What is Snoring?
Snoring is the coarse sound caused by the vibration of tissues in and around the upper airways.
It is not always the same tissues that vibrate but varies from person to person. For some people, the reason for snoring might be the vibration of their tongue, while for others it may be the vibration of tonsil pillars.
Other body parts that may vibrate and lead to snoring include the soft palate and uvula.
The question arises that why do these body parts vibrate? It is obvious that snoring occurs only when a person is asleep. While asleep a person inhales and exhales through their nasal passage.
During sleep, the muscles of the body relax including the muscles in your neck and throat area. But sometimes the muscles that keep the airways open tend to become too relaxed and as a result, it causes a blockage.
This limits the space in the airway which results in a combination of turbulent airflow and hypotonic airway structures that cause the rough noise of snoring.
Why Do People Snore?
Snoring can be the symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.
The breathing of a person can stop for anywhere between 20 to 40 seconds. Once the time has passed, a sudden jerk or a loud gasp resumes the breathing again.
Since the intake of oxygen decreases, this causes a deficiency of oxygen within the body. The vital organs in the body get lesser oxygen and the person might experience irregular heart rhythms.
Although during sleep apnea your breathing will stop, oxygen in your body will reduce and you may not sleep well but you will not be able to feel any difficulty even when awake.
Most of the time it is recognized when other people see you during an episode of sleep apnea.
Reasons for Snoring
- Sleep position: There are many other factors that can be the cause of snoring. The position you sleep in is an important factor. If you sleep in such a way that your posture narrows down the nasal passage, it can cause snoring. For example, going from your back to side or slightly raising the head when asleep will cause snoring. In this case, changing your sleep position will be very helpful to reduce your snoring. Sleeping on your side is a good position to prevent the nasal passage from narrowing down.
- Overweight: Being overweight can also be the cause of your snoring. When you are overweight excess fat gets stored in your body. Fat is also stored in the tissues of the body. Fat getting stored in the tissues around the throat or neck area can constrict the nasal passage. However, if you are not overweight but have an accumulation of fatty tissue around your neck it can still cause snoring. Any kind of excess weight around the throat and neck area will contribute to snoring. Working out and regular exercise will help reduce this fat and consequently also decrease your snoring.
- Age: Your throat will naturally get narrow as you age more. When you reach middle age or and beyond the toning of your muscles in the throat will decrease gradually. This is why the number of adults that snore is far greater than younger kids or teenagers that snore. Adopting healthy habits and maintain them always will help to prevent snoring as you age.
- Drugs and Alcohol: Taking drugs, drinking alcohol and smoking are all causes of snoring. The reason is that drugs and alcohol relax the muscles of the body. This can result in over-relaxation of the muscles that hold the nasal passage open and hence a narrower nasal passage leading to increased snoring. Another minor cause could be having a cold. Sometimes when you catch a cold you get a stuffy nose and the airways might get blocked. This makes it difficult for the air to pass, creating a vacuum in the throat that leads to snoring.
- Genetics: Sometimes you do not have control over the cause of your snoring. These include genetics and gender. If someone in your family snores, chances are you might too. Someone in your family might have a narrow throat, or enlarged tongue or any other physical factor that can lead to snoring and you might inherit that through genetic means. On the other hand, being a male and female also affects your snoring pattern. It has been seen that generally, men have narrower air passages than women and hence the percentage of men that snore is higher than women. Although you cannot do anything about these natural causes once again exercising, adopting healthy habits and bringing healthy lifestyle changes will all help reduce your snoring.