Snoring is a problem universally experienced by people of all ages, irrespective of the existence of any external differences like lifestyle, diet, or other similar factors. What some of us may not yet be aware of, however, is that snoring is often caused by common sleep disorders.
Here is a list of these disorders:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects one’s breathing during sleep. In this, breathing is either briefly interrupted, for anywhere between 10 and 20 seconds at a stretch, which can be immensely dangerous, or it becomes extremely shallow.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, causing people to snore. If you or a loved one suffers from apnea, obstructive, central, or complex, seek medical attention, because this is a condition that needs to be treated—and soon.
- Narrowing of Throat During Sleep
This is one of the most common sleep-related disorders that cause people to snore. When sleeping, the muscles of the throat relax, narrowing the airway in the process. Added to this is the problem of the tongue falling backward, and partially or completely blocking the airway.
The narrower the airway becomes, the greater the vibrations caused in the throat while breathing, which inevitably translates into loud snoring.
This can be remedied, at least somewhat, by elevating your head four inches, or sleeping on your side.
- Sleep posture
Often the posture one assumes while sleeping can cause snoring. That is, sleeping on one’s back leads to snoring, which is a problem that may be reduced or completely done away with if the person switches to sleeping on their side. The reason for this is simpler than one would be inclined to think: gravity.
How is that the case?
Well, gravity causes the tongue to fall backward when one is asleep, which leads to a blocked airway. As a result, the vibrations caused in the throat while breathing become more pronounced, and lead to loud snoring sounds, disturbing the sleeper as well as those around him in the process.
- Nasal Problems That Become Aggravated During Sleep
Nasal problems of one kind or another may be common among snorers. Chronic nasal congestion, for instance, is a common cause of snoring in people. This congestion causes one’s nasal and throat passages to be partially blocked, which results in the person’s breathing translating into snoring during sleep.
Some people have a deviated septum, which may be described as a crooked partition between the nostrils. This partition naturally causes the airway to be irregular and uneven, thus leading a person with a deviated septum to snore.
- Irritation in the Membranes
Smokers quite often turn out to be snorers. This is because smoking, as a result of the inhalation of the toxic fume from cigarettes, often causes irritation in the membranes of the nose and throat. This, in turn, causes one’s airways to be blocked—and, as has been established by the list so far, partial or complete blockage of nasal and throat passageways results in snoring.
Needless to say, the more a person smokes, the more the chances they have of turning into a snorer.
- Interrupted or Irregular Breathing
Interrupted breathing, as we already know, causes people to snore. But this interrupted breathing can have several causes besides obstructive sleep apnea (mentioned above). One rather common cause for interrupted or irregular breathing is alcohol consumption.
Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat, causing one’s airways to become obstructed. Since the body’s natural defenses are lowered after alcohol consumption, it becomes harder to fight against this obstruction. This leads to snoring. Sedatives and sleeping pills may also have the same effect, so if the problem becomes too aggravated, consult your physician.
- Irregular Sleeping Patterns
People with irregular sleeping patterns or schedules that differ from one day to another may face an array of problems, including snoring. Irregular sleep cycles, that is cycles formed when people go to bed at varying times during the night or early morning, may find it difficult to fall asleep in the first place.
Even if they don’t, they often experience disturbed sleep. Disturbed sleep may, in turn, lead to several problems, including snoring.
Try to adjust your schedule so that you can fall asleep more or less at the same time every night.
If you saw logs through most of the night or have a partner who does, there is hope. Once the underlying cause is identified, it will be that much easier to treat.
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Photo of smoking woman courtesy of Flickr/Ben Raynal