Snoring – How to Stop It
Snoring is not healthy for the human body. Not only that, the bed partner wants nothing more than a good night’s rest. But with all the snoring, that becomes more and more difficult. And if the situation is not resolved, one person usually ends up leaving the bedroom altogether. But is it actually possible to make someone stop snoring? The short answer is yes. The next question is how can we do that? To answer this question we first need to understand what causes snoring.
Snoring – What Causes it
Snoring is the sound caused by flutter of soft tissue along the airway as we breathe in and out. When we are awake and upright, our airway remains more open. When we lay down to sleep we lose our voluntary muscle control. Gravity also starts placing weight on the airway making it smaller in cross section, similar to stepping on a water hose. The jaw usually slides back as well (for back sleepers), placing further constriction on this already reduced airway. This is enough to create a bottleneck effect with the soft tissue constricting the flow of the air. As the air rushes in and out, it causes vibration and flutter, thus producing the noise. Given this information, we need to ask why does not everybody snore? The answer has to do with all the factors that impact our airway, directly or indirectly.
Snoring – Why Do Only Some People Snore
The fact that snoring is not universal means that we can help people stop snoring. When you look at people who snore, you start noticing specific traits compared to people who don’t snore. One of these factors is body weight. The term body mass index (BMI) relates a person’s weight to their height. When the BMI starts going past a certain point, you see snoring more and more. This means that people who snore should evaluate their BMI and if necessary improve it to mitigate its negative effects. What worsens the BMI is being over weight. This is commonly seen in football players. A 300 lb lineman whose BMI is very high probably snores at best and suffers from sleep apnea at worst. There are various other factors impacting our airway such as the size of our tonsils and adenoids, the length and elasticity of our soft palate, the size and position of our tongue, sleep and neck posture just to name a few. Obviously the more of these negative factors are present, the harder it is to help the patient stop snoring.
Snoring – How Can It Be Treated
Technically speaking, snoring cannot be treated, but it can be managed. And to manage this condition, we need to treat it from different directions. If the patient is over weight, starting a weight management program is an important step. Limiting alcohol intake will impact the airway positively. Sleeping on the side as opposed to sleeping on the back is another useful remedy. At the very least elevating the head/upper body will lessen the resistance on the airway. There are mouth guards that help reduce snoring by minimizing the impact of the tongue on the airway. If there is an excess of soft tissue, surgical options are also worth considering.
Our dentist Sonny Eslampour, DDS has training and experience in helping patient stop snoring and other more severe breathing disorders such as sleep apnea. If you know of someone who snores, share this post with them and maybe we can help them with their condition.