Everything You Need to Know About Snoring

Did you know that around 45% of adults occasionally snore, while 25% snore regularly — usually disturbing their bed partner's sleep and sometimes even their own? Let's look into the causes and potential solutions to the issue of snoring.

Key takeaways:
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    Snoring doesn't necessarily mean you have sleep apnea.
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    Both sleep apnea and snoring can significantly reduce your quality of sleep.
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    There are lifestyle changes, such as reducing alcohol intake, which can reduce the severity of your snoring.

Sleep apnea and snoring – is it related?

Sleep apnea is related to snoring. It's a potentially serious condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This condition has varying degrees of severity and can cause loud snoring sounds that are disruptive to sleep.

Some people might snore but don't have sleep apnea. There are no definitive rules as to when snoring and sleep apnea occurs during the sleep cycle, but studies have found certain trends. It is thought that regular snoring occurs more during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. This would explain why snorers don’t wake themselves up with the sound of their snoring.

For those who have sleep apnea, their sleep quality drops dramatically. With sleep apnea, you can wake up 10 times an hour, which can leave you sleep-deprived. The latest statistics show that 26% of men aged 30-50 have sleep apnea, and the sleep apnea increases with age.

Who are at risk to develop sleep apnea?

Men are more likely to have sleep apnea, and the chances increase with age. But there are other risk factors to consider.

There is a strong link between type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea, with 50-80% of people diagnosed with diabetes also experiencing sleep apnea.

Smokers are also more likely to develop sleep apnea due to increase inflammation and fluid retention in the upper respiratory tract.

Using alcohol and sedatives can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea as they relax the muscles in your throat. Other risk factors include being overweight, being older, family history and a history of medical pathologies such as congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.

5 causes of snoring:

There are some fundamental reasons why people have a tendency to snore and disturb their own and other's sleep.

  • Mouth anatomy. Yes, sadly, the inside of your mouth can make you snore. The jaw, tongue, throat, and neck can all contribute to snoring. If you think that might be the reason for snoring check with your doctor;
  • Alcohol. We all know that most people snore after drinking. Drinking alcoholic beverages can either cause the problem or lead to snoring louder. The relaxing effect alcohol has on your jaw and throat can block the airway and result in snoring and restless sleep;
  • Nasal problems. People with a stuffy nose or other nasal problems can become chronic snorers;
  • Sleep position. Putting too much pressure on specific body parts at night might lead to pain and possibly be a trigger for snoring;
  • Weight gain. Extra weight or obesity can often lead to difficulty breathing because bulky throat tissue blocks the airways.

Ways to reduce snoring

  • Changes in your behavior. You could reduce alcohol consumption and try to breathe through your nose during the day. It will take some effort and getting used to, but it is definitely for the best;
  • Nasal septum surgery. This is not for everyone, but a simple surgery could do wonders if there are some physical issues in your nose;
  • Sleeping on your side. You might have noticed that when people sleep on their backs, there is a bigger chance for them to snore. It's hard to control your movements during the night, but there are special backpacks available to try that don’t let you turn on your back when you sleep;
  • Mouth taping. It might sound scary as you could assume there is a risk of suffocation. However, it's perfectly safe and is a way of training yourself to breath through your nose. Avoid mouth taping if you have any nasal congestion;
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). If you have severe sleep apnea and nothing else helps, you should consider trying it. This therapy is a standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses a hose connected to a mask or nosepiece to provide consistent and continuous air pressure to help you breathe while you sleep. Your healthcare providers will give you detailed instructions on how to use the machine if an assessment determines you need one.

Snoring doesn't necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea. But if you are waking regularly in the night or disturbing your loved ones, it's worth getting a check-up from your doctor. The quality of your sleep can be significantly reduced due to snoring, so make sure to reduce your alcohol intake, try to breathe through your nose during the day, and talk to your doctor if you feel concerned.

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