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Sleep Apnea

What Causes Snoring?

Jul 31 • 3 minute read

Snoring is a harsh, rough sound that occurs during sleep. Snoring is a common problem among all ages and genders, affecting nearly 90 million Americans. Practically everyone snores occasionally, and light snoring is usually not a significant problem. However, persistent and consistent snoring can be a sign of a primary sleep disorder, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition can result in pauses in breathing when sleeping.

Professionals indicate that snoring can increase the risk of hardening arteries, one of the leading causes of stroke and heart diseases. Most importantly, regular snoring disrupts sleep quality, often leading to daytime dysfunction, irritability, and increased health problems. The vast majority of people who snore don’t know that they do, or what the condition indicates about their overall health.

Snoring can do more than keep your bed mate up at night. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of effective remedies for a quieter, deeper sleep. But for your doctor to treat this condition effectively, he must understand the causes behind your snoring.

What Happens When You Snore?

Snoring is mostly caused by the relaxation of neck muscles. When you fall asleep, your neck muscles relax. Sometimes these muscles relax too much, leading to the partial closure of the upper airway (the nose and throat). This action narrows the passageway through which air travels to the lungs, causing the tissues in your throat to vibrate when you breathe. It is the vibration that produces the noises associated with snoring. Here are some of the factors that can contribute to the relaxation of neck muscles.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that leads to pauses in breathing when sleeping.  It occurs when the neck muscles ease to a point where they entirely block the airways for more than 10 seconds. The condition is characterized by loud snoring followed by periods of silence when breathing is paused or nearly paused. Snoring is often associated with OSA, but not all snorers have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Weight Gain: Being overweight is one of the most common causes of snoring. If you are overweight, you have more tissue in the throat and nasal areas. The extra flesh in the throat vibrates as you breathe in during sleep, causing you to snore. Weight gain is often associated with new cases of snoring. The heaviness of your neck can press down on your throat during sleep. Many people who never snored in the past will start to do so if they put on a few extra pounds.

Aging: The normal aging process leads to the relaxation of the throat muscles, causing snoring. Over time, the muscle tone in your throat decreases, and your throat becomes narrower. Since we don’t have much control in the aging process, there’s isn’t much we can do to prevent snoring caused by aging. However, throat exercises, new bedtime routines, and lifestyle changes can help to reduce snoring caused by aging.

Sleep Posture: Your sleeping posture can also be an issue when it comes to snoring. Having a poor sleeping posture can narrow your airways leading to snoring. For instance, sleeping flat on your back can cause the tissues in your throat to relax and block the airway. Readjusting your sleep position can help prevent snoring caused by poor sleeping posture.

Physical Attributes: Your physical attributes can increase the risk of snoring. For example, men are more likely to snore because their air passages are narrower compared to women. In most cases, physical attributes that contribute to snoring, such as enlarged adenoids and small throats, are hereditary. One way to prevent snoring caused by physical characteristics is through lifestyle changes.

Congestion: Other common causes of snoring included nasal and sinus problems as well as alcohol and medications. A stuffy nose or obstructed airways can make breathing difficult, creating a vacuum in the throat, thus causing snoring. Alcohol and medications are also known to increase muscle relaxation leading to snoring.

Discover How HS Apnea Can Help

Snoring is a common phenomenon. About half of the adult population in the United States snore in their sleep. In most cases, this condition can be remedied with specific lifestyle changes. However, some cases require medical treatment, primarily if caused by a sleep disorder like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Consult Dr. Landry at Houston Sleep Apnea to discover the specific cause of your snoring and find an effective treatment plan.


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