To a point, we all know what snoring is. We have probably all heard someone snore, at least at some time in our lives. A lot of us have probably lived with a snorer – and are, thus, likely very acquainted with exactly what that means.
The loud, growling, wheezing sounds that some people make while they sleep (the most common indicators of snoring) are hard to miss. They can range from loud to quiet – and from gentle to downright scary.
We all know that snoring is a nuisance – but a lot of people don’t realize that it can actually be a serious problem as well.
Here is what you need to know.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is technically caused by a vibration of the respiratory structures. The most common location for snoring to originate from is the soft palate in the back of the throat – though it can also come from the nasal passages or from other areas of the airway as well.
The most common cause of snoring is soft palate vibration.
When an individual goes to sleep, the muscles in their throat and airway tend to relax. If there is too much loose tissue, or not enough room for the air to flow through unhindered, the pressure might cause the loose tissue to ‘collapse in on itself’ and ‘vibrate.’ This vibration is what causes snoring.
Why Is Snoring Dangerous?
Snoring is a known factor in cases of sleep loss and sleep deprivation. To put it quite simply… snoring can contribute a lot to a lack of quality rest. But perhaps even more concerning than that is the fact that snoring can be an indicator of sleep apnea.
Not all cases of snoring can be accurately diagnosed as sleep apnea – but many cases of sleep apnea do exhibit snoring as a side effect.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea can include…
- Unexplained daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Periods where the individual seems to stop breathing while sleeping, followed by loud gasps
- Restless sleep
- Trouble concentrating during the day
- Daytime fatigue
- And the list goes on and on
Sleep apnea basically happens when the airway gets completely shut off during sleep. This leads to the sufferer ‘gasping’ for air as the brain registers that it is being deprived of oxygen. The individual is then prompted to ‘wake up’ enough to breathe in a gulp of air, but not so ‘awakened’ that they know that they have woken up.
But sleep is certainly disturbed – and therein lies the problem.
How Much Should You Worry About Your Snoring Problem?
Some people snore their whole lives without really noticing any problems – and in such cases, snoring probably won’t really hurt you. It is not the act itself that causes the damage. Rather, it is the subsequent loss of sleep that can be dangerous.
As humans, we need a good quality of rest to stay healthy, happy, active, and strong. And if our sleep gets too disturbed by snoring (either our own or that of someone else), then that is when we need to take action.
Sleep deprivation and sleep loss are no joke. Sleep apnea and the sleeping loss that it causes has been linked to a greater incidence of many different conditions and illnesses – including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
If you think that you might be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, then you should definitely talk to your physician. They might put you through a sleep study to figure out what the problem is.
But snoring can also be helped in a lot of ways – so don’t get too distraught if you are beginning to feel the effects of sleeplessness due to this very common sleeping disorder.
Lifestyle changes can often do a lot to help mitigate a snoring problem. Eating a healthier diet, getting more exercise, and losing weight are often the first steps to curbing the problem – but they are also not your only options. You have a myriad of choices for how to deal with snoring… so make sure that you take the leap, and be proactive in your search for a better night’s sleep.