When we think of snoring, for most of us, it’s just something some people do and others don’t. Or it’s a punchline in an old sitcom, a problem for your significant other to deal with because we don’t know we’re doing it. But when it comes to our bodies, everything is connected and it might mean something else. Far from being out of our control, there are absolutely things that can be done to help with snoring! First, we have to figure out the Why. Some of the reasons we snore are understandable & temporary: Lack of sleep, narrow air passage, etc. But what about the UNEXPECTED reasons for snoring? Let’s talk about that.
Unexpected Reasons For Snoring
But first, what is a snore? Snoring occurs usually when we draw breath in more so than when we breathe out. Sound is produced by the vibration of soft tissues of the upper airway,when we sleep, either through the nose or throat.
Don’t Sleep On Your Back
Beside the obvious fact that you’re pushing air up, against gravity (always harder), our tongues and jaw drop to the back of our throat naturally, constricting the airway. Studies have shown that something as simple as sleeping on our sides can cut down on snoring by as much as 68%! Side sleeping can also lessen the symptoms of sleep apnea as well.
It’s not news that being heavy is unhealthy, but being overweight tends to also mean that the muscles around your neck and throat are not as toned. It also means that there’s more tissue around both those areas as well. The combination of both factors lead an audibly loud sleeping experience. You don’t have to be a gym rat to sleep soundly, but working out helps tire a person out, making it easier to fall asleep too. Try to schedule in an hour of cardio work a day. In healthy people, not suffering from other underlying issues, that’s enough to start shedding those pounds.
No Late Night Cocktails
Or any alcohol really. First, alcohol related “sleep” isn’t quality rest. It doesn’t matter how much you get when you pass out or go to bed drunk. It restricts REM sleep, which is what allows you to replenish your energy. According to Dr. Jagdeep Bijwadia, a board-certified doctor in internal, sleep and pulmonary diseases medicine, alcohol relaxes a person’s airways, which can lead to excessive snoring – even if you’re not a regular snorer! And if you make a habit of drinking before bed (even as little as a glass of wine), you’ll incur a greater and greater sleep debt that will lead a person to become more groggy and disoriented throughout the day.
When a person has a cold, it’s hard for them to get sleep, which doesn’t help a body recover from that illness. A stuffed nose might also lead to snoring. Your body is trying to push air in and out past an obstruction, which is not easy. But it doesn’t have to be a cold. You can get the same problem if you suffer from airborne allergies or if you have a deviated septum. Obviously, the latter requires corrective surgery, but the former can be done as an outpatient after talking to an allergist doctor. An ENT doctor can help you deal with sensitivities to dust mites by reducing the swelling in nasal tissue, for example. Nasal sprays can also open up airways, but make sure you follow the usage instructions. Some can only be used after several hours have passed.
Your Thyroid May Be Off Kilter
A person with hypothyroidism, which means your thyroid isn’t producing enough hormones, may end up with a snoring problem. Indeed, it’s one of the tell-tale symptoms of an underperforming thyroid. A study found a definite correlation between upper airway resistance syndrome and hypothyroidism. Not only was the severity of the snoring excessive, but it also lead to daytime somnolence. If you notice that you have a consistent snoring problem or your significant other points out the same, it might be a good idea to get tested, just to make sure you’re not a victim of a larger malady. Especially if you’re also suffering from dry skin, thinning hair and depression or any of the other symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Living A Long Life
Like a lot of other things, our bodies start to break down as we get older. Things that were easy in our youth are harder when we’re older. It’s not just the skin that can get saggy. The tissue inside our bodies age too and doesn’t bounce back as fast as it once did, leading to snoring. Believe it or not, but doing vocal exercises daily, like professional singers can help keep the tissue firm, barring the snore monster from intruding on your sleep.
We’re not all alike when it comes to how our bodies form, hardly a bold statement. But more true when it comes clear nasal passageways or a hard/soft palate. Both of those factors come into play when it comes to sawing logs. For instance, a lower, thicker or softer palate will obstruct your airway and we already know the result of a restricted airway from the points above. If you have this problem, a customized mouth guard might be needed to keep loud snoring away. Or maybe it’s even more serious of an issue and you have sleep apnea, which would require you to use a CPAP device that feeds clean air into your body while you sleep.
Get your mind out of the gutter! Not that kind of sex. Men naturally have narrower air passages, more so than women. And we already know from above that a smaller airway means more vibration, more struggle to get oxygen into the body, leading to more snoring & louder snoring! Also, men are more likely to drink alcohol than women, leading to a higher incidence of inflammation induced snoring. And they tend to be more overweight as well!
Far from being helpless in the face of snoring, you are now forearmed with causes for these nighttime noises. If you find yourself snoring all of a sudden, you can now do something about it, now that you know the reasons for snoring and how to stop. Especially if you think your snoring is thyroid related, get tested here. At the very least, you can check it off the list and move on to other potential causes. Make sure you get the rest you need, quality sleep!