The disruptive sound of a snore from your partner can lead to a lot of emotions. Anger, frustration, and exhaustion are just a few of them. And often your partner can’t help the sounds they emit while they’re asleep. It’s a tough thing to deal with, but snoring affects 90 million American adults. 27% of sufferers report snoring almost every night! If you or your partner have dealt with snoring at night, this article is for you. We’ll dive into some of the typical reasons for snoring, what to do about snoring, and when you should see a doctor to treat more serious ailments related to snoring.
Likely Culprits of Snoring
First off, what is snoring? Snoring occurs “when air flows past relaxed muscles in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe,” which results in those unpleasant sounds. Often a snorer won’t know they do it until a partner or family member tells them about it.
Sometimes snoring can be attributed to lifestyle choices and everyday behaviors. Research tells us that males are more likely to snore than women (42% of men vs. 31% of women). Beyond that, there are some other possible culprits that could be to blame for those noisy nights.
Normal aging– As we age, we often get heavier, and gain weight around the neck. This causes the space around the throat to get narrower.
Anatomical abnormalities– Some of us have enlarged tonsils, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum that can lead to snoring.
Being overweight – Gaining weight can lead to increased throat tissue, which can be attributed to those annoying snores.
Excessive alcohol consumption or certain medications– Adult beverages often relax the tongue and throat muscles, making it more likely to snore. Some medications can also make us excessively drowsy and relaxed.
Allergies, dust, and pet dander – Environmental factors like allergens in the air from dust, dirt, or pets can irritate the throat.
Lack of hydration– If you’re dehydrated, your mouth and nasal passages can become too dry, resulting in those loud nightly disruptions.
Infection or illness– Snoring could be attributed to an infection in the sinuses, throat, lungs, or airways.
Sleep deprivation – The more tired you are, the deeper you’ll sleep and the more likely you are to snore.
If You Snore…
Before you schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your snoring, you can try and make some changes in your home and life to see if things improve.
- Try losing weight.
- Avoid large amounts of alcohol and certain medications.
- Change out pillows and sheets frequently to reduce allergens and pet irritants – and have pets sleep in their own bed.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep consistently.
- Change sleeping positions: (try sleeping on your side, use a body pillow, or prop your head up with pillows).
- If your partner snores occasionally, invest in a sound machine or earplugs.
When to Visit the Doctor
While some snoring is harmless and merely annoying, it can also be a sign of something more serious, like the sleep disorder obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This disorder occurs when you have one or more pauses in breathing, or shallow breaths while you sleep. These stops in breathing can last anywhere from a few seconds to even minutes, and can occur as frequently as 30 times in an hour. About one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea. The two most common health effects linked to snoring are daytime tiredness and heart disease. The following symptoms are typically associated with OSA.
- Regular daytime sleepiness
- Gasping, choking, or stops in breathing at night
- Loud snores that awaken your partner
- Sore throat
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain in the evening
If snoring is accompanied by these other symptoms, and you’ve tried the above remedies and lifestyle changes with no change in snoring behavior, it may be time to see a doctor.
It’s important to see a doctor because other problems could be rooted in sleep apnea, like high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and heart arrhythmias. If your doctor diagnoses you with OSA, it will require long-term management. They may prescribe a CPAP machine to be used while you sleep, surgery might be the right option, or they may advocate for big changes in your lifestyle to successfully treat the disorder.
Get the Report for Your Doctor
You can also use the SleepScore app or our premiere product, SleepScore Max, to track your sleep and see how often you’re waking up at night. If you exhibit wakeups over a certain number of weeks set out by our advisors, you will be given a screener for Sleep Apnea, and a 30-day doctor’s report will be sent to you, so you can show your doctor what your sleep looks like and start a dialogue about your diagnosis and treatment.
So, whether you are suffering from the occasional snore-related wake up, or you have a more serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea, taking steps to remedy your snoring will help you and your family sleep better and live a healthier lifestyle.