Snoring is the rough rasping sound that results when air flows past the relaxed tissues in the throat, which (in some people) causes the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. It usually occurs when an individual progresses from light sleep to deep sleep, which is when the muscles relax in the soft palate (the back of the roof of the mouth), tongue, and throat.
As these tissues relax in someone who snores, they can partially block the airway. The more narrowed the airway becomes, the more the tissues vibrate – and the more forceful the airflow becomes, making the snoring louder.
Snoring is estimated to affect almost 60% of men and 40% of women. It can be caused by a number of different factors, and it is usually assumed to be a harmless problem – apart from being disruptive to others who are trying to sleep.
However, snoring can sometimes indicate a more serious underlying health condition or a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. If so, the issue warrants further medical investigation and treatment.
Why Do I Snore?
Snoring can result from a number of different factors, including the following:
Having a low and thick soft palate can narrow the airway thanks to gravity when you lie down. Individuals who are overweight, have enlarged tonsils, have an enlarged uvula (the fleshy extension at the back of the soft palate which hangs above the throat), or have extra tissue in the back of their throats can similarly experience this issue.
Snoring is often louder and more frequent when the snorer is sleeping on their back. Gravity can cause the mouth to fall open, and tissues such as the tongue and uvula can fall to the back of the throat. This can cause these tissues to vibrate and the airway to narrow.
Certain nasal conditions can also contribute to snoring, such as chronic nasal congestion and allergies that cause nasal congestion. Another issue may be a deviated septum, which is where the partition between the two nostrils is uneven, making one nasal passage smaller than the other.
Alcohol can cause the body’s muscles to relax, including the throat muscles. This can obstruct the airways, making breathing more forceful. This is why drinking too much alcohol or drinking too close to bedtime can increase your chances of snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Snoring is frequently associated with the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea. This disorder occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax, causing the airway to narrow or close completely when breathing in, preventing enough air from getting into the lungs.
Because the brain senses the body’s sudden inability to breathe, it can cause the person to awake momentarily (and mechanically) to take a breath. The person then usually inhales with a gasp, snort, or choke, but without necessarily realizing it. This can happen repeatedly through the night, preventing deep and restful sleep.
Sleep Specialists in Weatherford, TX
If snoring is affecting your life and not allowing you to get enough sleep, it is in your best interest to see the sleep specialists here at the Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas. Our own Dr. Olusegun Oseni is board-certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and critical care, and he can give you an accurate and efficient assessment and treatment that will work to help you get a good night’s sleep every night.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Oseni, contact our friendly staff today at (817) 594-9993 or request an appointment now via our online form. Let us help you begin your journey to better sleep tonight and a brighter tomorrow!