06.08.2009 Snoring

Snoring is thought to affect as many as 4 out of 10 men, and up to 3 out of 10 women.
A quarter of Britons snore and 2 in 3 do it so loudly it keeps their partners awake.

What causes snoring?
When you are awake, the muscles in your mouth, nose and throat keep your airways open which allows you to breathe easily. When you are asleep these muscles relax making it much harder for the air to pass freely. When you then try to breathe, the relaxed soft tissue in your mouth, nose and throat vibrates which is the sound we hear when someone snores.

There are certain factors that may make you more likely to snore, some are within our control and others are out of our control.

Within our control
  • Overweight people are more likely to snore. This will be due to poor muscle tone and excess fat around your neck which makes your airways more likely to collapse.
  • Smoking or exposure to second hand smoke relaxes muscles and creates swelling, inflammation, irritation and nasal congestion.
  • Alcohol increases muscle relaxation making you more likely to snore.
  • Sleeping posture - It is thought that sleeping flat on your back allows the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.

Out of our control

  • Hereditary - A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids and other physical attributes which contribute to snoring can be hereditary.
  • Aging middle age and beyond - When you age, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
  • Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore.
  • Allergies, asthma, a cold, or sinus infections - The lining of the nose and the throat, leading to snoring.
Self help snoring tips

Lose weight
Losing weight is often a very effective cure for mild to moderate snoring. The aim is to reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease snoring.

Sleep on your side
If you only snore while lying on your back then sleeping on your side might cure your snoring altogether.

Elevate your head
Elevate your mattress where your head rests by putting pillows underneath it. By having your head at a slight angle may help reduce nasal congestion.

Avoid certain foods and alcohol before bed
Alcohol increases muscle relaxation making you more likely to snore. High-fat milk products or soy milk products cause mucus to build up in the throat which can lead to snoring as well.

Sleep Apnoea
Snoring by itself is relatively harmless. However, if you do snore you may have a more serious condition called Sleep Apnoea which is defined as the cessation of airflow during sleep preventing air from entering the lungs caused by an obstruction. These periods of 'stopping breathing' only become clinically significant if the cessation lasts for more than 10 seconds each time and occurs more than 10 times every hour. When you experience an episode of apnoea during sleep your brain will automatically wake you up, usually with a very loud snore or snort, in order to breathe again. If you suspect you may have Sleep Apnoea you should see your GP.

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