The Anatomical Review(Snore)
From an anatomical standpoint, snoring is caused by a partially closed upper airway (the nose and throat). Everyone’s neck muscles relax during sleep, but sometimes they relax so much that the upper airway partly closes and becomes too narrow for enough air to travel through to the lungs. When this happens, it means that a person isn’t taking in enough oxygen for the body to perform its important functions.
The brain then sends a signal to the body to wake up to get the oxygen it needs, likely resulting in the person waking up throughout the night without realizing it.Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing.
Why do some people snore and some don’t?
Why do some people snore and others don’t? Those who have enlarged tonsils, an enlarged tongue or excess weight around the neck are more prone to snoring. And structural reasons like the shape of one’s nose or jaw can also cause snoring. The snoring sound itself is a result of the narrowing of a person’s airway, which causes a throat vibration and the snoring sound. No matter the reason, 40% of normal adults snore regularly,1 whether they realize it or not.
Since people snore for different reasons, it’s important to understand the causes behind your snoring. Once you understand why you snore, you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep—for both you and your partner.
Common causes of snoring
Age. As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases. While you can’t do anything about growing older, lifestyle changes, new bedtime routines, and throat exercises can all help to prevent snoring.
Being overweight or out of shape. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all it takes to end your snoring.
Body-buid Differences. Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. Again, while you have no control over your build or gender, you can control your snoring with the right lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises.
Nasal and sinus problems. Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
Alcohol, smoking, and medications. Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
Sleep posture. Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help.
Now lets look at different types of snoring pattern and what it may indicate
- Closed-mouth snoring
May indicate a problem with your tongue
- Open-mouth snoring
May be related to the tissues in your throat
- Snoring when sleeping on your back
Probably mild snoring—improved sleep habits and lifestyle changes may be effective cures
Bedtime remedies to help you stop snoring
Change your sleeping position. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specifically designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
Sleep on your side instead of your back. Try attaching a tennis ball to the back of a pajama top or T-shirt (you can sew a sock to the back of your top then put a tennis ball inside). If you roll over onto your back, the discomfort of the tennis ball will cause you to turn back onto your side. Alternatively, wedge a pillow stuffed with tennis balls behind your back. After a while, sleeping on your side will become a habit and you can dispense with the tennis balls.
Try an anti-snoring mouth appliance. These devices, which resemble an athlete’s mouth guard, help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw and/or your tongue forward during sleep. While a dentist-made appliance can be expensive, cheaper do-it-yourself kits are also available.
Clear nasal passages. If you have a stuffy nose, rinse sinuses with saline before bed. Using a neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips can also help you breathe more easily while sleeping. If you have allergies, reduce dust mites and pet dander in your bedroom or use an allergy medication.
Keep bedroom air moist. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help..
Practice these anti-snoring throat exercises
Studies show that by pronouncing certain vowel sounds and curling the tongue in specific ways, muscles in the upper respiratory tract are strengthened and therefore reduce snoring. The following exercises can help
Repeat each vowel (a-e-i-o-u) out loud for three minutes a few times a day.Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Slide your tongue backwards for three minutes a day.Close your mouth and purse your lips. Hold for 30 seconds.With your mouth open, move your jaw to the right and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.With your mouth open, contract the muscle at the back of your throat repeatedly for 30 seconds. Tip: Look in the mirror to see the uvula (“the hanging ball”) move up and down.For a more fun exercise, simply spend time singing. Singing can increase muscle control in the throat and soft palate, reducing snoring caused by lax muscles.
If uve tried all self-help solutions for snoring without success, don’t give up hope. There are medical options that could make all the difference. New advances in the treatment of snoring are being made all the time and devices are becoming more effective and comfortable.
Talk to your primary physician or to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT). Even if they recommend something that in the past was uncomfortable or didn’t work, that doesn’t mean the same will be true now.
For more questions and clarifications,kindly comment below