Snoring is a common sleep problem with significant public health concerns. It is a loud and unpleasant sound due to obstructed air that occurs as a result of vibration of respiratory structures while sleeping. In some cases, the sound may be soft, but in most cases, it is loud and unpleasant. Snoring can reduce the quality of your sleep which leads to restlessness, daytime fatigue, irritability and health problems. It can also cause relationship strain especially if it keeps people around you awake.
The prevalence of snoring increases with age in both sexes. For females, the highest prevalence rate of snoring occurs at age 40–49 years (34% for moderate, 14% for habitual snoring). Whereas in males, the highest prevalence rate of snoring was obtained in the age group 50–59 years. Not only is snoring a nuisance, doctors have discovered that about 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods) increases their risk of developing heart disease. Majority of people have resorted to sleeping in separate rooms as a remedy for snoring. There is however only a limit to which this can go. Here are common causes and solutions that can help you and your partner achieve quality rest and sleep.
Common Causes of Snoring
The following are factors responsible for obstruction of the airway which causes vibration in the tissues that lead to snoring
- Age: As one ages, the neck muscles and respiratory structures begin to narrow and weaken. This can lead to obstruction of the airways and causing snoring
- Obesity and overweight: There is a possibility of an overweight person snoring due to fatty tissues around the neck.
- Heredity: The shape of the structure of your throat and nose can cause snoring. Snoring is common among men than women because men have their airways narrower than that of women.
- Structural abnormality: Nasal and sinus structural problems, deviated septum or blockage can narrow the airway causing difficulty in breathing, which leads to snoring.
- Alcohol intake
- Certain medications like tranquilizers (sedatives) e.g. diazepam, nitrazepam, lorazepam cause muscle relaxation, which may cause snoring.
- Sleeping positioning: Sleeping on your back can cause the muscle around the neck to fall back and obstruct the airway leading to snoring.
- Obstructive sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a common but serious sleep disorder where your breathing is briefly interrupted when you’re asleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. It is accompanied with loud snoring, noisy and laboured breathing and interruptions with gasping and snorting. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen. It often leaves people exhausted, irritable and restless during the day, you must of the time find people with this disorder fall asleep during meals or conversation. OSA is important to see the doctor immediately as this can put one at risk of other health-related problems.
Solutions to Snoring
- Good sleep position: Lying on your back during sleep causes the walls of the throat to relax and narrow. This leads to blocking or interruption of breathing. Sleeping on the side helps the neck muscles fall to the side and prevent any throat obstruction. If it is difficult to maintain this position, get some pillows or elevation to prevent you from lying on your back.
- Weight loss: Although thin people snore too, people with excess weight can lose their fat through exercises. This will widen the airways and burn out fatty issues around the neck.
- Ease nasal congestions: If experiencing nasal congestions due to cold and allergies, fast-moving air through these blocked nostrils can cause snoring. A warm shower before you go to bed would help. A warm damp cloth to soothe the nose will aid free flow of air through the nose to give a sound and uninterrupted sleep.
- Avoid medications. You should avoid sedatives as it causes relaxation of the throat muscles making the patient more liable to snore.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking: Alcohol and smoking relax tense muscles of the neck, which can lead to snoring. It is therefore advisable to avoid them to achieve better sleep.
- If your partner or people around you tell you about your noisy snoring and breathing cessations during sleep, you should seek the help of a physician as soon as possible. This will help you rule out any abnormality and prevent further complications of sleep apnea. Some of which include heart failure and hypertension.
- The following devices can be prescribed by the doctor after other measures above have been taken to help you achieve quality sleep.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device: These devices prevent your airway closing while you sleep by delivering a continuous supply of compressed air through a mask.
- Mandibular advancement device (MAD): This gum shield-like device fits around your teeth, holding your jaw and tongue forward to increase the space at the back of your throat while you sleep.
- Surgery: This happens if respiratory efficiency is threatened due to an abnormality in neck structures e.g. inner neck stricture. Surgery is usually the last resort after the use of other treatment regimens.