What is snoring?
During sleep, the soft tissues, muscles in your tongue and throat relax, causing your airway to become smaller. If your airway becomes small enough, the rapidly moving air in a narrow airway causes the soft tissues of the throat (tonsils, soft palate and uvula) to vibrate when you inhale and exhale. This vibration is the sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring.
A narrow airway in snorers could also be due to large tonsils, a long soft palate or uvula, a large tongue that relaxes too much during sleep and in overweight people, excess flabby tissue.
How common is snoring?
Snoring is common, with approximately 40% of men and 30% of women affected. Snoring occurs in all age groups but is most common in the middle aged population. In children, large tonsils and adenoids are a common cause of snoring.
What contributes to snoring?
- Alcohol, sedative and tranquiliser use
- Nasal congestion
- Breathing through the mouth
- Sleeping on your back
- Allergies and hay fever
- Abnormality of the upper airway or orofacial structures
How serious is snoring?
While snoring can be harmless in the short-term, it can also develop into or be a symptom of a more serious medical condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
Snoring is also a major social problem for families. Snoring deprives both the sufferer and their bed partner of good sleep, which has consequences for daytime functioning. A snoring partner may be forced to sleep in a separate room.