The sound we call snoring is created when muscles in the throat and mouth relax during sleep. This causes a narrowing of the airway to the lungs. As air is forced through this narrowed opening, it causes soft tissues in the back of the mouth and in the throat to vibrate, resulting in the sounds that so many bedmates find annoying.
More than half of all people snore at some point or another, and if the snores are softer and regular, the sleeper may not experience a significant decrease in their quality of sleep. Bedmates, on the other hand, often find a partner’s snoring to be disruptive, and they may be the ones who are loosing sleep.
There are a number of ways a person can reduce the likelihood or intensity of snoring through lifestyle changes. Sleeping on the side rather than the back reduces the tendency of soft tissues to close agains the back of the throat. Avoiding alcohol or muscle-relaxing drugs prior to sleep will also help keep throat tissues from loosing muscle tone. Weight loss will often mitigate snoring, as it reduces the amount of fatty tissue in the throat and neck area.
Dental sleep medicine can also provide snoring therapies in the form of oral appliances. Resembling a sports mouthguard, these appliances are worn during sleep, and help hold the mouth and tongue in a position that reduces the tendency to snore.
When snoring becomes louder and more irregular, it is more likely to degrade sleep quality, and may also be a symptom of a serious condition known as sleep apnea. If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, you should consult with a sleep medicine professional such as Dr. Lalji, who can discuss diagnosis and treatment options.