So many people snore, everyone thinks it's normal.


Most people think that snoring is just what some people do. However sleeping should be a silent activity. Snoring is not natural and unless you are suffering from a cold or congestion, you should breathe effortlessly when you are awake or asleep.


Yet night after night, 1 in 3 adults snore on a regular basis and up to 50% snore occasionally.


This comes out to 80 million regularly snoring adults in the United States.


Snoring also occurs in children. Studies have shown that up to 7% of children snore habitually and 20% of children snore occasionally.


What causes snoring?

Snoring may be more than a nuisance. The sound you hear when someone snores is a vibration caused by an obstruction of the airway! Not good! The snoring sound comes from the uvula, the back of the tongue or the other soft tissues of the throat flapping as air passes over them when you breathe during sleep.


This obstruction causes a decrease of air flow to the lungs, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain.


Airway blockage is the root cause of all snoring problems.


Why can snoring be dangerous?

Snoring can be indicative of a more serious health problem called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that can increase your risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and stroke. Sleep apnea is defined as a cessation of breathing for 10 seconds or more, occurring more than 4 times per hour during sleep.


It is usually characterized by loud snoring sounds interrupted by periods of silence in which no air passes into the lungs. This lack of oxygen and increase in carbon dioxide will alert the person to partially awaken, forcing the airway to open with a loud gasp. This harmful pattern can occur dozens of times per hour, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness and feelings of unrefreshed sleep upon awakening.


How to stop snoring

Just because you snore or have sleep apnea doesn’t mean you have to live with it. There are many ways to get rid of snoring or manage OSA. Getting better sleep starts with having an understanding of what sleep is, why we need it, and what the options are for feeling better and getting a quiet night’s sleep.


There are multiple treatment options available for snoring. Before initiating any treatment, it is important to rule out any associated sleep disorders that may be the cause of the snoring.


Does your partner snore?

Did you know that up to 59% of people report that their partner snores in bed?


In addition, 23% of couples sleep in separate beds, a trend increasingly dubbed “sleep divorce”.


Obstructive sleep apnea can cause other problems in the bedroom as well. A common symptom of sleep apnea is erectile dysfunction and a low libido or sex drive. But not all is lost, as it is possible to bring sexy back by managing sleep apnea and snoring.


If you or someone you love snores, a consultation with a health care provider educated in sleep breathing disorders can provide an evaluation to determine if it’s just snoring or a symptom of more serious condition.


Resources:


1. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.


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