There are several reasons why people snore, and snoring can originate in different areas of our airways. Generally, snoring occurs when soft tissues get a bit too close together and vibrate when the air travels through it.
So many of us are here wondering why we have started snoring when it previously was not an issue, and what it means. Does it mean something is wrong with our health or our sleep hygiene?
Here is a quick guide on snoring and how it affects your health.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring can be caused by several factors, from nasal congestion to an excess amount of throat tissue. The most common risk factor for snoring is being overweight or obese.
The fat tissue around the neck and throat creates a blockage in the throat area, causing the tissues to vibrate.
Snoring can also be caused by more serious conditions, such as constricted airways, sleep apnea, deviate septum or enlarged tonsils and adenoids. If you have been advised by an Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) Specialist to have your tonsils removed, you may be experiencing tonsil-related snoring. Tonsil and adenoid removal is more common in children than adults.
Should I Be Worried That I Snore?
Snoring is something that many people experience, but the truth is there is almost no situation where snoring is completely benign. If you are snoring, you should consult a doctor to rule out a more serious cause.
Some people also snore more when they are lying on their backs, and less when they are lying on their sides. This snoring phenomenon is called positional snoring and is the outcome of gravity working on your airway.
If you are snoring more when you are lying on your back, this could be a sign of an obstructed airway. If you are waking up feeling tired and unrefreshed, this is also a possible sign that something is wrong with the way your body is working. Dry mouth is also a symptom that can be more damaging than it appears, as it can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections.
When Is Snoring a Concern?
We think that snoring should always be a concern, however for most people it becomes a problem when it disrupts the sleep of others or you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea.
If you are waking up tired and unrefreshed, you are more at risk of falling asleep while driving or working where being tired can be dangerous. Snoring and sleep apnea are also linked to a significant in crease in risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and other chronic health issues.
How Your Environment Affects Snoring
Snoring can be influenced by your environment, especially when it comes to dust and allergens. Avoid strong scents in your laundry, opting for gentle or scent free detergents and softeners. Keep pets off your bed to avoid hair and dander and keep a schedule for replacing your air filters if you have a heat pump in your home.
You can also invest in one room air purifiers that help filter our allergens that can cause inflammation in your airways and make snoring worse. Also pay attention to what foods or beverages cause inflammation for you. For example, wine and dairy are two things that many people find leaves them a bit stuffed up.
How Alcohol Affects Snoring
Alcohol can make snoring much worse, so it is important to avoid drinking within an hour or two of going to sleep. Alcohol relaxes our muscles, which makes more likely that your airway will collapse and cause snoring or sleep apnea.
Alcohol may seem like it makes sleep easier, and it does help initiate sleep, but it disrupts your proper sleep cycles. Keeping conservative with your alcohol consumption and switching to water well before bed will lead to a better sleep with less snoring.
How Smoking Affects Snoring
Smoking can also cause snoring or make existing snoring worse. Cigarette smoke just like any allergen, causes inflammation in the throat muscles.
If you are waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble sleeping for long periods, smoking could be the cause.
If you are snoring, especially if it seems to be accompanied by high blood pressure, dry mouth, tiredness, or witnessed pauses in breathing, it is important to see a doctor to rule out a more serious condition. Snoring is also a problem when it is keeping other people up at night, often referred to as “second hand snoring” or “second hand sleep apnea.”
Do you need help with snoring? At Sleep Better Live Better, we strive to help you have a good night’s sleep. Get in touch with our qualified sleep specialists today to learn more.