Ever slept in a room with someone who snores intensely and deeply while sleeping? Well, if you haven't yet, I have and trust me, it can be so discomforting to the bed partner. I actually do have a relative whose snoring sounds like the roaring of a lion. Sleeping becomes very difficult and un-refreshing when sleeping beside such persons.
What does Snoring Mean?
The term snoring refers to the resulting unpleasant sound made by someone while sleeping. This resulting sound stems from the vibration of one's respiration structures as well as the obstructed air movement during breathing. In many cases, snoring can be quite loud and unpleasant; it is only in rare cases that snoring is mild and softref.
More so, it is can be said to be a noisy breathing during sleep and it is a condition that is common among all ages and both genders - although males and overweight individuals are more vulnerable to it. As people increase in age, snoring also becomes more serious. It can cause disruptions to your own sleep and your bed-partner's. It can lead to fragmented and un-refreshing sleep which translates into poor daytime function (tiredness and sleepiness) and heart disease - two most common health effects linked to snoring.
Snoring is the result of the relaxation of the uvula and soft palate. These tissues can relax enough to partially block the airway, resulting in irregular airflow and vibrations.
Explaining the concept further: A lot of changes occur in our body systems while we are asleep. The throat muscles tend to be relaxed, the tongue falls backward while the throat becomes narrow and "floppy" while we sleep. During the breathing in and breathing out process, the walls of the throat tend to vibrate. Like pointed out earlier, it is these vibrations that build up to the characteristic sound called snoring. The loudness of snoring is directly proportional to the vibrations of the walls of the throat; the narrower the airways, the greater the vibrations and the louder the snoringref.
The snoring act does not really affect the one snoring, it mostly disrupts the bed partner's sleep or room partner. I have been a victim of this several times and I found sleeping to be very difficult; I could just sleep. I would have to cover my ears with the pillow but the sound would still penetrate. Snoring results in lack of sleep which then translates into daytime tiredness and sleepiness.
According to Sleep Foundation, the two most common adverse health effects casually linked to snoring are daytime dysfunction and heart disease and about one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea.
Snoring could lead to a very serious health condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (cessation of breathing). This happens when the walls of the throat tend to collapse completely so that it is completely occluded. Research suggests that snoring is one of the factors of sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which repeated sleep interruptions occur.
Why Do People Snore?
Image Source: WebMD
Everything is being triggered by something; nothing happens without a cause. It is not different in the case of snoring, people snore because of several reasons or causes and if these causes are being tackled properly, snoring could be avoided. Nearly everyone snores at one point or the other, but for some people it is a persisting and chronic problem. Remember, snoring happens when the flow of air through your mouth and nose is blocked. Numerous factors could interfere with air flow and they include:
Sleep deprivation and Sleep Position
When a person is fond of depriving himself of frequent sleeping or not observing the normal sleeping rate, such person would tend to snore whenever he/ she gets the opportunity to finally sleep. This implies that not getting enough sleep can lead to further throat relaxation causing snoring. Sleeping posture also causes one to snore; we could either sleep in a sideways position, laying face down or laying on one's back. However, snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when one sleeps on the back. This is so because of the airways' narrowing as a result of gravity's effect on the throat; it causes the tongue to fall to the back of the mouth.
Excessive Alcohol Intake and Drug Use
Research show that, too much consumption of alcohol before bedtime or other drug relaxants can also make a person's tongue and throat muscles to relax grossly. Alcohol relaxes throat muscles and decreases the natural defenses against airway obstruction which eventually leads to one snoring.
This is a body disorder involving increasing body fat. Too much weight results in bulky throat tissue that is, gathering of fats in and around the throat. Results show that large tonsils and adenoids make people to snore ref.
This is another major factor that causes people to snore while they sleep. When a person over-works himself or is totally exhausted, such tends to snore deeply or intensely when they sleep.
Studies further show throat weakness (causes the throat to close during sleep), mispositioned jaw (caused by tension in the muscles), blocked nasal airway (obstruction in the nasal passageway) also contributes to people snoring while they sleep. Hence, if all these things are being guarded against, snoring would not occur.
How can Snoring be Treated?
Here are a few ways snoring could be prevented or minimized considering that there is no precise treatment that can totally stop one from snoring.
Lifestyle changes entail doing away with habits and things that could trigger snoring. A good lifestyle and habit will help in having a sound and less disturbing sleep. It is usually the first-line of treatment recommended by doctors in that snoring causes and triggers generally revolve around our lifestyle. In order to prevent snoring from occurring during sleep, snorers are advised to sleep on their side (to prevent the tough from lying on the back), raise their head off the bed a few inches, use decongestants to open your airways, stick to a sleep schedule etc.
More so, snorers are also advised to focus on losing their weight, desist from consuming alcohol close to bedtime, treat nasal congestion as well as stop depriving themselves from regular sleep.
A number of other treatment options are also used to stop snoring. These range from over-the-counter aids such as nasal sprays, nasal strips or nose clips, lubricating sprays, oral appliances and "anti-snore" clothing and pillows, to unusual activities such as playing the didgeridoo. However, one needs to be wary of over-the-counter snore treatments that have no scientific evidence to support their claims, such as stop-snore rings or wrist worn electrical stimulation bandsquote source.
It is worthy of note that according to research, medications are usually not helpful in the treatment of snoring symptoms. However, it can help control issues like nasal congestion and allergic reactions.
Snoring can also be treated through undergoing some specific surgical operations such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) and Bipolar Radiofrequency Ablation. The Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a sleep surgery focused on removing and/or remodelling tissues in the back of the throat. This endpoint of the process is to widen the airway thereby preventing breathing obstruction.
On the other hand, Radiofrequency Ablation is a medical process that employs about 77 °C to 85 °C radiofrequency energy and heat to able part of the electrical conduction system of the heart, tumor or other dysfunctional tissue. The procedure is does not completely eliminate snoring; it only helps in reducing the severity of snoring.
These surgeries are actually really helpful in treating snoring cases but quite expensive. They as well do have their own side effects.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
This approach has to with the snorer using a mask over the nose or mouth while sleeping. The mask helps in keeping the airway open during sleep thereby eliminating snoring. CPAP is highly effective in treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea but it makes one uncomfortable.
Snorers are usually unaware of the fact that the snore so they depend on the observations made by others. Snoring also does not seem to have any serious complications but sleep apnea can cause severe problems like waking up many times at night which hinders restorative sleeping, heart strain which raises blood pressure and increases the chances of stroke and heart attack, poor night sleeping etc. Summarily, if you eventually find out that you or anyone frequently snores while sleeping, the above treatment measures has proven to be helpful.
Craving for more? Visit reference materials
Wikimedia - Snoring
Sleep Foundation - Snoring and Sleeping
Sleep Foundation - Sleep Apnea