What Causes the Snoring-and How to Effectively Get Rid of It

Nearly everyone snores at some point in their life, but it becomes more common as we age. Our muscles become increasingly flabby and loose, so they are easier triggered into vibration.

What Causes the Snoring Sound?

What Causes the Snoring-and How to Get Rid of It

Snoring is produced by vibration of various soft tissues in the airways. Vibrations are caused by the air that tries to pass through a narrower passage than when we are awake. Similarly as the air passing your narrowed lips make a sound when you whistle, or when you press the end of the watering hose and the water bursts through the narrow opening, instead of simply flawing. But, why is it so at night, specifically when we fall asleep?

As our whole body, the airway muscles also relax at sleep, so they make the pathway for the air just slightly tighter. If these muscles are weakened and too relaxed and there is an additional airway obstruction, partial of full, snoring will occur as air can’t freely flaw, pressured, it will irritate the soft tissues and cause them to vibrate. This will make the sound.

Is the Throat Always the Culprit? When the Causes of Snoring Are More Serious…

 No. As a matter of fact, there are four different places when the vibration occurs, and according to these, snoring is classified as:

-Nasal snoring  will happen if the passages are not free, but somehow blocked. It can be because a simple cold, and your nose is stuffed, or because an allergy. It can be a deviated septum, as in my husband’s nose, for years, before he went “under the knife”. He still snores, though 😉  Anyway, the air will try to find its way and go through that little pathway that’s still free. Causing the sound we all dislike.

-A mouth snorer also has blocked nasal air passages, but, more likely, completely, so he will be unable to use his nose, but will breathe through his open mouth.  This will cause the vibration of soft tissues in the mouth and the sound. Sometimes, enlarged tonsils are also involved.

Tongue snoring has more to do with muscles, as the tongue is too relaxed-that much that they fall back and block the airflow to the lungs.  It will happen when we are sleeping on our back and will produce mostly periodical, various high pitched sounds.

-The worst type, either for the listener, or for yourself is the throat snoring. For the listener, as this one is the loudest one and for you because it is the most alarming one. The tissues and the muscles of the throat are too relaxed and the walls of the throat can “collapse” causing an obstruction for the air.

What Causes the Snoring-and How to Get Rid of ItThroat snoring is associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which can be a serious threat to your health. The breathing during sleep stops for 10 or even more seconds, and you suddenly wake up, gasping for air. Some might even be choking, but you always wake up.

It happens because your brain senses the excessive carbon dioxide build-up due to the decreased oxygen intake and it wakes you up to reopen your airway. It can occur several times during the night, in any position of the body, but the loudest sounds are produced lying on back.

Besides the possible night time sweating, the one sign that you can’t miss is the very loud sound and the periods of non-breathing during the sleep (which will notice your partner, as you most likely won’t be aware of it)

With this one, however,  the problems do not stop at snoring, or in the morning. An OSA sufferer will have a sore throat and dry mouth in the morning, be excessively sleepy at day, have morning headaches, high blood pressure and difficulties to concentrate.

If all the other types are mostly annoying, but not really dangerous, medical attention is essential with this type of snoring, as it may lead even to heart attack, if not treated.

 

This narrowing, or obstruction of airways may be a result of too relaxed tissues, of excess fat around the neck that will pressure the throat tissues, of a layer of mucus in case of allergy or cold, of an  uvula which is lowered or too long, covering the airways to the lungs.

Snoring can damages the muscles which will lead to their weakening causing so more airway narrowing. It is easy to see how snoring will worsen, unless treated.

Also, a person may produce a variety of sounds, as more than one area may be involved in airflow obstruction.

According to American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 4% of men and 2% of women have obstructive sleep apnea, and millions more remain undiagnosed.

Additional Causes of Snoring in Women

Men DO snore more than women. It doesn’t mean, however, that women don’t snore. Men are simply born with narrower pathways for air and therefore more susceptible to snoring. “About 40 percent of adult men and 24 percent of adult women are habitual snorers”

Menopause is the gamechanger, as it brings more masculine characteristics into women’s bodies. Their muscles also diminish, so they are more likely to be excessively relaxed and cause snoring. Another reason is putting on some weight, which means more pressure on soft tissues.

