Snoring is a widespread phenomenon and an annoying one as well. The nocturnal noise level is often in no way inferior to that of a truck or a starting plane – especially for the snorer’s bedfellow, this is an annoying problem. The culprit for snoring is the throat muscles that slacken during sleep. Palate sails and throat suppositories then flutter with each breath, creating the disturbing snoring. Learn all the important things about snoring and what you can do about it.
Description – Snoring
With simple snoring, the airways narrow and thus generate an increased flow rate during inhalation and exhalation. In combination with the mouth and throat muscles that slacken during sleep, suppositories and palate sails begin to flutter. In the end, this fluttering creates such annoying nocturnal sawing.
A common cause of narrowed airways and the associated snoring are infections of the upper respiratory tract (e.g. cold or nasal hamstring). But also allergy sufferers have to deal with this problem, because a narrowing in the airways is a typical allergic reaction of the body.
While simple snoring usually does not cause respiratory failures, the so-called “obstructive sleep apnea syndrome” is different. Obstructive sleep apnea is basically coined with respiratory failures during sleep. Here, too, the airways narrow, but the reason is usually an anatomical peculiarity of the neck-nose-ear areas. These include, for example:
- enlarged throat almonds
- an enlarged tongue
- an enlarged palate suppository
- a lower jaw that is too small
- a curved nasal septum
These short breathers cause a wake-up reaction in the brain. However, the affected person does not wake up properly, but only breathes deeply (usually connected with a loud snoring).
Obstructive sleep apnea is particularly common in obese men of older age.
The situation is even different with central sleep apnea. There are also snoring noises and respiratory failures, but the reason is not a narrowed airway. This is due to a disturbance of the respiratory drive in the brain. The chest muscles and the diaphragm are inactive during sleep and the affected person breathes too little and not deep enough. There is a lack of oxygen, the brain is alerted and the aforementioned wake-up reaction occurs. Central sleep apnea is also particularly common in men and in older age. However, this form is much rarer.
What favours snoring?
Snoring is favored or strengthened by various factors and circumstances.
Excessive alcohol consumption, heavy meals in the evening, medication and sleeping back position are beneficial factors.
Evening alcohol consumption, heavy meals and medications not only increase your snoring, but also reduce your overall sleep quality. We’ve already published a post with tips & tricks for a better sleep. Also take a look in there, because often both can be optimized with simple tricks.
Sleep apnea – What are the risks?
In particular, obstructive sleep apnea carries certain risks. In order to be able to understand them better, one has to explain the whole topic in a little more detail. Unfortunately, this would go beyond the scope of this, which is why we have written our own article on it. You can take a look at it if you are interested. Nevertheless, we would like to briefly identify some of the risks here too.
Particularly dangerous is the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as:
- Heart muscle disease
- Heart attacks
As a result of the disturbed night sleep, sufferers also suffer from acute daytime sleepiness and are therefore often confronted with the risk of traffic accidents.
What helps against snoring?
Many different “snoring aids” are touted and advertised on the Internet. Whether snoring spray, snorting pacifier or snoring ring, there is no real proof of its effectiveness. In addition, this product often has very high prices.
In order to avoid a mis-purchase, we recommend you to rely on proven measures.
Tips & Tricks Against Snoring
You can also start optimizing your sleep and snoring without expensive items or a doctor. Often even the simplest tricks help.
- If you might be carrying a kilo or two too much with you, then the most effective way to get rid of those kilos is. With a bit of regular fitness you will not only feel better (I speak from experience), but you will also get rid of the excess fat in the neck area.
- You like to drink an after-hours beer? Or 2? Try to leave the beer out for a while after work and you will quickly notice that your snoring is getting better. Alcohol reduces breathability and thus favours your snoring.
- No more heavy meals in the evening. I know that for many, this may be a high price to pay in the evening for the juicy steak, the greasy pizza or a fresh burger. However, such heavy meals are far from conducive to your sleep quality and snoring. Treat yourself to something strong at lunchtime and try it in the evening with a slightly lighter meal.
- Sleep aids and antihistamines also promote your snoring behavior by reducing breathability. If possible, they should also be dispensed with.
- Last but not least, it’s your sleeping position. We clarified at the beginning that your mouth and throat muscles are sagging and creating the snoring noise. When these muscles slacken, they simply fall flat backwards. This “falling down behind” is favored by sleeping in a back position. So try to sleep in a side position or with a slightly raised torso.
You see that even with relatively little effort you can do something for your sleep. If, of course, nothing improves, there are other alternatives.
Some sufferers benefit from so-called “snoring rails”. These are individually adapted by your dentist. They push your lower jaw slightly forward and thus keep your airways open.
Sounds great, unfortunately there is also a small “but”. These rails are quite expensive and the effectiveness is different for everyone. Even predictions of effectiveness are difficult to make, which means as much as – you have to pay and test.
The Last Hope – Surgical Interventions
In some cases, only an operation by the ENT doctor will help your trust. I honestly can’t tell you much about the details of such interventions, as this is not really my specialty. I therefore recommend you to talk to your doctor. However, here are some of the most common “anti-snoring” interventions:
- Almond surgery
- Sinus surgery
- Nasal septal surgery
- Nasal shell surgery
- Soft gaumen plastics
- Stiffening of the soft gaume (implants)
- Operations on the bottom of the tongue
- Operations on the tongue leg
The sleep apnea therpaie
Have you been diagnosed with sleep apnea? Don’t worry, sleep apnea can now be treated well and quite easily. The most important thing here is to ensure the continuous supply of oxygen. As a rule, you will be prescribed a so-called CPAP therapy (CPAP = Continous Positive Airway Pressure ). This will give you air via a mask and prevent the slackened throat from closing.
There are different variants of CPAP therapy such as APAP (Automated Continous Positive Airway Pressure) or BI Positive Airway Pressure (BIPAP) therapy. But don’t worry, your doctor will find the right therapy for you.
Snoring: When should I go to the doctor?
Basically, snoring should always be examined by a doctor and clarified. A good point of contact is an ENT doctor or clinic with an area specializing in sleep and snoring. But if you want to do something in advance, you can follow the tips & tricks described above or track your sleep. With the help of sleep trackers,you can record your sleep and detect irregularities in your oxygen saturation the next morning. However, pay close attention to how and whether the tracker measures. Continuous measurement is important! If the tracker measures only once per minute, you are likely to miss out on oxygen. Oxygen saturation is generally a really important indicator in sleep analysis, but also there is a separate article on this – it is worth taking a look 😉
Also highly recommended is a visit to the doctor if you suffer from chronic fatigue, even though you sleep at night for a long time (6 to 8 hours). This, too, could be a sign of a health-threatening sleep apnea and should in any case be examined by a specialist.
I hope you’ve become a bit smarter about snoring now. Let me know in the comments whether the tips & tricks have helped you or which tricks you still know. Also topic requests are always welcome in the comments. 🙂