Are you feeling sleep-deprived? You are not alone. According to a recent study, roughly 148 million American adults snore occasionally, and 82 million are habitual snorers. While many consider it a minor problem, snoring habits can indicate a more serious medical condition.
What Causes Snoring?
If your tongue, throat muscles, and soft palate relax too much when you sleep, they can droop backward and block the airway, vibrating together when you breathe. This is what causes the all too familiar sounds commonly associated with snoring. Snoring will be louder depending on the level of airway obstruction.
Several factors increase the risk of your snoring such as having bulky throat tissue or an enlarged soft palate, frequent nasal congestion, a deviated septum, nasal polyps, and enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
You are at a higher risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, and over the age of 40. Snoring tends to worsen with age. In some individuals, the airway becomes so obstructed that they develop sleep apnea. Depending on your family history, blood oxygen level, and sleep position, you could eventually find yourself experiencing high blood pressure and heart complications such as a heart attack or heart failure.
Tips for Quieting Your Snoring
If your snoring isn’t a complication of sleep apnea (link to sleep apnea page), implementing lifestyle changes may help eliminate the problem. Stop snoring with the help of these tips:
- Sleeping on your side instead of your back
- Losing weight
- Avoiding alcohol before bedtime
- Treating allergies
- Eliminating tobacco smoke
If lifestyle modifications do not solve the problem, oral appliances that reposition the lower jaw may help. Take our sleep quiz to gauge your level of sleep and snoring difficulties.