You probably do not need anyone to tell you that snoring is a loud, harsh, or hoarse sound that often occurs during sleep. Nearly everyone has heard someone snore.
However, most are unaware that it is so much more than just an inconvenient (and often obnoxious) noise that keeps people awake.
Like an onion, snoring has many layers. As you peel the layers away, you understand what a monumental effect those sounds have on your overall health.
Snoring is the noise that results when respiratory structures vibrating against one another as you try to breathe. It occurs when the tongue, uvula, soft palate, and throat muscles cause an obstruction, and then rub against each other as air is pushed through for a normal breath.
When you fall asleep, every muscle in your body relaxes. This includes those in your mouth and throat.
So, your tongue and soft palate fall back towards your throat. Tissues that are relaxed enough to touch during the sleep stage do not touch while you are awake, which is why you don't walk around snoring all day.
Snoring is a symptom of a variety of potential sleep disorders and other medical issues, but it can also contribute to conditions.
Snoring is never just a noise. Approximately 45 percent of adults snore occasionally, and it is suggested that chronic (frequent) snoring occurs in 20 percent of all adults. So, if you've ever felt like you are the only person dealing with this sleep-disordered breathing, rest assured that you are not alone.
Snoring occurs as a result of obstructed airflow, but there is a long list of reasons why this happens, including:
Some people do not know they snore. Whether you are single or you just have a partner who is either a very deep sleeper or too nice to tell you, you may be wondering if you are snoring based on other signs, such as:
Anyone can snore, and snoring can develop at any age. It is hard to label who is most at risk because there are so many determining factors. However, it is common for snorers to suffer from other sleep-related disorders, such as teeth grinding and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Being overweight increases your risk of snoring significantly. Genetics can play a role, if you have inherited a narrow throat of enlarged uvula or tonsils.
Pregnancy makes you prone to temporary snoring, and as mentioned, aging is a factor, as well. If you smoke, drink alcohol, or take certain recreational, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs, you are also at greater risk.
What many do not realize is that snoring robs you of quality sleep. When you begin your sleep cycle, you are in a light sleep stage known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM).
Your body temperature drops and your heart rate slows. During the deeper stage of NREM, your body regrows and repairs tissues, strengthens the immune system, and builds muscle and bone.
About 90 minutes after you officially fall asleep, you enter your first stage of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Your brain is active, you have dreams, and you burn more calories. REM deprivation is associated with anxiety, irritability, aggression, increased appetite, and depression. REM is considered the most crucial stage of sleep.
However, if you snore, there is little chance you are making it to the REM stage. Not only that, you are getting interrupted constantly in NREM, so your body can't do the repairing and recharging it needs to during deeper NREM stages. If your airway is blocked, your body is working harder all night just to push air through for normal organ function.
Snoring diminishes quality sleep and affects your health in ways you may never fully comprehend. A few health risks include:
If you snore, or you have a loved one who does, it is important that steps are taken to address this disorder. It is not just a loud noise. Snoring does affect your health in a variety of ways and should not be ignored or dismissed another day.
Many problem snorers fear that the only solution is surgery or being stuck with an unsightly CPAP every day of their lives. But an entire class of super-helpful and affordable aids is on the market now. Have a look at our list of the most effective ones.