snoring (and what’s perhaps way more important: OSA) relief from them.
Such devices push the jaw forward a little, thus opening up the airways, they support soft palate tissue and they depress the tongue to keep it from sliding backward – as said above.
If you are considering such a device for snoring relief, please be aware of the fact that you will have to have it fitted by a dentist. Also know that there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the FDA-status of most of these oral devices.
Can you get surgery to stop snoring?
Indeed, you can. The particular surgery that you’re looking for to secure relief from snoring, is called somnoplasty and it uses heat to induce changes in the tissues of the uvula and the soft palate. Through this procedure, the tissues of the above said organs are either strengthened, or they are removed. Despite its seemingly intrusive nature, somnoplasty is a procedure which is performed in-office, under local anesthesia (your doctor will not put you under for it, and as such, it is indeed a very safe procedure).
Unfortunately, despite somnoplasty’s efficiency in curbing snoring, it cannot be used for the treatment of sleep apnea. The heat generated through the somnoplasty procedure is obtained from low-level radiofrequency, rather than lasers (as with some of the other such surgeries). Its goal is to effectively generate localized burn areas right under the mucous layer, which are then reabsorbed by the body, stiffening the areas where this absorption occurs.
As any surgery, somnoplasty carries its own potential risks and complications. Sometimes it does not accomplish its goals (failing to eliminate snoring). It may also result in a change of voice in the patient, as well as nasal regurgitation, bleeding, pain and impaired healing.
Somnoplasty usually only takes about 30 minutes to perform.