What causes snoring?
We just want to explain the actual causes of snoring; the noise produced from snoring is a result of soft tissue vibrations in the mouth or nose as you inhale and exhale. As air rushes in and out as you breathe, parts of the nose or mouth vibrate, causing that distinctive snorting or rattling sound that may be waking you (and your partner!) during the night.
Some people snore every so often and don't make particularly loud sounds, whilst others may snore every night, and make noises loud enough to be heard in the next room.
Snoring noises can originate not just in the nose passageways, but the soft palate, tonsils, tongue and uvula. What happens is that the muscles in the mouth and neck relax as you sleep, which leads to the airways becoming smaller in size or even becoming blocked altogether. This results in you breathing faster and heavier. This mechanism isn't dissimilar to air escaping from a balloon – the sound produced can be louder when the opening is restricted. Snoring is often worse at particular times, including when you have swollen tonsils or a cold.
Snoring or sleep apnoea? Snoring can sometimes be a sign of another more serious sleep disorder, known as sleep apnoea. This occurs when the airways become partially or totally blocked for around 10 seconds during the night. It's difficult to self-diagnose, and so most people don't realise that they have it until they seek the help of a medical professional. Although, it can lead a person to wake up gasping or choking during the night. In fact, it's often their partner who tells them that they sometimes stop breathing whilst they are asleep.
Sleep apnoea is a great deal more serious and can affect your health long-term. Therefore, it's worth being assessed by a sleep specialist if you think you may have this condition.
Approximately a quarter of all people in England snore on a regular basis, and it can affect individuals of all ages. It's more common in adults aged between 40-60, but it can occur in children as well. Double the amount of men snore then women. If your snoring is having a negative impact on your life, including causing excessive tiredness it's time to do something about this.
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