Why am I snoring?
If your bed partner not-so-subtly leaves the room for a couple of nights each week because your habitual snoring is keeping him or her awake, it might relieve you to know that you are not alone. Many snorers feel helpless, and repeatedly wonder,”Why am I snoring?”
We answer that very question by informing you about the causes of snoring, the types of problems that may arise and what you can do about it.
What causes snoring
The factors behind snoring may seem vague, but they are usually not that original. The muscles in our body naturally relax as we drift off to sleep at night, and this includes our jaw and throat. For some people, entering a state of sleep may also cause the tongue and soft palate to collapse and the area at the back of the throat to narrow. When the airway is large the air passes thru the back of the throat quietly and without restriction.
Patients with smaller airways must work harder to breathe because of increased resistance. This causes the airway to suddenly begin to collapse. The air that normally passes quietly through a very comfortable space now has a much smaller passageway to go through. This tight airway restricts airflow and causes the soft tissue to collapse partially vibrate and make that unpleasant noise we refer to as snoring. The lungs are like a vacumn and when we breathe in they create a negative pressure that pulls the soft tissue together and like a reed musical instrument creat noises during inspiration.
Heavy snoring can result in blockages to the carotid arteries just from the vibrations of snoring. The carotids supply blood to the brain and can cause stroke when blockages are severe.
Additional snoring causes that may surprise you include:
- Gaining weight, even just ten pounds
- Having a large neck size
- Sleeping on your back
- Alcohol consumption too close to bedtime may cause the throat, jaw, tongue and palate over-relax, increasing the likelihood of snoring
- Extreme fatigue can cause a similar problem to consuming alcohol
- Obstructed nasal passages due to allergies, sinus infections or a deviated septum
- Lack of fluids in the body may cause the mucus in your nose and soft palate to dry out
- having teeth extracted for orthodontics
- Having a large tongue or a small mouth
When is snoring a problem
Snoring may prevent you and your loved ones from sleeping well, but other potential problems may include:
Accoring to JAMA, The Journal of the American Maedical Association snorers have a 300% increase in motor vehicle accidents.
- Ongoing relationship problems or a lack of intimacy
- Persistent irritability, difficulty staying awake or forgetfulness
- Difficulty focusing or being productive at work
- Sleep apnea, or another underlying medical condition
- Chronic muscle pain and disorders like Fibromyalgia.
These are all very good reasons to get a snoring diagnosis. Once you find out what is making you snore, then you can do something about it.
Evaluation and treatment
A thorough examination of your jaw, throat and nasal passages and sleep assessment are necessary prior to receiving any type of treatment. This may include a conversation with your sleep partner to learn other important details about your sleep patterns, including whether you stop breathing, choke or gasp while sleeping.
All of these tests are necessary to determine the root cause of your snoring and to rule out any serious medical conditions.
After your examination, your sleep specialist will discuss the results and devise a treatment plan that best suits your individual needs. Treatments may include a combination of dietary modifications, changes in sleep position, allergy treatments, oral appliances or even surgery. Finding out why you are snoring is not just about the disruptive noise keeping everyone awake at night, it is also about protecting your health and giving you the sleep that your body needs.
We take great interest in the education, diagnosis and treatment of our patients. Do not spend any more time being frustrated and wondering what you can do to change your circumstances. Download our free e-book today to learn more about the causes of snoring and how you can receive a snoring test.