20 Common Questions About Snoring Answered

Snoring is more complicated than you might think. Because snoring is perceived as an embarrassing habit, it is not often talked about. Therefore, many people have questions about their snoring: what it is, why it’s happening and what to do about it. These are a selection of the most common questions people have about their nighttime noises …

What is snoring?

Snoring is the sound of the soft palate and other soft tissue in the upper airway vibrating. This can include the uvula, tonsils, adenoids, nasal turbinates and other surrounding tissue.

These vibrations happen when air can’t move freely through your airway which causes the floppy soft tissue to flap and make noise.

Read the full article: What is Snoring? – An Introduction

Why do I snore?

Snoring is caused by a combination of different factors which vary from person to person. The most common reasons for snoring include:

Is my snoring a problem?

If your snoring is disrupting your sleep or your partner’s sleep, or has a potential to become obstructive sleep apnea, then it is problematic and needs addressing. There is disagreement in the medical world as to whether normal, habitual snoring (non-apnea) is physically harmful.

What can stop me from snoring?

There is no single remedy that works for all snorers. Finding a solution to your snoring requires an understanding of what is causing you to snore. Common snoring remedies include:

My partner snores. What can I do?

To manage a partner’s snoring and get some more sleep, there are approaches to solve the problem, and some others to simply cope.

Solving the problem:

  • Let them know they snore. Snorers often aren’t aware of their snoring problem. Highlighting it as an issue can motivate them to make a change.
  • Share lifestyle solutions. Often, snoring can be remedied with positive diet and lifestyle changes. These are more likely to be successful if done as a couple.
  • Prop. Sleep back-to-back to prevent your partner from rolling onto their back.
  • Observe and understand their snoring triggers. As the non-snorer, you are in the unique position of being able to see and hear the differences that the snorer may be oblivious to.

Coping with the problem:

  • Get a head start to bed.
  • Sleep separately. This is a solution that many couples cite as the saviour of their marriage. Set aside that same time to enjoy each other’s company, before eventually doing the sleeping part in separate rooms.
  • Use earplugs. A simple multipack of foam earplugs will do the trick, but also shop around for ones that are sleep-specific.
  • Get a white noise machine. This doesn’t block the snoring sound, but instead masks it as the snoring frequencies blend in with the frequencies coming from the white noise machine.
  • Change how you react to the snoring. The mindfulness approach is about changing the way you perceive your partner’s snoring. Try to emotionally detach from the snoring sound and instead treat it like your own personal soundscape.

Read the full article: What Can You Do If Your Partner Snores?

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Apnea simply means “no breathing”. Sleep apnea is a serious condition where your airway repeatedly closes during sleep, depriving you of oxygen until you gasp awake.

The “obstructive” part refers to the fact that airway obstruction is the reason for apnea. Central sleep apnea is a different condition whereby the brain cannot properly regulate normal breathing patterns during sleep.

Read the full article: What Is Sleep Apnea?

If I snore loudly, do I have sleep apnea?

Whilst loud snoring is a key sign of sleep apnea, it does not mean that you definitely have the condition. 95% of people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) snore, but not all snorers have OSA.

Read the full article: Is It Snoring Or Sleep Apnea?

What does AHI mean?

AHI stands for “apnea-hypopnea index” and is a measurement of the severity of sleep apnea. It gives a value for the number of apnea/hypopnea events per hour, which is where breathing fully/partially stops for over 10 seconds.

  • 0-5 events per hour – normal
  • 5-15 events per hour – mild sleep apnea
  • 15-30 events per hour – moderate sleep apnea
  • 30+ events per hour – severe sleep apnea

How can I find out if I have sleep apnea?

Firstly, look out for the key signs and symptoms:

  • Loud snoring with periodic choking/gasping
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches and sore throat in the morning
  • Frequently waking twice or more to urinate
  • Mood changes
  • Dry mouth/chapped lips upon waking
  • Lowered sex drive
  • Acid reflux

Secondly, do some screening tests:

  • STOP-Bang. This questionnaire assesses how many of the key risk factors for sleep apnea you have.
  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale. This is a test to see if you are showing signs of excessive sleepiness by asking your likelihood of falling asleep in certain day-to-day scenarios.

If these point to potential sleep apnea, consult a doctor. You may be referred for a sleep study. Sleep studies are the only way to reliably diagnose and quantify sleep apnea.

What happens in a sleep study?

A sleep study can be done in a specialist sleep clinic or at home. It is an overnight procedure where you are monitored to gain insight into what happens when you sleep.

