We’ve all seen it portrayed comically in cartoons when we were kids. The old man snoring so loudly, he wakes everyone in the house. In comedies, the visiting uncle has a snore so loud that even the pets suffer. As adults it’s a much more common and mostly non-comedic reality. 45 percent of adult’s snore, according to studies. And while half of those do experience it infrequently and harmlessly, the other half of log sawyers can have a much harsher time living with snoring and its repercussions. Snoring can have detrimental effects upon these sufferers waking lives.
Snoring, to get specific, is that loud snorting noise during sleep caused by a myriad of things that happen as we move into our lives as adults. Snoring has many different sources such as throat weakness causing the throat to close during sleep. It can start because of a incorrectly positioned jaw, often from tension in the jaw muscles. Smoking can also cause it. It can be brought about by obesity that has caused adipose tissue to gather in and around the throat. Sometimes an obstruction of the nasal passageway, such as congestion or swelling from allergies or a cold. Relaxants such as alcohol or other drugs like muscle relaxants can cause the muscles of the throat to relax to a point that the throat closes enough to snore. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue to drop into the back of your mouth blocking your breathing passageway. Some may have excess tissue in the uvula and soft palate, or tonsils, such as the 15 percent of children who experience snoring disturbances. With this wide variety it’s easy to see why it effects almost half of adults.
Despite its normal comedic portrayal, snoring can be a serious detriment to chronic sufferers and even those they love. Chronic snoring is disruptive of sleep, often waking those who do it or preventing them from reaching the levels of sleep required for restful sleep. This often results in sleep deprivation that is additive over time, causing irritability, drowsiness, lack of focus, decreased libido and in some cases significant psychological and social damage. This has also been found to have a correlation to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, to say nothing of marital frustrations as those sleeping next to them will, as well, often suffer from sleep deprivation from the noise. Over the long term, this can truly disrupt a person’s or family’s life. So, what’s there to be done about it?
While there is no one surefire treatment for snoring, there are many ways that can work. Some treatments a doctor may be able to help with and others can work from home and are quite easy to implement. Sometimes, a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine is used to control snoring by pumping a controlled stream of air into the air passage keeping air pressure in the throat. There are surgeries available, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty…. whew. What that means is widening the airway by removing tissues in the back of the throat. Theses can have some adverse side effects of their own, however. Some alternative methods involve working the muscles in the throat and mouth to increase muscle tone in the upper airway, as one medical practitioner notes that professional singers seldom snore.
What can you do tonight if you are suffering from chronic snoring? Aside from over the counter medicines, nasal strips and nasal sprays, you could also look at how you sleep. Back sleeping is one of the prime causes of snoring, since gravity pulling the tongue toward the back of the throat blocks the airway. One suggested option is to sleep on your side. To make side sleeping more comfortable, use pillows to bolster between your knees and one large pillow or two thinner ones to make sure your head isn’t strained sideways. Our Classic Gusset Down Pillow is a great option for sleeping on your side. Alternatively, if you must sleep on your back, prop your upper body with 2 or 3 firm down pillows so that it’s not completely horizontal. This will change the direction gravity pulls on your airway, sometimes preventing the tongue and soft palate from blocking the airway.
If you suffer from chronic snoring, you already understand how disruptive it can be, but using these techniques and talking to your doctor can mitigate these effects and hopefully help you sleep soundly. Or perhaps we should say, soundlessly. Sleep well.