Chances are, you’ve snored at least once in your life. Whether you know it or not.
It’s estimated that about half of people have snored at some point in their lives, though the number of habitual snorers is less and more dependent upon gender. If you’ve ever woken yourself up snoring or been kicked in the night by your significant other, here’s what you need to know about the common causes of chronic snoring.
What is snoring?
How a snore happens physically is relatively simple. It is caused by a vibration of the soft tissues in the throat. As we relax into sleep, the muscles supporting these soft structures also relax. As air is inhaled and exhaled, it may vibrate structures such as soft palate at the very back top of the mouth, the sides of the throat, uvula and occasionally the epiglottis.
In some cases, snoring is more than just snoring. This condition is called obstructive sleep apnea. Those with obstructive sleep apnea don’t merely snore, but also have a blockage of breathing at night. This blockage can create problems with sleep and is linked to serious health concerns such as Type 2 diabetes and heart attacks. Approximately 3 percent of normal weight individuals and over 20 percent of obese individuals suffer from sleep apnea. If you or someone you know is waking up fatigued after a night of snoring, check with your doctor to rule out sleep apnea.
Common causes of snoring
Some people may naturally have the gift of snoring, but there are also several things that can increase the likelihood of snoring.
Being a man – That’s right, gentlemen, you are more likely to snore than the ladies out there. At least before women go through menopause. Experts believe this difference relates back to some of the physical differences between men and women.
Drinking alcohol – Anyone who’s had a drink or two in the evening (or whose partner has) can confirm this as a common cause of snoring. This is thanks to the muscle-relaxing effects of alcohol. Regular alcohol consumption can be a recipe for chronic snoring.
Obstructed airway – In many cases of chronic snoring, an obstructed airway may be to blame. When air does not have a free pathway in or out, it can cause the breath to become more turbulent and more likely to vibrate the soft tissues of the throat and mouth. Obstructed airways may be temporary or due to a difference in anatomy and causes can include: