Do you constantly get teased for your loud snoring? Are you the friend no one wants to share a hotel room with because they know they won’t get any sleep? Is your partner forced to sleep in another room because of your excessive snoring?
According to Snoring Canada, you’re not alone. A recent poll found that almost half of Canadian men and 33 percent of Canadian women are regular snorers. This amounts to about 12 million adults in Canada who are affected by snoring. So why do we snore, what does it mean and what causes all that noise? This week we’re answering the three most asked snoring related questions:
WHY DO WE SNORE?
Not only does snoring annoy and disrupt those around you, but snoring inhibits healthy restorative sleep. As you probably already know, lack of quality sleep can make you tired, frustrated and irritable. Snoring is a form of sleep-disordered breathing and it is linked to increased risks for other health problems like heart disease, stroke, depression, and anxiety. Factors like your body weight, health, and the shape of your mouth and throat can all contribute to the reasons behind your snoring.
WHAT CAUSES ALL THAT NOISE?
Snoring is the vibration caused by air passing through a partially narrowed or blocked airway. While we sleep, the muscles in our throat and mouth start to relax. This relaxation narrows the trachea, your “windpipe”, that carries air to and from the lungs, diminishing airflow when you breathe. Within the narrowed airway, the tissues of the soft palate and uvula shake and vibrate. This vibration causes the sound of snoring.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
There are risk factors that increase your likelihood of having a snoring problem including age, being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking, and sleeping on your back. Snoring can often be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a more serious form of sleep-disrupted breathing. People with sleep apnea experience periodic interruptions to their breathing during sleep, as the airway closes and temporarily cuts off normal airflow. These interruptions can be occasional, with mild sleep apnea, or they can happen frequently throughout the night, with moderate to severe sleep apnea.
OSA is caused by a significant narrowing of the airway that reduces airflow to the lungs. The brain recognizes the lack of air and triggers an arousal response which disrupts sleep. An individual can experience up to 600 arousal triggers in a single night without even realizing their sleep was interrupted. Furthermore, OSA increases risks for other conditions, including high blood pressure and other forms of cardiovascular disease, obesity, memory, and other cognitive problems, and is proven to lead to an increased risk for accidents.