Let’s get to the bottom of why people snore. With facts and science!
If you snore, or your partner snores, it pays to remember that it’s not life-threatening. However, snoring can cause sleep disturbances, which is one of the reasons why it can be so distressing for some. Any number of things can cause snoring, which technically speaking, happens when there’s a partial obstruction in your upper airways, creating a vibration around the back of your tongue and throat. Snoring can be mild, and barely audible, or quite severe, making it nearly impossible for the sleeping partner – or even the poor snorer - to get a good night’s sleep.
Many factors – both external and internal – can cause snoring. If you or your partner snore and you’d like to get to the bottom of it, here are 11 scientifically validated reasons why you might snore.
1. Enlarged tonsils
If you still have your tonsils, they may swell up from time to time when you’re suffering from an infection caused by either a virus or bacteria. As tonsils sit at the back of your throat, they can cause an obstruction, causing you to snore more audibly.
2. Enlarged adenoids
Similar to tonsils, your adenoids are situated at the back of your nose, at the roof of your mouth and help guard you against infection. Your adenoids also produce white blood cells and antibodies to fight off germs and work with your tonsils to prevent bugs entering your body. Adenoids tend to cause more problem in children than adults, but for some adults they can become infected and turn into a rather nasty, large mass of tissue, causing obstruction and, you guessed it, snoring.
3. Deviated septum
A deviated septum is another condition that can be surgically treated. Also known as a crooked nasal passage, it can occur through a childhood accident, such as a hit or bump to the face, a broken nose – or come about due to genetics or a birth defect. If it causes you serious issues with your snoring, you may consider having it surgically corrected.
4. Swollen turbinates
Another structural problem, your turbinates are little shelf-like structures in your nasal cavity. These turbinates trap dirt and dust that you breathe in, and also slow down and warm your inhaled air so it enters your lungs at the right temperature. If these turbinates become enlarged due to allergies, they can cause even more resistance in the airway – and – snoring.
5. Relaxed muscles
Here’s a simple fact: as we fall asleep, our muscles relax. And when some of us relax, our mouths open, and the soft muscles around our throat can relax a little too much. When this happens, our breathing pathway becomes blocked, resisting any air that’s trying desperately to get through. This causes vibration of the soft muscle tissues and hence, snoring.
Being overweight or obese is a common cause of snoring. When overweight, individuals have more fatty tissue around their necks, which also tend to be wider. And because overweight people have more fatty tissue around the necks, it tends to compress the airways and restrict air flow, causing you to snore.
There are some things we can’t get away from, and ageing is one of them. Although we can start snoring at any age, it is more common to start and worsen, as we get older. Why does this happen? Because as we get older, our muscles become flaccid, making us prone to snoring. Also, ageing sometimes invites other co-contributors such as weight gain, further exacerbating the problem.
Another well-known cause of snoring, alcohol is both a muscle relaxant and depressant. As mentioned above, when muscles relax, you’re more likely to snore. In fact, researchers have found that non-snoring individuals that drink alcohol are four times more likely to start snoring. And regular snorers are a whopping eight times more likely to snore after drinking alcohol.
Some people, unluckily, are simply genetically predisposed to snoring. If others snore in your family, it’s likely that you will, too. This is because your anatomical and muscle composition will be similar, which will include things like septum, tonsil or adenoid problems, too.
10. Facial structures
Some individuals with particularly large facial structures such as jawbone, nose or even the size of their tongue can predispose them to snore.
11. Sleep position
Sleep on your back, and you may find you’re more likely to snore. If this is you, try training yourself to sleep on your side, as sleeping on your back can cause your throat and neck tissues to relax more than usual, causing blockages and therefore snoring. If good intentions to sleep on your side aren’t enough, try sleeping on a product that encourages you to do so. For example, the Snore-Be-Gone Anti-Snore Pillow Body Positioning System places you in a comfortable position, allowing correct alignment of your spine while lying on your side. In addition to this, it elevates the body to avoid the gravitational collapse of your airways - which is the main cause of snoring.
Mattress & Pillow Science - the healthy sleep specialists.