Should you be worried about your annoying snoring habit?
Snoring, it’s that sleep habit you might not know you have, but might be interfering with your partner’s sleep or be affecting your health. When’s the last time someone said they actually enjoy the sound of snoring? What’s snoring besides an obnoxious sound? How does it happen and how can it be prevented?
The definition of snoring
While you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward and your throat becomes narrow and “floppy.” As you breathe, the walls of your throat begin to vibrate – generally when you breathe in, but (to a lesser extent) when you breathe out. These vibrations lead to the characteristic sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder you snore. Sometimes the walls of your throat may collapse completely so that it’s completely blocked, creating a condition called apnea (cessation of breathing). This is a serious condition which requires medical attention. Read More: National Sleep Foundation.
Are you an at-risk-snorer?
- Are you a male? There’s nothing you can do about this one but it’s true that men snore more than women. More than 40% of men and 24% of women snore, according to The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Don’t think if you’re a woman you’re in the clear, though: another theory is that that men sleep more heavily than women and/or are less sensitive to being woken to the noise – another reason not to discount the possibility of snoring if you’re a woman.
- Are you overweight? Obesity may cause or exacerbate snoring in a number of ways. The most obvious is that the extra weight you’re carrying presses on the lungs and upper airway during sleep, causing breathing to be more difficult. But it’s also possible hormones, which can collect in fatty deposits and accumulate to higher than normal levels, may play a part.
- Are you tired during the day? A classic sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is tiredness during the day with no obvious explained cause. A patient with OSA will experience non-breathing events during the night. These stressful non-breathing events occur when your breathing is abnormally shallow or a very low respiratory rate, which is normally during sleep. If it sounds scary, that’s because it is – OSA comes with its own associated set of risks (including high blood pressure and heart disease). DO NOT wait to see a doctor if you suspect OSA.
How to fix your snoring problem
- Maintain a healthy weight and diet. Being overweight by just a few pounds can lead to snoring. Fatty tissue around your neck squeezes the airway and prevents air from flowing in and out freely.
- Try to sleep on your side rather than your back. While sleeping on your back, your tongue, chin and any excess fatty tissue under your chin can relax and squash your airway. If sleeping on your side feels unnatural, sew some tennis balls into your nightshirt to help train you while you sleep.
- Keep your nasal passages clear. Make it easier to breathe in through your nose rather than your mouth. If an allergy is blocking your nose, try antihistamine tablets or a nasal spray. Ask your pharmacist for advice, or see your GP, if you’re affected by an allergy or any other condition that affects your nose or breathing, such as sinusitis.
While these are simple and inexpensive ways to aid that terrible habit, remember that snoring can be a sign of a variety of health problems – some of them life-threatening. Sleep Apnea being just one. If you think that you may have signs of this sleep disorder – or any other medical condition – it’s imperative to contact a medical professional.