What Causes Snoring?
Chainsaws and Sleepless Nights
Have you ever asked yourself “What causes snoring”? Sometimes it’s funny, most of the time it’s bothersome, but it can be a sign of something more serious. We can probably all think of a time when we couldn’t sleep because someone was snoring loudly nearby.
Snoring is not a medical disorder on its own, but beyond disrupting sleep, snoring can be a symptom of an underlying problem, like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But why do we snore, and what can we do about it? Let’s look at what causes snoring and some snoring remedies.
Causes of Snoring
What causes snoring? According to the Mayo Clinic, snoring is a result of compressed airways that force the air from each breath through a tightened space, causing tissues like the soft palate to vibrate. This produces that lovely chainsaw melody that we all know and dislike. But what is putting pressure on those passages?
- Mouth, throat, and sinus tissue. Some people just have thicker throat and sinus tissue than others, or looser tissue that vibrates easily.
- Narrower air passages. According to the National Sleep Foundation, men’s air passages are often more narrow than women’s air passages.
- Being overweight can be one of the causes of snoring. An excess of fatty tissue around the throat can compress airways.
- Alcohol use, especially shortly before sleep, can contribute to snoring. Depressants like alcohol can affect muscles related to breathing.
- Congested sinuses, whether from allergy or illness, compress airways during wakefulness and sleep.
If air passages become so compressed that they close completely, that is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is dangerous because it interrupts normal breathing, and thus oxygen flow to the heart. It is not common for sleep apnea to be a direct cause of death, but sleep apnea can lead to other, potentially fatal health problems. It also disturbs sleep patterns, which can lead to tiredness, impaired reflexes, and a lower quality of life in general.
After we ask, “What causes snoring?”, we also need to ask, “How do we stop snoring?” and what are some snoring remedies? If your nights are noisy due to your partner’s snoring, or if you snore and want to feel better, there are things you can do about it. As always, visit your dentist to work out what is causing your snoring, and follow their directions.
- If you sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side instead. Sleeping on your back lets your tongue and throat tissues relax, which narrows air passages and leads to snoring.
- If you suffer from frequent sinus congestion, you might have allergies. Talk with your primary physician to find out how to unclog your airways so you can sleep more comfortably. You may want to get checked for allergies, or for a deviated septum.
- If you have OSA, the most common treatment is, “continuous positive airway pressure,” or CPAP, but many people find it is high maintenance, cumbersome and uncomfortable way to get a good night’s sleep. If you want a simple and noninvasive treatment, then an oral dental appliance, such as a sleep apnea appliance, is a very effective and convenient way to stop or lessen your snoring. This can be part of a treatment plan, and may be all that is needed to provide relief!
At Dr. Blum and Associates, we frequently use sleep apnea appliances to help our patients snore less. Custom-fitted for maximum comfort, these correct the position of the jaw and tongue to open airways without drying them out.
We believe that restful sleep is something we should all be able to enjoy. If your sleep quality (or someone else’s) is affected by snoring, then we can help you work out what might be causing your snoring and how to get rid of it.