Commonness of Snoring
Snoring is very common. About 20% of adults snore when they sleep. Snoring becomes considerably more common with age. About 60% of men and 40% of women over 60 snores.
Snoring, how loud?
Snoring can reach a volume of up to 70 decibels. However snoring is more than just an irritating sound. Snoring can also be a health risk.
What causes snoring?
The sound made during snoring is occurs when the person who is sleeping breathes through an open mouth and the air vibrates as the person breathes.
Reasons for inhaling through the mouth:
- Breathing through the nose is hindered for example by a cold, enlarged tonsils or displacement of the nasal cartilage.
- During sleep the cheek muscles slacken which causes the lower jaw to sag.
- Whilst we are sleeping, all our muscles slacken. Even the muscles in the throat and the pharynx. As a result the tongue or the soft palate can block the respiratory tracts. The person sleeping breathes through the mouth in order to be able to get air.
Inhaling through the mouth leads to snoring
The narrowing or the closure of the respiratory tracts causes the soft palate, the uvula, and the walls of the throat or the roof of the larynx to vibrate during the breathing airflow. This is what causes the typical snoring sounds.
Risks of Snoring
Snoring is usually harmless and only irritating for those nearby. However, the wind-pipes in certain people become completely blocked which causes breathing pauses. The person who is sleeping does not getting any air for a certain period of time. This wakens him/her and causes considerable disturbances in his/her sleep. Extremely loud and irregular snoring can be an indication that breathing pauses occur during sleep (obstructive sleep apnoea). Sleep apnoea is a potentially life-threatening illness which occurs in 5% of the population and particularly with overweight, middle-aged men. As breathing is disrupted during sleep when one has sleep apnoea, most patients do not get enough oxygen and therefore are unable to sleep well. This causes weariness during the day, concentration problems and it seriously affects the cardiovascular system.
- Changing the sleep position: Do not sleep on the back! Keep the head up or sleep on the side!
- With slackening of the cheek muscles:
A so called snoring strip, which is strapped around the chin and the head, prevents the lowering of the lower jaw.
- If one cannot breathe through the nose:
Medication or operations (tonsil or adenoid removal) can improve breathing through the nose.
- Muscle stimulation: The groups of muscles which are involves in snoring are trained in order to avoid slackening.
- Bite splints for the upper and lower jar. The bite splint slightly pulls the lower jar forwards thereby widening the pharynx.
- Denture-like prostheses: The devices push the tongue down which helps to prevent the tongue from falling backwards.
- Weight loss is an effective way to reduce snoring.
- Alcohol should not be consumed at least 2 hours before going to bed: alcohol causes the muscles to slacken even more during sleep. This also affects the throat and pharynx. For this reason, alcohol also leads to the narrowing of the respiratory tracts and causes snoring even with people that do not usually snore. Snoring symptoms are worsened for those who do snore and the normal snoring can develop into snoring with breathing pauses (sleep apnoea).
- Tranquilisers or sleeping pills can also cause snoring.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Sleep Well, Feel Better, M.D. Ralph A. Pascualy
Sleep Apnea - The Phantom of the Night: Overcome sleep apnea syndrome and snoring