Any Stop-Snoring Home Remedies?

Changes in some habits may bring the so desired silence into your bedroom.

-watch your diet, at least several hours before you go to bed. Try limiting your evening meals to smaller ones and avoid diary products, as these can enhance snoring, by adding a thin film of mucus to the tissue of the throat, which will cause irritation.

-avoid any alcohol before bed, as it will relax the muscles that support the airways to be open.

-if you snore on your back, try side sleeping. If you turn back in your sleep, try a full body pillow which won’t allow you to land on your back. There are recommendations of sawing a tennis ball onto the back of your pyjama to make lying on back uncomfortable, but, why making yourself uncomfortable, if you can do it in a comfortable way.

What Causes the Snoring-and How to Get Rid of It

-lose weight if you are overweight, as even a small amount of fat can produce additional pressure on your airways.

-check with your doctor whether you take a medication that increase muscle relaxation, which is the basic cause of snoring

-do not take sleeping pills and sedatives, they will only worsen the problem

-inhale essential oils, like eucalyptus and peppermint to break up the mucus if formed in your throat or your sinuses.

-use a neti pot to clear you nasal pathways. Even it is a bit tricky the first time, you can quickly get the hang of it and it provides wonderfully clean airways in the nose.

-stop smoking-tobacco smoke is one of the irritants of the mucous membranes in the throat, leading to swelling of the throat, thus narrowing the airway.

Tobacco smoke irritates mucous membranes, so your throat swells, narrowing the airway. Smokers also have more problems with nasal congestion. That goes for electronic cigarettes, too.

-exercise regularly-even if you do exercises for your other parts of body, the regular exercise will in time strengthen your neck and throat muscles, as well, reducing the risks of snoring.

-do specific throat and tongue exercises, even sing, to strengthen these specific muscles and prevent them from excessive relaxing. You can find a great description and explanation of the exercises here. They are simple and anyone can do them.

Any Devices to Stop Snoring?

-a humidifier, if the air in your space is dry. A dry air will also dry out your nose and throat, which will trigger snoring, so, it is always a good idea to humidify the air in the space you are, not only at night, but during the day, as well. A lubricated throat will less likely vibrate to cause sound.

-little strips for nose (external nasal dilators) are designed to pull your nostrils open, preventing a collapse and increasing the airflow. These will work, if your snoring is caused by a nasal congestion, like when you have a cold or allergies

-A neti pot can also help, rinsing out the nasal passages with a salt-water solution.

-Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is said to be for now the best we have for sleep apnea. This CPAP device is made as a mask, which should be worn over the nose and face during sleep. The mask has a long flexible pipe which is connected to a pump. This will constantly push air into the nasal passages, thus keeping the airway open. Some people find it uncomfortable, however, and some are uncomfortable being seen with it by their partner.

-In someone with sleep apnea who either doesn’t respond to or doesn’t tolerate treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a type of mouthguard, like SnoreMD  that moves the lower jaw a bit forward, can be helpful.

-sometimes, a doctor will advise a surgery, either to remove a deviated septum, or other nasal obstruction, or soft palate surgery, to stiffen the soft palate and thus limit the vibration that would cause snoring.

Sleeping With a Snorer, or Being the Snorer to Sleep With…

What Causes the Snoring-and How to Get Rid of It

I used to find really helpful to go to bed before my husband does, as this way I mostly fell asleep by the time he started snoring. Since his deviated septum having been corrected, he did snore significantly less, but, he still did. As he tends to snore more when on his back, we use a full body pillow, to keep him on his side (I don’t like the ball-on-the-back idea), and it does help.

Since we aged a bit, we now faced a new problem, as apparently I started to snore, which I was not aware of at all.

He, on the other hand, did not want to hurt my feelings, he says, so did not tell me up to recently. He tried to move me in my sleep, wake me just a bit, to stop me from snoring, even shaked me a few times, he said, but I usually started all over again.

