Why You Snore and How It Affects Your Health

If you or someone you love snores when you sleep, you are not alone. Research shows that snoring is a problem for roughly 90 million people in the United States. Among those, 37 million suffer from a lower quality of life as a result. Restless nights lead to irritability, fatigue, absenteeism, impaired performance and relationship problems, not to mention being associated with heart disease.

Air needs to flow through your mouth and nose for you to breathe easily. When you fall asleep, the muscles in your throat relax, your tongue becomes floppy, and the surrounding tissues begin to vibrate. The narrower your throat gets, the louder the vibrations become, and the worse snoring becomes. In some cases, a condition known as apnea causes the throat to collapse and breathing to stop. If this happens, you should see a doctor immediately.

Snoring treatments

What Causes Snoring?

  • Aging
  • Physical abnormalities, such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids, deviated septum and polyps
  • Position, or posture, in bed
  • Alcohol, cigarettes and medications
  • Being overweight or out of shape
  • Allergies, colds and sinus problems
  • Apnea

Snoring treatments

Who is at Risk?

  • Mostly males
  • People with a family history of sleep apnea or snoring
  • Older people
  • People who are obese or inactive

What are the Symptoms?

  • Restlessness at night
  • Fatigue upon waking up in the morning
  • Morning headaches
  • Lack of alertness or shortened attention span
  • Irritability, frustration or anger caused by lack of sleep
  • Inability to stay awake during the day
  • Weight gain
  • Chest pain during the night
  • Pauses in breathing patterns or gasping for breath

Snoring that affects your rest, emotional outlook or ability to function may also cause complications in other areas of your life. Studies have linked snoring to an increase in cardiovascular disorders, strokes, and hypertension, as well as an increase in relationship problems and driving accidents. Children who snore are at greater risk for learning disabilities and behavioral disorders, and older people who snore are more likely to be depressed.

If your snoring wakes your partner up at night or if you wake up gasping for air or choking, it is time to see a doctor. Professionals may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment to improve your health and wellbeing.