Most snoring is, very simply, the turbulent sound generated during sleep, by trying to breathe through an obstructed upper airway. Depending on the severity or causes of the obstruction, the snoring sounds can range from soft and gentle to alarmingly and disruptively loud.
What Causes Snoring?
There are several circumstances, occurring independently or in combination, that can contribute to obstructing the upper airway. The obstruction may be caused by the tongue's position or by a collapsing or tightening of the soft tissues of the throat, either of which may have natural, health related, or environmental causes. Let's explore some of these causes:
- Naturally smaller or weaker throats collapse during sleep
- Sleeping on one's back causes the tongue to fall back and obstruct breathing
- Aging can weaken the soft tissues of the upper throat or uvula, causing them to touch
- Weight gain causes fat to accumulate around the throat, constricting the airway
- Any condition – such as allergies, colds, sinusitis – which cause a “stuffy nose”
- Alcohol and medications that relax the muscles, causing the throat to collapse
- Swelling of the throat or upper airway, due to illness or other factors
- Heavy smoking
What Impact Does Snoring Have on Your Life?
Snoring is more than just an inconvenience; it can have serious and wide-ranging consequences to the health and well-being of both the snorer and the snorer's partner. Snorers wake up several times a night – most often without even realizing it. This prevents them from achieving the deep, restorative sleep that is necessary for physical and mental health. It is no coincidence that sleep deprivation is considered torture!
Disrupted sleep has been linked to:
- Weight gain and overeating
- Lack of productivity
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty learning
- Diminished motor skills
- Decreased memory
- Diminished sex drive
- Shorter lifespan
How Does Snoring Impact Your Relationship?
Snorer's sleep partners suffer the same consequences to health and well-being that snorers do. They have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep, and must often choose between sleeping alone or facing the day sleep-deprived. Not only does a lack of sleep effect the libido, it also drives couples apart, either physically, by making it necessary to sleep in separate rooms, or by generating resentment. For most couples, bed time is a peaceful time at the end of the day to re-connect. Sleeping separately can deprive couples of this important, restorative bonding time.
What Snoring Remedies Are Available?
In rare cases, for instance, when snoring is caused by a physical abnormality and it may be necessary to be treated surgically. For most snoring*, however, all that's necessary is a clearing of the upper airway, which is achieved simply with the nightly use of a mandibular repositioning mouthpiece, such as the VitalSleep Stop Snoring Mouthpiece. Whether snoring is caused by sleep position, tongue position, or the soft tissues of the throat, a dental appliance that adjusts the lower jaw slightly forward is all that's needed to clear the airway. Adjusting the jaw forward brings the tongue forward and widens the throat, allowing air to pass through unobstructed.
In some cases, snoring can signal other medical conditions called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by a periodic pause in breathing, occurring several times an hour and lasting from seconds to minutes. If you suspect that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, please seek qualified medical attention. It's important to note that, while snoring may be associated with sleep apnea, snoring does not cause it, and treating snoring may not treat aleep apnea or other sleep disorders.