Did you know that half of all people over the age of 60 snore regularly? And it’s not just a problem for older folks – 44 percent of adult men and 28 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 60 also snore on a regular basis, and virtually all adults snore occasionally.
For most, it’s simply an annoying habit, but for some, it may indicate an underlying health issue – such as sleep apnea – that, if left untreated, could lead to serious and life-threatening complications.
The best way to treat a snoring problem is to first determine its cause.
Why You May Be Snoring
Snoring occurs when your airways are partially blocked, and breathing is affected. The tissues at the top of your throat touch each other and vibrate, creating the sound we call snoring. Here’s what happens:
As you doze off and progress from light sleep to deep sleep, your soft palate (the muscles in the roof of your mouth), tongue, and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can also relax and partially block your airway and begin to vibrate. The narrower your airway becomes, the more forceful the airflow, increasing tissue vibration and causing your snoring to grow louder.
Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:
- The anatomy of your mouth. If you have a low, thick, soft palate, it can narrow your airway. This is a common problem among people who are overweight and have extra tissues in the back of their throats. Also, if you have an elongated uvula (the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate), it can also obstruct airflow, causing vibration to increase.
- Your alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol before bedtime can trigger snoring by relaxing your throat muscle and decreasing your natural ability to avoid airway obstruction.
- Chronic nasal congestion or a deviated nasal septum. Both issues can contribute to snoring.
- Sleep deprivation. Insufficient sleep can lead to greater throat relaxation.
- Your sleep position. Snoring is typically loudest and most frequently occurs when you sleep on your back and gravity affects the narrowing of the airway in your throat.
- Your gender. Men are more likely to snore and suffer from sleep apnea than women.
- Your family history. If snoring runs in the family, you may be prone to obstructive sleep apnea.
Possible Snoring Solutions
Just as there are many reasons why people snore, there are numerous solutions to this problem. If you or someone you love is a chronic snorer, here are some tips from the sleep doctors at MelioREM Sleep Clinic that might be helpful.
Often, sleepers can reduce or eliminate their snoring with a few simple adjustments. These include:
Sleeping on Your Side
The likelihood of snoring often depends on the position of your head when you are sleeping. You are more likely to snore if you sleep on your back and less likely to snore if you sleep on your side.
Wearing a Nasal Strip or Dilator
Over-the-counter internal and external nasal dilators are designed to improve airflow while you sleep and may reduce snoring. These are small, flexible strips that use tension to open nasal passages. A nasal strip attaches to the outside of your nose with adhesive and, as it tries to retain its shape, it pulls outward, lifts the skin on your nose, and opens your nasal passages. An internal nasal dilator, on the other hand, works from the inside to push your nostrils outward.
Using an Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece
These anti-snoring devices sit in your mouth overnight. There are two types of mouthpieces. A mandibular advancement device (MAD) is usually molded to fit your teeth and adjusted to move your lower jaw forward, thus helping to reduce snoring. A tongue retaining device (TRD) or tongue stabilizing device (TSD) also fits between your teeth but holds your tongue in place instead. A part of the mouthpiece also uses suction to prevent your tongue from falling back into your throat. In addition to reducing snoring, these devices can have a positive effect on mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
Making Certain Lifestyle Changes
If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to snore and develop obstructive sleep apnea. Research indicates that weight loss in those with a high body mass index can help correct these problems. A safe approach to weight loss is to simply stick to a healthy diet and incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Other anti-snoring lifestyle changes include quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol consumption before bedtime. Not only do both increase snoring but drinking before bed has been found to induce sleep apnea even in those who don’t have the disorder.
Trying Mouth Exercises
Known as oropharyngeal exercises, these mouth workouts involve repeatedly moving your tongue and parts of your mouth in ways that strengthen the muscles in your tongue, soft palate, and throat. According to one study, three months of mouth exercises resulted in a 59% reduction in snoring.
If these simple methods fail to do the trick and your snoring results from a physical issue, surgery may be the last resort option.
Relief From Snoring in Reno-Sparks, Nevada
Before trying any of these methods, however, you owe it to yourself to consult with an expert in sleep disorders, such as the professionals at MelioREM Sleep Clinic. We have been providing sleep medicine expertise and services to patients in Northern Nevada, and especially in Elko county, since 2016, and we can help you find the appropriate solution to your snoring problem once and for all.