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General Information: Snoring Facts

Snoring is noisy breathing during sleep. It is a common problem among all ages and both genders, and it affects approximately 90 million American adults - 37 million on a regular basis (National Sleep Foundation).



Why Do We Snore?

The sound that we refer to as snoring is primarily caused by an obstruction of the air flow within the respiratory structures, namely the soft palette and other tissues in the mouth, nose and throat. When we sleep, the throat muscles and respiratory tissues become relaxed and flaccid causing the respiratory tissue to vibrate and produce the snoring sound. There are many factors that may cause a person to develop a snoring problem, however most experts agree that the most common causes of snoring can be attributed to the following:

Age

Research demonstrates that age and snoring are positively related. In other words as we get older the probability of developing a snoring problem increases. This is because with age the muscles that support the respiratory structures weaken and become less toned, obstructing the airflow and producing the snoring sound.

Obesity

It is important to note that the muscles responsible for supporting the respiratory structures are essentially no different to other muscle groups that make up the body. Individuals whose body mass index exceeds their ideal calculated weight in accordance with the height, are more likely to have a higher percentage of body fat than those who do not exceed their recommended healthy weight. This results in the build up of fatty deposits throughout the body which has a detrimental effect on the performance of the muscle in terms of building and retaining muscle tone. This is also applicable to the respiratory muscles that are responsible for keeping the airways unobstructed during sleep.

Drinking, smoking and taking sedatives

All of the above can contribute towards the development of a snoring problem based on the premise that they act as muscle relaxants, reducing the effectiveness of the respiratory muscles that are responsible for ensuring that the airway remains unobstructed whilst we are sleeping. This is why many people who die through lethal drug overdoses that contain sedatives often “suffocate” in their sleep as a result of these muscles becoming so relaxed that they simply fail to perform their function.

It is also important to note that smoking tobacco also contributes towards the weakening of the throat muscles, therefore smokers and drinkers are significantly more likely to develop asnoring problem than those individuals who refrain from these activities.

Sleeping Position

The position in which we sleep is also an important causal factor in the development of a snoring problem. We are most likely to develop a snoring problem if we sleep on our back as gravity pulls the respiratory muscles backwards, resulting in the narrowing of the airways which generates the vibrating



Diagnosing Your Problem

How do I know if I snore, and how best can I treat the problem?

There are many anti-snoring treatments available on the market all promising to reduce or completely eliminate problem snoring. The effectiveness of anti-snoring treatments, however, is to a certain extent dependent on the nature of the snoring problem and therefore snorers must seek to identify and diagnose what type of snore problem they have.

The vast majority of snorers are made aware of their snoring problem by their partner or other close family members as a result of the level of noise produced by the snorer.If you live alone, it is often more difficult to determine whether you have developed a snoring problem as there is no one around make you aware.

For further information please see our Snore Test page to see what type of snore problem you may have.