As there were no signs of possible improvement, he had no choice, but to sat with me with our usual cup of coffee after breakfast (he makes the best coffee ever), and talk to me about it.

He did it almost apologizing that he brings it up and tried very hard so I do understand he is not attacking me, has no problems with me, but with the snoring that keeps him awake. So, let’s find out what we can do, he suggested.

What to Do, When You Find Out You Are the One Who Snores?

Even after such a loving and caring approach, I was, well, shocked, as a minimum. If I’ll be honest, besides feeling deeply ashamed, I also felt a little bit hurt, as well.  As we were in the reversed situation some years ago, I could imagine what he’s been through and it kind of made me feel guilty additionally.

Still, when I “recovered” from the initial shock, I started a thorough search. That’s how I found the exercises and started doing them, especially the breathing through nose, as we realized that my snoring comes from my sinus problems.

I do have a neti pot, which I’m very fond of, as I couldn’t imagine before that you can have so cleared airways, before I started using it 2-3 times a week.

The result? We do sleep much better, with less snoring-that much less, than we do not wake each other up with it, at all.

Did I believe my husband when he said I don’t snore anymore? Well, I did, with gratitude, but, just in case, I still check it with the Sleep Cycle application (there are many more you can choose from). It is free for basic use, which is quite enough to determine how you sleep and whether you snore or not.

Final Thoughts

Snoring is not only annoying, whether you are the listener or the snorer, but it is not always harmless for one’s health. If you tried out everything you can and it did not work, or if you have symptoms as in obstructive sleep apnea, as described above, pay a visit to your doctor. Both you and your partner deserve a good, healthy night of sleep, every night.

Do you snore? Or your partner? Do you know someone who used to snore but managed to decrease it to a bearable level? What are your thoughts on snoring? If your partner were  snoring, what would you do? And what if you were? Let me know in the comments below. I’ll appreciate it and I’m sure someone will learn from your words.

And, as always, feel free to reach out should you have questions and I’ll be happy to give you an answer to the best of my knowledge.

With Love,

Kerryanne

 

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16 Comments

  1. Wow, this is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while. Who knew that there was so much information just about snoring. When I sleep at my grandparent’s house, my grandfather’s snore is so oud that I can hear it from another room. It makes sense that it’s so loud because he s quite old. However, after reading this, I’m sure that its throat snoring. I’ll definitely send this to him. Thanks for sharing!

    • I’m really glad you found it interesting, Aminah. Yes, it might be that your grandfather has weak throat muscles and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check on it. If it is an OSA, it might greatly threaten his health, even if he is quite old.
      How does your grandmother cope with it? You might want to check this review on an affordable device that can help.
      Thank you for your comment and all the best!
      Kerryanne

  2. Hi Kerryanne,

    Thank you for the informative article! I normally don’t snore, but I know that I do when I have a cold and when I’ve been drinking. My boyfriend, however, snores very consistently, and I worry it might be the sleep apnea one, because I have witnessed his breathing stop occasionally. Hopefully I can convince him to get it checked out!

    • Hi Jade, do check his sleeping, as there really are chances it is an OSA. There are sleep studies available, or you can download a simple sleep application which will determine after a few nights the patterns of his sleeping and awake time during night. It will also show the snoring times, so you will know if you need to see a doctor.
      All the best,
      Kerryanne

  3. My mother is a snorer and she has to use a machine to help her breathe while she is sleeping. I recently noticed myself snoring at times because I wake up abruptly from hearing myself and my throat would be sore. Learning more about this subject has enlightened me on how snoring works and understanding it at little better. I will be sure to do more throat exercises as well as exercise more in general. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thank you for being here Shyla and sharing your experiences. So your Mom has a CPAP machine? It sure can help to regulate the sleep in those with OSA. As snoring tends to run in families, your recently discovered snoring might be a warning sign, so it is really wise if you give the exercise a try.
      All the best,
      Kerryanne.

