There are a number of reasons why people snore. Knowing the reasons can help you make the best decisions about your health.
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is a noise caused by a partial obstruction of your airway. As you fall asleep, muscles in your soft palate, throat and tongue start to relax. If those muscles relax too much, they can fall toward the back of your throat and partially cut off your airway. As you breathe, the air passing in and out of your airway causes the soft tissues to vibrate, resulting in the “sawing wood” sound of snoring.
Why Do People Snore?
Here are ten of the most common reasons why people snore.
1. Anatomical issues
Some people might have issues with the anatomy of their upper respiratory tract or have obstructions which affect their breathing when they sleep, and therefore cause the snoring sound.
2. Breathing through your mouth when sleeping
Ideally, we should breathe through our noses. However, it’s easy for our mouths to drop open and result in snoring.
3. Sleeping on your back
Sleeping on your back means the soft tissues and tongue are much more likely to fall to the back of your throat, obstruct your airway and result in snoring, especially if you are breathing through your mouth while sleeping.
Obese people are much more likely to snore. It might be due to position or more soft tissue, or a tendency to breathe through the mouth.
5. A dry environment
A dry environment can irritate the nose and even cause nosebleeds. This can lead to people breathing through their mouths, which can result in snoring.
6. Allergies and congestion
Those who suffer from allergies tend to get congested. Congestion can cause people to breathe through the mouth rather than the nose.
7. Drinking alcohol
Alcohol can make the soft tissues relax more, leading to more snoring.
Various medications can also make the soft tissues relax more, leading to snoring. Beware of insomnia drugs.
9. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
OSA is one of the main causes of snoring. As the name suggests, there is an obstruction in the airway, usually the soft tissue and tongue, that cuts off the airway completely. This causes the person to wake up for milliseconds at a time, gasp for air, often with a snoring sound, and go back to sleep again.
Those with sleep apnea can have literally hundreds of “events” each night. Going to a sleep study center can help the person determine how severe their apnea is, and what the best treatments will be for it. The most common is the CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure), which forces air gently past any obstruction and can significantly reduce events. Not everyone can sleep with the mask on their face, however, so they might look for other treatment options.
There are a number of other surgical and non-surgical interventions available. It will depend on your anatomy, type of apnea, and overall health. Losing weight, as little as 10 pounds, has also been shown to help relieve symptoms.
10. Other sleep issues
Some people eat too much before bed and then sleep with their mouths open and snore. Other people skimp on sleep so that when they are finally able to go to bed, they snore. Examining one’s sleep habits could point the way to ending snoring.
If someone snores, it can lead to disrupted sleep both for them and their partner. Use these reasons to help you eliminate snoring from your life and get a better night’s sleep.