Relaxing is, in general, a good thing, but it’s possible to overdo it. During deep sleep, the muscles of your soft palate at the back of your throat relax, and depending on your anatomy and other factors like age and lifestyle, this relaxation could result in snoring.
Occasional snoring isn’t typically a problem, except perhaps for your spouse or others around you who may be disturbed by the noise. However, regular or loud snoring could indicate a sleep disorder based around breathing issues -- obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Alexis D. Furze MD, FACS specializes in treating snoring issues, from conservative treatment approaches to surgical solutions when necessary. OSA potentially leads to very severe health complications, so early treatment minimizes the impact of snoring on your life.
The source of vibration
The sound starts with a vibrating source moving air, whether it’s a guitar string, saxophone reed, or the soft tissue in the back of your mouth. In your body, the tissues at the rear of the soft palate, your tongue, and your throat will all relax as you fall asleep, constricting the airway through your throat.
For non-snorers, this isn’t a problem, since there’s still plenty of room for air to move. When these tissues come close together in relaxation, the resulting narrowing causes air to speed up through this restriction. The force created by this fast-moving air is strong enough to start vibrating relaxed tissue, creating the familiar sound of snoring. Tissue can relax sufficiently to block breathing entirely in some sleep positions. That’s when OSA becomes an issue.
For some people, snoring is inevitable because of the shape of their throats and the relative sizes of the tissues that relax during sleep. However, for most people, there is likely a combination of conditions that add up to problem snoring. Some of these include lifestyle factors that you may be able to control, and small changes to one or more could improve your breathing and your sleep.
Poor sleep habits
Sufficient sleep with a regular pattern is often difficult to achieve in a busy life, but chronic sleep deprivation can cause your throat to relax excessively when you do finally fall asleep. Working to build a consistent sleep routine may help reduce snoring.
One of the attractions of alcoholic beverages is the feeling of relaxation they can bring. Too close to bedtime, though, and that relaxation adds to tissue collapse in your throat. Moderating your alcohol intake may also reduce snoring.
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to snore or suffer from OSA. It’s possible that even a few extra pounds may make you more susceptible to snoring, another of the many health benefits you’ll enjoy when your body is at its optimum weight.
Many people tend to snore most when sleeping on their backs. It’s possible to “retrain” yourself to sleep predominantly on your side, so investigate these options if you’re a back sleeper.
There’s little you can do at home if snoring starts because you’re getting older or if you have structural problems in the nose and throat. Contact Dr. Furze and his team when home care doesn’t provide sufficient relief. You can contact the Newport Beach office at 949-205-7745. Snoring isn’t inevitable. Find out more today.