  4. Janet

    Hi Kerryanne. Thank you for your informative article. This is interesting to learn. My dad has snoring problem too for many years. I suspect my dad breath through his mouth when sleep because his mouth is always wide open when sleep. He is an old man already so he also don’t bother to solve his problem. For I myself as I age, I realise once a long while I will snore too if I’m very tired before bed. Somehow I will know if I snore because I will wake up and then I will adjust my position abit before sleep again.

    • Hi Janet, thank you for sharing your experiences. If your Dad’s snoring does not bother anyone, nor him, you might be right. Although it still could be an OSA. Even though he is old, as you say, you might want to check if he has other symptoms, like tiredness, headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness…just in case.
      As for you, it sounds like many people who snore only when overly tired, as the muscles tend to relax more than usually. Lucky you.
      All the best,
      Kerryanne

  5. Hi Kerry,

    I have learned a great deal about snoring and how to stop it from your article.
    When I was little, I could hear my Dad’s snore from my room. I didn’t know how my Mom could stand it. No wonder, he was a heavy smoker and a little overweight back then. Now that he has stopped smoking for almost a decade and lose some weight by doing better lifestyles (no alcohol, eat healthily, drink more water, walk around the complex as a regular exercise, etc), he doesn’t snore anymore. So I can see your tips here work for him. They should work for other people too. 🙂

    • Hi Ferra, well, yes, we do stand some things so we do not hurt someone we love, as your Mom probably did. Our health is directly influenced by our lifestyle and our bodies “reward” us for taking a good care of them, ceasing the issues-so happens it with snoring, as well. I’m glad to hear it happened with your Dad as well, as I’m sure the nights are much more relaxing now for both of them.
      Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  6. Chuck

    Snoring is always something you need to get sorted or at least checked out! But you don’t even have to snore audbily for it to be a problem. I was never a snorer, or at least I thought so, but I was always tired in the morning. I had a speed study done and it turned out that not only was I snoring for half the night, I was having obstructive sleep apnea! Fortunately it wasn’t severe so the treatment was a mouth piece that’s designed to keep the jaw open a bit. So always get your snoring checked out, even if you don’t snore lol!

    • Hi Chuck, a very sound advice! Especially if someone lives alone, so there’s no one who could “complain”. Unfortunately, people with obstructive sleep apnea are almost never aware of the brief awakenings and air grasps. So, yes a sleep study is something your doctor should suggest if you are more tired after sleep, than before, have headaches, feel constantly tired, very sleepy at day time, you lack of concentration…
      Many people can’t stand the CPAP machine, so a mouthpiece is a very good solution.
      Thank you very much for sharing your experience, I’m sure it will help other readers, as well.

  7. Pablo

    Not so long ago, I had one of those sleeping apneas, and it was scary. As a middle-aged man I am to pay attention to these signs and investigate.
    I went to a check-up and all was good, but I have been highlighted that I am snoring quite often recently.
    So I am glad I came across this article searching for some answers, I got them all in here I guess. I will try your recommendations and the exercises too.
    Thank you for the information you share in here!

    • You are welcome, Pablo! I can imagine if you were actually aware of grasping for air in the middle of the night how scary it might have been! Also, a very strong motivation to do something about it right away.
      I’m glad you found some usable advice in this article, and I hope you will be persistent on exercises. They may feel silly at the first time, but keep doing them and it will surely improve your sleeping and your overall health as a result.
      Thank you for sharing your experience wit us.
      All the best,
      Kerryanne

  8. Hi Kerryanne,

    Thanks for highly and interesting and kind of amusing post on snoring. I was engaged reader as soon as I saw the first image on your post 😉
    I liked reading your personal story too. It’s really interesting to know what actually causes the snores and what we can do to manage or even overcome snoring or manage your partner’s snoring!

    Thank you for sharing it with us all.

    • Oh, yes, as soon as I saw it, I knew I want to include it, so my readers have a reason to smile. Plus, somehow there’s this general opinion that snoring deserves mocking. Until it’s not you who does it, of course. 😉
      I’m pleased that you liked the whole story and found it interesting.
      Thank you for your comment.
      All the best,
      Kerryanne

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