Snoring is typically a persistent, involuntary occurrence that is difficult to address using common remedies. According to the Sleep Research Society, this source of noise pollution is frequently associated with an underlying sleep condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Sadly, OSA is linked to an increased risk of many chronic ailments, including heart disease. Early diagnosis can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
For some, the rise in snoring intensity is gradual, while others start snoring immediately after falling asleep. People in the second category often wonder, “what does it mean if you start snoring immediately after falling asleep?”
This article will try to answer this question. But if you notice yourself snoring, it’s a good idea to get a sleep test done. A sleep test can be done either at a facility or at home and can identify a myriad of sleep disorders – ultimately leading to better sleep once treated.
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is characterized by loud noises made during sleep as a result of irregular and obstructed airflow through the airway passages. When air flows through the narrowed passage, it causes the tongue, uvula, and soft palate to vibrate and produce sound.
Snoring does not necessarily mean you have an underlying illness. It can be an occasional occurrence or chronic. Snoring can be classified as an independent condition or a consequence of sleep apnea. The former is known as primary snoring or non-apnoeic snoring, while the latter is called secondary snoring. Individuals who snore often have disrupted sleep, which has negative consequences on their health.
Snoring can be a real nuisance for a partner and has the potential to cause relationship troubles. If you snore loudly and consistently, it is important to seek medical help for snoring as it could be a sign of an undiagnosed health condition such as OSA.
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and How Does It Relate to Snoring?
OSA is a condition of disrupted breathing that clinically manifests as snoring. It is highly prevalent and has a global prevalence ranging from 9% to 38%, with men being more prone to it than women.
The narrowing of the upper airway passage during sleep is responsible for the occurrence of sleep apnea. Those who suffer from sleep apnea often wake up multiple times throughout the night in order to catch their breath.
In general, all your body muscles relax during sleep. However, relaxation of the oronasal muscles can collapse the breathing pathways causing breathing difficulty.
The latest studies and systematic reviews suggest that OSA is caused by the gradual weakening of oral muscles and changes in the soft palate and uvula that narrow the airway passage. Chronic snorers with OSA also have daytime symptoms, including excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased cognitive function, and work performance.
Other Factors That Cause Snoring
Various other factors can contribute to snoring, including:
Cross-sectional surveys reveal a strong link between overweight/ obese individuals and sleep-related breathing disorders like snoring. Obese people have a higher prevalence of snoring due to increased neck fat, which places added pressure on the upper airways. As the air forces itself to pass through the narrowed airway as you breathe, it results in loud snoring sounds.
Per a 2022 study, obesity is an essential factor in determining the intensity of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Aging is an inevitable process characterized by numerous changes in the body. Your muscles start to lose their strength as they grow old. Therefore, old individuals having weak palatal muscles are more prone to snoring during sleep.
A polysomnographic study reveals that older people snore more (during non-rapid eye movement sleep, i.e., N2 sleep).
Individuals with chronic sinusitis often have airways filled with mucus and sputum. This blockage can hinder normal airflow, leading to air hunger and snoring. Even a stuffy nose can inhibit inhalation, making you snore.
Multiple anatomical issues can cause snoring. Large adenoids and tonsils can contribute to snoring. A deviated nasal septum (DNS) or the presence of nasal polyps can also make you snore. Studies show that DNS is highly prevalent in adults and is linked to rhinitis and snoring.
Alcoholism increases the severity of snoring by relaxing the throat muscles and makes you more susceptible to developing OSA.
Research suggests that alcohol consumption disrupts sleep architecture leading to low oxygen saturation.
Lying on your back makes you more prone to snoring as it compresses the airways.
Helpful Tips That Can Help With Snoring
The following are some helpful tips for snoring:
Open Nasal Passages
A warm shower before bed, using a neti pot, or wearing a nasal strip can clear and open your nasal passages and let air pass freely without interruption.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
Sleep deprivation can be a significant cause of snoring. So, giving attention to your sleep hygiene can aid in improving sleep quality. Dimming the lights, setting the ideal temperature of the room, and avoiding electronic device use before bedtime can help lower your snorts by giving you a good night’s rest.
According to a study, sleep hygiene behaviors help reduce sleeping disorders in pregnant women.
Change Sleeping Posture
Changing your sleeping posture can help with OSA symptoms. Research shows that changing the sleeping position from supine to lateral improves positional OSA (frequency and intensity of snoring).
Elevating the head, you can observe significant changes in objective and subjective snoring severity. According to a polysomnography study, a change in pillow leads to significant reductions in the snoring index.
Quit Unhealthy Habits
Alcohol consumption and drug addiction are linked to OSA symptoms. Thus, limiting the intake of alcohol and giving up drugs can help with snoring.
Active and passive smoking is also a significant risk factor for breathing issues and habitual smoking snoring, rendering it crucial to quit to prevent snoring and other serious health issues.
Regular exercise helps reduce snoring in multiple ways. Firstly it strengthens the muscles, making them resistant to collapse during sleep. The second effect of exercise is that it leads to weight loss. People with OSA have reported improvement in snoring intensity after losing weight.