Updated: May 4, 2020
What Causes Snoring?
Just about everyone snores occasionally, and it’s usually not something to worry about. Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing. If you regularly snore at night it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. And if your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can create major relationship problems too. Thankfully, sleeping in separate bedrooms isn’t the only remedy for snoring. There are many effective solutions that can help both you and your partner sleep better at night and overcome the relationship problems caused when one person snores. Since people snore for different reasons, it’s important to understand the causes behind your snoring. Once you understand why you snore, you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep—for both you and your partner.
Common Causes of Snoring
As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases. While you can’t do anything about growing older, lifestyle changes, new bedtime routines, and throat exercises can all help to prevent snoring.
Being overweight or out of shape
Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all it takes to end your snoring.
The way you’re built
Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. Again, while you have no control over your build or gender, you can control your snoring with the right lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises.
Nasal and sinus problems
Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
Alcohol, smoking, and medications
Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help.
Ruling out more serious causes Snoring could indicate sleep apnoea, a serious sleep disorder where your breathing is briefly interrupted many times each night. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea, so if you’re suffering from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day, it could be an indication of sleep apnoea or another sleep-related breathing problem. Call your doctor or dental professional if you or your sleep partner have noticed any of the following red flags:
You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.
You stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep.
You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or a meal.
Linking the Cause of Your Snoring to the Cure
Monitoring your snoring for patterns can often help you pinpoint the reasons why you snore, what makes it worse, and how to go about stopping it. To identify important patterns, it helps to keep a sleep diary. If you have a sleep partner, they can help you fill it in. If you sleep alone, set up a camera to record yourself at night.
HOW you snore reveals WHY you snore
Closed-mouth snoring May indicate a problem with your tongue.
Open-mouth snoring May be related to the tissues in your throat.
Snoring when sleeping on your back
Probably mild snoring—improved sleep habits and lifestyle changes may be effective cures.
Snoring in all sleep positions
Can mean your snoring is more severe and may require a more comprehensive treatment.
Medical Treatment for Snoring
If you’ve tried self-help solutions for snoring without success, don’t give up hope. There are medical options that could make all the difference. New advances in the treatment of snoring are developing all the time and devices are becoming more effective and comfortable. Talk to your primary physician, dental specialist or to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT). Even if they recommend something that was uncomfortable or didn’t work in the past, that doesn’t mean the same will be true now.
Medical cures for snoring in increasing invasiveness and increasing cost:
Custom-fitted dental devices and lower jaw-positioners help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw forward (Mandibular Advancement). For best results, you will need to see a dental specialist who specializes in these devices.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). To keep your airway, open during sleep, a machine at your bedside blows pressurized air into a mask that you wear over your nose or face.
Somnoplasty uses low levels of radiofrequency heat to remove tissues of the uvula and soft palate that vibrate during snoring. The procedure is performed under local anaesthesia and takes about 30 minutes.
Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) uses a laser to shorten the uvula (the hanging soft tissue at the back of the throat) and to make small cuts in the soft palate either side. As the cuts heal, the surrounding tissues stiffen to prevent the vibrations that trigger snoring.
Palatal implants or the Pillar procedure, involves inserting small plastic implants into the soft palate which help prevent collapse of the soft palate that can cause snoring.
How Clinico can Help you with your First Steps Towards Reducing your Snoring
At Clinico we recommend and produce the Silensor-sl. This is a comfortable and effective mandibular advancement device. It only requires us to take upper and lower impressions (moulds) of your teeth, a record of how your upper and lower jaws relate to each other, and some measurements of how far your lower jaw can move in different directions.
We use all this information to figure out how far forward we can move your lower jaw to reduce and hopefully eliminate your snoring, while ensuring that we don’t move your jaw too far that it becomes uncomfortable.
The process takes 2 clinical visits, and normally a 3 rd is added as a review to see how things are progressing and make any necessary adjustments.
The feeling of wearing the Silensor-sl is like wearing a mouthguard however it only sits on your teeth, not your gums, so is more comfortable. Also, you only need to wear it while you are sleeping.