If you are not one of the 45% of adults who snore on occasion, you probably know a person who is inflicted with the condition. Often people joke about it, but do you really know what causes it? While most of the time it is something simple, like being overly tired or sleeping in the wrong position, if you snore a lot you should get it evaluated by a doctor. As, unfortunately, snoring can be caused by more serious conditions like sleep apnea, which can lead moodiness, depression, diabetes and even heart disease.
What Causes Snoring?
When the air flowing from your nose or mouth is traveling to your lungs and it makes the airway tissues vibrate, it results in snoring. Typically, an abnormal narrowing of your throat, nose or mouth causes the infliction. Sometimes, it can also be caused by an obstruction.
Think about it this way. When you breathe in while sleeping, the air travels through your nose or mouth. As it enters, it crosses over the soft palate on its way to your lungs. If the passageway is blocked or narrowed, it interrupts the airflow. When this happens, it causes tissues like the uvula, tonsils and adenoids to vibrate. This is what causes the sound of snoring. The more blocked or narrower it is, the louder the noise will be.
You only snore when you are asleep because the muscles in the back of your throat relax. When you are awake, they are able to keep all the tissues in place. What causes snoring? It can be caused by many things:
- A blocked nose due to a cold, nasal polyps or allergies.
- Mouth, nose or throat tissue that is enlarged.
- Disturbed airflow caused by a deviated nasal septum.
- Large tonsils, often seen in children.
- Muscle tone loss of throat, often caused with aging.
- Obstructive sleep apnea, which when serious, is caused by blocked airways from enlarged throat tissue.
- Abnormal mouth and throat tissue, such as a thick soft palate, elongated tissue obstructing uvula area or extra tissue for obesity.
Other causes, which may be more temporary, include:
- Being overweight, as excess fat in the throat can narrow it.
- Drinking alcoholic beverages, which affects the section of the brain that controls breathing.
- Medications that can cause drowsiness or muscle relaxers.
- Sleeping in the wrong position.
Remedies to Help
1. Lose the Extra Weight
Sometimes losing weight can help a person stop snoring, but not always. Otherwise, skinny people would not be affected too. However, if you have gained weight and did not snore before then, it may be the cause. Weight gain in the tissue in your neck can causes obstruction when you sleep.
2. Sleep in a Different Position
Sleeping in certain positions can increase your chances of snoring. For example, when you sleep on your back, you can cause your tongue to collapse onto the back of your throat. Side sleeping may alleviate the problem. Consider buying a body pillow that you can hold while you sleep. This might help you stay on your side. You can also buy a bed that raises the head of the bed so you are not lying flat. Some people have even gone as far as attaching tennis balls to their night gown or pajamas so that they will not roll over onto their back or if do, will change positions right away.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can be detrimental to your health, causing your body to react in several ways. This includes snoring. When you don’t get the rest you need, you enter a deep sleep when you finally do. This can cause the muscles in your throat to become too relaxed.
4. No Alcohol at Night
When considering what causes snoring, remember it is not always a physical defect or disorder. It can also be caused by diet choices. This includes drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. Alcohol can cause the resting muscles in your throat to be too relaxed. Sedatives can cause the same effect.
5. Clear Nose Passageways
If you have a cold or another type of sinus infection, try taking a hot shower to clear your nose passageways before you go to sleep. You can also try using a neti pot. A saline spray might help if you use it to rinse your nose out or loosen the mucus built up. Some people have used nasal strips, but if the problem is in your throat, they will not help.
6. Drink Lots of Water
When you don’t drink enough water, the secretions that run into your nasal passageways become thicker. They also gather in the back of the throat more. This can induce snoring.
7. Get New Pillows
When you are thinking about what causes snoring, your pillows are probably the last thing on your mind. However, chances are you need to change them. Dust mites collect in them, triggering allergies. Pet dander accumulates on pillows, too. It is best to air out your pillows or put them in the dryer for an air only cycle every 2-3 weeks and get new ones twice a year. Also, if you are considering a pillow designed to reduce snoring remember that it may cause neck pain because of the way it aligns your body.