You are observed with polysomnography (PSG) which simply means “many sleep measurements”. Therefore, you are connected to a variety of monitors to observe different facets of your sleep:

  • Blood oxygen levels – blood oxygen drops during apnea episodes.
  • Brain activity – to detect the micro-arousals that accompany apnea events and assess what stage of sleep you are in.
  • Muscle activity
  • Heart rate
  • Breathing rate and effort – to provide evidence of breathing interruptions.
  • Eye movement – helps to determine what stage of sleep you are in.
  • Sleeping position – gives some insight into what triggers sleep apnea.

Read the full article: What Happens in a Sleep Study?

How can sleep apnea be treated?

The best solution for sleep apnea depends on the severity of the condition.

Mild to moderate cases can often be treated with the same techniques and remedies used to manage primary snoring.

Severe cases – where your AHI is over 30 – are best managed with CPAP.

Im extreme cases where CPAP and other methods have failed, if there is a clear physical obstruction, surgery can also be an option.

Read the full article: Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

What is CPAP?

CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure” and is very effective in treating moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP does not give you more oxygen, instead, it gives a constant current of normal air that props open you airway to prevent it from collapsing and causing apneas.

The devices consist of a generator connected to a mask via a hose. They come in different shapes and sizes so are suitable for many different people.

I am a back-sleeper. How can I sleep on my side?

There are several ways you can train yourself to sleep on your side:

  • Tennis ball therapy. Tape or sew a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas to make sleeping on your back difficult.
  • Leaning against something to prevent you rolling over.
  • Specialist pillows. Special designs can encourage side sleeping
  • Vibrating training devices. These work like a gentle snore alarm, vibrating when it detects that you are sleeping on your back.

My nose is blocked and making me snore. What is causing it?

Having a blocked nose is one of the main causes of snoring. There can be many reasons for nasal blockage:

Read the full article: Snoring Due to a Blocked Nose

Do nasal sprays work?

Nasal sprays are a popular anti-snoring remedy. It is important to note that they aren’t suitable for all snorers. They will not work if you can already breathe properly through your nose.

There are several different types of nasal spray, each for different causes of nasal-related snoring.

Read the full article: Do Nasal Sprays Work For Snoring?

Is an anti-snoring mouthpiece right for me?

Anti-snoring mouthpieces can be a very effective snoring remedy. These devices work by positioning your lower jaw (your mandible) further forward (or advancing it).

At SnoreLab, we recommend mouthpieces for a number of different snorers:

  • People whose snoring has worsened with age
  • Overweight snorers
  • Back sleepers. This is because sleeping on your back makes your tongue more likely to fall back into your airway and cause an obstruction. Mouthpieces are still suitable for side and front sleepers.
  • Mild-moderate OSA sufferers
  • After drinking alcohol
  • Open-mouthed snorers
  • Snorers with a pronounced overbite

Like most snoring remedies, there are some people who should avoid using anti-snoring mouthpieces:

  • Those who wear dentures or a missing a significant number of teeth
  • People who have dental decay
  • Those who suffer from jaw ache
  • People with chronic nasal blockage
  • Epilepsy sufferers. Mouthpieces can break into small parts due to the strong biting down that can accompany severe seizures.

Read the full article: Buying Guide – Anti-Snoring Mouthpieces

Why do men snore more than women?

Roughly 40% of men snore, whereas only 20% of women snore. Men’s airway anatomy is more prone to snoring. This is due to an increased proportion of soft tissue and a predisposition to gain fat on the neck. Male hormones also enhance airway collapsibility whilst female hormones protect against it.

Read the full article: Do Men Snore More Than Women?

My child snores. Is this normal?

Just like adults, occasional snoring is normal and harmless for children. However, extra attention should be paid if your child snores 4 nights or more per week, and snores frequently through the night.

Look out for the following signs:

  • They snore more than 4 nights per week
  • They snore frequently throughout the night
  • The snoring is noisy
  • You can hear pauses in the child’s breathing
  • They often sleep with an open mouth
  • They have trouble waking up
  • There are behavioural issues and problems at school
  • You are told that they fall asleep at school
  • They are unusually irritable
  • They report having headaches or a sore throat.

Read the full article: Snoring and Sleep Apnea in Children

Is snoring genetic?

Importantly, there is no such thing as a “snoring gene”, but there is some evidence to suggest that snoring has a genetic link. Some features can be inherited from our parents that make us more likely to snore. These include:

  • Small nostrils
  • Receded chin (known as retrognathia)
  • Small jaw (known as micrognathia)
  • Narrow airway
  • Large tongue
  • Large soft palate
  • A propensity for weight gain

Read the full article: Is Snoring Genetic?

Are there different snoring sounds? If so, what do they mean?

Yes. Different types of snoring produce different sounds depending on where the obstructions and vibrations are. We are not yet able to use snoring sound alone to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, but early studies have found that sleep apnea-related snoring has a higher peak frequency than habitual snoring.

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