After a relaxing evening you find yourself tucked into bed, the silence punctuated only by the chirping of crickets. The memory of a pleasant day helps you drift off to sleep with ease, but as you start your initial ascent into dreamland, you hear a grating sound like a bag of pebbles being dragged across uneven cement! The unpleasant rumble causes you to jolt awake and looking around you realize that — it’s you! You’re the culprit of the horrible sound! You’re the one snoring and sleeping with mouth open! Before you find out how to stop snoring, you may want to know what causes snoring in the first place.
The symptom of snoring is the grating, grumbling snoring sound you make that keeps you and/or your partner (or neighbor) tossing and turning throughout the night. It’s a pretty common affliction, as 44 percent of men and 28 percent of women habitually snore. So there’s some good news — it’s not just you! And while it’s understandable to be sleeping with mouth open and want to nip this in the bud, before you can go out there and find a treatment for snoring, it’s important to understand what the causes of snoring are so you can tackle the problem with knowledge!
There are quite a few reasons that you might snore but it’s important to remember that with all medical issues, it’s important to talk to a doctor if for advice and diagnosis no matter whether you are snoring with mouth closed or open. That being said, here’s some advice! Understanding what causes snoring and how to stop it can lead you and/or your partner to a better night of sleep.
Snoring is caused by the upper airway (muscles) relaxing, becoming partially closed while you sleep (no snoring while awake). As air attempts to squeeze through the narrow passage, your throat and nasal tissues vibrate, sometimes loudly. That’s a snore!
Your partner cries out in the middle of the night, “why would your body do this? Surely there’s a reason?”. As it turns out, yes, there are several risk factors why you might be afflicted by this dreaded curse.
So what causes snoring?
1. Obstruction by Tension
The most common cause of having blocked airways is — you guessed it — having your airways physically blocked. When you fall asleep, the muscles in your neck and throat relax. If you’re sitting at your computer reading this, try letting your head hang down, relax your neck, and slowly take a deep breath through your nose. Feel that? Or more importantly, hear that? That is the sound of snoring while awake.
Now, you probably don’t normally sleep with your chin to your chest, but if you’re overweight, having enlarged tonsils, an enlarged tongue or even just getting older, you might find that excess tissue and fat in or around your neck can push against your air passages and cause your tissue to vibrate when you intake air. It’s normal, but if you’re wondering how to stop snoring naturally, you might first consider some “how to stop snoring exercises” (any exercise will do).
2. Obstruction by Relaxants
With your newfound knowledge of snoring causes, you no doubt have already figured out that relaxants will likely make things worse. Sleeping pills, alcohol, or other drugs that cause muscle relaxation can actually be very detrimental for snorers, despite helping you to fall asleep initially. The price of sleep for you might cost sleep for your partner. What about drugs like Valium or Xanax? Unfortunately, the same boat. They can all contribute to over-relaxing the neck muscles, which can physically obstruct your upper airway.
3. Inflammation by Environmental Causes
Another factor that can cause snoring is inflammation of the upper airway and nasal passages. In contrast to having your muscles relax and touch one another, irritants can cause them instead to become inflamed, thus narrowing your airways. If you snore mainly during allergy season or after a day at the old grass seed factory, you’re likely snoring as a reaction to your environment! Bad air quality and smoke inhalation can act as irritants in a similar fashion. It’s not your fault, but you can combat this minor annoyance with antihistamines (allergies) or staying indoors (air quality).
4. Inflammation by You
If you are a smoker who snores (this is true of cigarettes, vaporizers, and other smokables), you’re likely afflicted (at least in part) because you physically irritate your throat with smoke. Your airways can become more prone to closing ever-so-much when you sleep, and it might be worth trying to give it up.
5. Dehydration and Mucus
So, you’re like most people on earth and don’t drink enough water, huh? Did you know that suffering from even slight dehydration can cause a lack of natural lubricants on the inside of your body, leaving your flaps and muscles sticky with dryness? Whether it causes long-term irritation in your throat or not, the immediate reaction may just mean you’re snoring more than usual, and any more than none at all is less than ideal. In a similar way, chronic congestion and postnasal drip can cause your floppier tissues to stick together!
6. Physical Blockages
Sleep disorders that cause medical issues can be harder to combat. If you have a long soft palate, a large uvula, a deviated septum, or inflamed tonsils, these issues can act in a similar way to inflammation and obstruction by tension. Having additional physical blockages will always contribute to additional audible snores.
7. Obstructive Sleep Apnea or Insomnia
If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (breathing completely stopping during sleep) or insomnia (an inability to sleep easily or well), you should consult a medical professional. Both of these issues are not uncommon, cause an increase in snoring with mouth closed or open, and curing them can take time, medical procedures, and long-term commitments to better overall health.
If you’ve read this far, you’re obviously trying to improve things for yourself or those around you (applaud yourself, you deserve it!) and it’s time to sum things up in a concise, easy-to-remember way! Snoring is caused by your airways being blocked or partially closed restricting airflow and causing the tissues in your nasal passage or throat to vibrate and emit noise. It’s like when you pinch a balloon’s air hole and it squeals, but several octaves lower. Snoring with mouth closed or open is caused by the upper airway (muscles) relaxing, becoming partially closed while you sleep. So there is no way that you are snoring while awake. In fact, there are a lot of things that cause snoring, which is probably why over 100 million people in the United States chronically snore!
But how do you stop this dreaded curse?
Luckily for you, there’s a large variety of snoring aids and snoring home remedies (we’ll get deep into this over time) to prevent snoring and sleeping with mouth open and give back your healthy sleep. These range from snoring devices such as anti-snore pillows (which can help you keep tension in your neck muscles or change position) to over-the-counter antihistamines, or in the worst cases, you might consider seeking medical treatment for snoring. No matter what the affliction is, however, there’s hope for a better night’s sleep for you and your loved ones!