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What is Snoring?

Snoring is not just the annoying sound that you and/or your bed partner make. It is the sound of obstructed breathing while you sleep. It could be harmless, or it could be a sign of a more serious medical condition, Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Snoring occurs when the muscles in the throat and tongue relax enough to cause a narrowing of the airway. As the air rushes by, it creates a vibration of the uvula and soft tissues creating the typical snoring sound.

At least 50 % of adults snore on occasion and 30% snore on a nightly basis. Men are two times more likely to snore than women. Snoring can be increased with increasing weight as well as with age.

Snoring can strain your relationship with your bed partner. He or she can’t get a proper nights rest. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, muddled thinking, illness, poor performance at work and drowsy driving. When snoring disturbs a bed partner, he or she may move to a separate bedroom. A recent study pointed out that 80% of snoring couples slept apart.

Studies have shown that loud snoring, even without obstructive sleep apnea, can have devastating consequences on your health. Loud snorers have a 40% greater chance of having high blood pressure, 34% greater chance of having a heart attack and 67% greater chance of having a stroke than those who do not snore. 1

Snoring is a warning sign

Snoring is a warning sign that sleep apnea may be present. Treating the symptoms of snoring can be advantageous to your sleep partner. However, it can be very dangerous to “cover up” or treat the sound of snoring without knowing what the underlying cause is. This is why it is critical to undergo a sleep study performed by a certified sleep physician. Some over the counter snoring remedies may have short-term success by reducing the sound of snoring, but they can have many side effects such as TMJ dysfunction/pain or unwanted changes to your teeth, bite and soft tissue. If you treat the snoring without knowing if sleep apnea is the true cause, or if you ignore the true cause, the consequences could be deadly.

Suggestions for managing your snoring

  • Do not sleep on your back
  • Weight reduction
  • Do not drink alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Raise the head of the bed at least 4 inches
  • Avoid a heavy meal within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise will improve your health
  • Avoid muscle-relaxing drugs
  • Use nasal strips or nasal dilators to increase airflow
  • Ask your dentist about oral appliances to stop snoring
  • If snoring is severe, you should be evaluated by a sleep physician for sleep disordered breathing

1 American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, March 1). Snoring Linked To Cardiovascular Disease, Increased Health-care Utilization.

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