What is Snoring?
Have you experienced some vibration sound from the respiratory structures of your friend, partner, or your child during sleep due to obstructed air movement while breathing? That is what snoring is all about. It may be soft at times but in some cases it may be loud and shuttering. In most cases, it is the first sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It’s a common problem that has been reported in over 455 of adult American population.
What is The Science behind Snoring?
During snoring, two structures referred to as uvula and soft palate gets involved. There is an irregular airflow along these structures caused by blockages due to a number of factors. The narrowing of your airway obstructs the free movement of air such that only a small stream gets its way either during inhalation or exhalation. This often results to a grunted sound during either or both processes.
What Are the Main Causes of Snoring?
- There is fat accumulation around your throat
- There are obstructions in your nasal cavities
- You are suffering from a disease known as sleep apnea
- Weakening of the throat causing it to close when you are sleeping
- Your jaws are wrongly positioned as a result of tension in its muscles
- The tissues at the top of airways are touching each other resulting to vibrations
- You have used a relaxant such as alcohol or drugs causing your throat muscles to unwind
- You sleep on your back and your tongue is drooping to the back of your mouth
What Can I Do To Stop Snoring?
- Lifestyle Factors
- Weight Loss: shedding off a few pounds will eliminate* fat accumulation around your neck and in the back of your throat which can decrease* or even stop snoring during sleep.
- Quit Smoking: smokers are at an increased risk to suffer from snoring problem. Smoking cause irritation and blockage of airways causing you snore. Dropping the habit can resolve the problem.
- Quit Alcohol: avoid alcohol consumption near bedtime. This will prevent relaxation of throat muscles which often causes snoring.
- Exercise: regular workouts will tone muscles in different body parts such as arms, legs, and abs. Your throat muscles will also benefit from such exercises and in turn lessen snoring.
- Bedtime Remedies
- Nasal Passages Clearance: sleeping with stuffy nasal cavities can make breathing during sleep difficult causing snoring. Use a Neti pot or decongest your nostrils with nasal strips to avoid obstructions during sleep.
- Sleep Position: avoid sleeping on your back and use a pillow to reposition your head in such a way that your tongue and jaw move forward.
- Humidify You Bedroom: avoid dry air in the bedroom which can cause irritation to airways.
- Throat Exercises
Get used to practicing throat exercises for half an hour each day. This involves pronunciation of certain vowels repeatedly while curling your tongue in different ways to strengthen muscles on the upper respiratory tract.
- With your mouth closed, pucker your lips and hold still for 30 seconds. Repeat this process a few times each day.
- Repeat all the vowels (a-e-i-o-u) loudly a couple of minute for a number of times every day.
- Exercise your tongue by placing it behind the upper front teeth and slide it backwards for 3 minutes a couple of times each day.
- Snoring Surgery
There are a number of surgical operations that if the self-help remedies don’t work, your doctor can propose one to help overcome your problem. These include:
- Traditional Surgery: They include Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), Adenoidectomy, and Tonsillectomy. These are intended to increase* the size of your air passage by surgical removal of obstructive tissues.
- Modern Methods: These include Laser Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) and Somnoplasty which involves removal of the soft palate tissues using lasers or radiofrequencies radiations. However, there are no comprehensive studies conducted yet on the safety of these methods.
- Medical Cures and Treatments
Once you doctor establishes the possible cause of your snoring, he/she may recommend the best treatment options which involve:
- Dental Appliances: Resembling an athlete’s mouth guard, it helps in opening your airway by ensuring* that your tongue and the lower jaw are brought forward while you are asleep.
- Continuous Positive Airway: this refers to a machine placed on your bedside to blow pressurized air in to a mask you wear over your face or nose.
- Other Ways
- Don’t consume stimulants such as caffeine and heavy meals near bedtime.
- Develop a regular sleep time table.
- Practice singing to increase* muscle control around your neck.
- Learn to play didgeridoo, a wind instrument which strengthens the soft palate.
The Expert’s Advice
In reference to Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert, Austin Texas, a snoring couple can keep one person out of good sleep which often can lead to different bedrooms. He adds that this can have detrimental effects on the closeness a couple should enjoy. According to Slaughter, when snoring is disrupted for short period during sleep, it increases* the risks of heart disease. He adds on the importance to take caution if your decision is to self-treat your problem using OTC medications without seeking professional help.
While snoring can sound less of a problem in singles or couples who spend in different bedrooms, it is a health risk or an indicator of a serious underlying medical condition. Making lifestyle changes can be a breakthrough in overcoming snoring but if it has failed before, you should not hesitate to talk with your health care provider. Whereas the condition can’t be a bother to you, it could mean sleepless nights to your partners or those around you. The good news with snoring is that it is easily treatable and preventable.