Snoring is one of the most common sleep habits we hear about today. On television and in movies, the habit is often portrayed as comical or annoying. We can see this attitude about snoring translated into real-life situations. To perceive snoring as nothing more than a funny or frustrating situation could be a mistake. Snoring is no laughing matter. Here, we discuss why.
Why Do People Snore?
When we breathe, air goes through the nasal passages and through the back of the throat. All of the structures over which air passes are soft. This means that they can vibrate if there is any resistance to air flowing through the nostrils, back of the mouth, or throat. The area where the tongue, upper throat, soft palate, and uvula meet is prone to narrowing. This can happen for several reasons, including:
- A cold, sinus infection, or allergies.
- Large adenoids or tonsils, especially in children.
- Excess weight. When a person is overweight, the extra fat around the neck places pressure on the airway when they sleep.
- Muscle relaxation is given when we sleep. The use of sleeping pills, drugs, or alcohol can increase this, causing the airway to collapse.
- An obstruction in the airway may be created by a deviated septum or nasal polyps.
- A long uvula of soft palate extends the airway and increases the risk of snoring.
Chronic Snoring is Risky Business
We may laugh when we see someone snoring on the big screen. Not so much when the person who snores lies next to us every night. Snoring can be a concerning problem for many reasons. When a person snores loudly, they may keep their partner from getting a good night’s sleep. People who snore often don’t get adequate sleep themselves but, because snoring does not fully wake them up, they aren’t aware of the problem. However, chronic snoring can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, forgetfulness, and clumsiness.
The frustrations of snoring don’t end with daytime symptoms. Snoring may also be an indication of sleep apnea, a concerning sleep disorder. Sleep apnea is like snoring on steroids; it is snoring coupled with lapses in respiration. The snorer stops breathing for short periods. Without adequate treatment, sleep apnea and chronic snoring can result in serious health complications.