A certain amount of snoring is natural, and there isn’t a healthy human being alive who doesn’t snore – even for a few seconds – at some point in a year of sleeping.
However, there are individuals who are either incessant snorers, loud snorers, or both. For the snoring person, and for those around them – especially someone sharing a bed – it can be the cause of sleep loss, or disturbed sleep. Good sleep is one of the most important keys to good health. If snoring is affecting your sleep, or that of your partner, action needs to be taken.
When do we snore?
We’ve all done it for comic effect – that snoring noise. Maybe we did it at the back of the class, or used it to indicate our displeasure at what someone was saying. We use it to indicate deep sleep. And it’s normally during deep sleep that snoring does take place. It’s one of the reasons that people who are loud and annoying snorers are often unaware of their problem – which makes it very hard for them to appreciate the problems it can cause others. To illustrate this point, one of the cures for snoring is to nudge the person in bed next to you to get them to a shallower state of sleep where they don’t snore.
What causes snoring?
All snoring is caused by the vibration of one piece of your airway against another. Most often, it is the uvula against the soft palate. The uvula is the drop-shaped thing that vibrates madly at the back of cartoon characters’ mouths when they scream (the tonsils are something else entirely). The soft palate is just in front of that. However, there are other causes:
- The tongue blocking the back of the mouth, and vibrating as air flows around it – particularly if you sleep on your back, or with your mouth open
- Restricted or obstructed throat – can be caused by excess fat around the throat, or by damaged, inflamed or diseased tissue
- Restricted or obstructed nasal passage – inflamed or diseased tissue, or being born with a small or misshapen nasal passage
- Jaw being in the wrong position, causing obstruction of airways
- Over-relaxation of throat muscles caused by alcohol or drugs
- Tissues at the tops of airways touching each other
- Obstructive sleep apnoea, which describes the obstruction of the upper airway – the tissue that separates the end of the nose cavity and the top of throat blocks the airway. Potentially, this is a serious medical condition. The sufferer may not be able to breath for periods of 20 to 40 seconds at a time. A major symptom is extreme daytime tiredness. This condition is associated with a greatly increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
The fact that there are so many different causes means that each individual may have to find their own way to a cure for snoring.
Stage one diagnosis of your snoring problem
The first thing to do is to be honest with yourself – is there any unhealthy activity in your life that might be contributing to the snoring problem? For example:
- Are you drinking too much alcohol in the evenings? If you’re having to use alcohol to help get to sleep then you may be ‘self-medicating’ because you’re suffering from stress. Instead of alcohol, you could try a herbal remedy. If a herbal remedy doesn’t work, see a physician.
- Are you carrying too much weight? As we get older it’s easy to put on weight without noticing. Lose weight and your snoring could well be cured.
- Is your partner forcing you into an uncomfortable or unnatural position when you’re trying to sleep?
- Are you using too many pillows? If you’re using two pillows that might force you onto your back during sleep. There are people – myself included – who don’t sleep with pillows at all.
Talk with your partner. How long has your snoring been a problem? If you haven’t always had a problem, then you might be able to think back and work out what changed in your life to make you snore. Was it something like weight-gain, alcohol consumption, prescription medication for an unrelated condition, or some other lifestyle change?
As a first step, try to take action by losing weight, cutting down your alcohol consumption, changing your sleeping position, or changing the amount or type of pillow you use. You could have a relatively fast, cheap and easy cure for your condition.
If you can’t find anything obvious, then there are a great many products and therapies which can provide relief from your snoring. A few examples are:
- Anti-snoring pillows
- Anti-snoring shirts
- Herbal pills and remedies to alleviate snoring
- Special mouthpieces to keep airways open which you can view here and here
You may find that one of these, or a combination of two or more, will prevent you from snoring. This website aims to help guide you through the range of cures available.