Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. In some cases, the sound may be soft, but in most cases, it can be loud and unpleasant. (wiki)
Interestingly, the origins of the word are thought to date back to sometime in the mid fifteenth century and it is thought to have come from the word “snort”. (dictionary.com)
Snoring comes in three forms; occasional, habitual, serious/ obstructive.
Snoring is common among both genders and across all age groups.
Up to 90 million Americans snore, 37 million of those snore on a regular basis.
Generally, it gets worse with age.
30% of people who are 30 years old or older snore.
40% of people who are 40 years old or older snore.
19% of women snore and up to 40% of men snore habitually.
The average snore as measured in decibels (db) is around 60db. This is the same loudness as a conversational voice.
A loud snore measures about 80db, which is slightly noisier than a toilet flushing.
One of the loudest snores ever recorded was in the UK. It “belonged” to Jenny Chapman and it measured about 112 (db) which is the same as an ambulance siren.
Sleep partners believe that they can lose between three and five hours sleep a night as a result of their bed mate snoring.
Famous People Who Snore
Unsurprisingly, many celebrities snore.
The Huffington Post wrote an article listing some famous people who snore and they include;
- Shaquille O’Neal
- Tom Cruise
- Prince Harry
- Marilyn Manson
- Teddy Roosevelt
- Lionel Messi
Types of Snoring
It is widely recognised that there are 4 different types of snoring; nasal, throat, mouth and sleep apnoea.
A person who is a nasal snorer makes the classic snoring sound- much like Darth Vader from Star Wars.
Nasal Snoring is caused by partially blocked nasal passages, which forces you to breath through the mouth instead.
The added pressure on the throat means that it partially collapses. As you breath, the air is having to move through a smaller opening in the back your throat and which causes you to snore.
Causes of Nasal Snoring
Nasal snoring can be caused by an illness, physical problem or a lifestyle choice.
Common illnesses that affect your nasal passages, include a cold, allergy or sinus infection or a cold.
A cold can block your nasal passages with mucus, which is normally only temporary.
A bout of sinusitis happens most often after you have had a cold. It is when the mucus doesn’t drain away, causing a blockage and an uncomfortable build up of pressure around the nose and forehead. Again sinusitis is a temporary illness.
But don’t panic as most people have no problems with their sinuses after a cold.
An allergy also causes a blockage in the nose, but unlike a cold or sinusitis, it is not caused by mucus. Allergies inflame the lining of the nasal passages and it is the inflammation that causes a blockage.
Allergies are only temporary if they are treated. Untreated allergies could result in your nasal passages being blocked in the much longer term.
The two biggest physical problems that can cause nasal snoring are a deviated septum, or nasal polyps.
A deviated septum is when the wall of cartilage that separates your nostril is crooked.
A nasal polyp is a flesh like growth in your nose- don’t worry though as polyps are benign and non cancerous.
Both of these conditions cause a blockage.
A lifestyle issue that might increase your chances of becoming a nasal snorer or if you already are one, it might be making it worse, is by smoking tobacco or drugs.
When you smoke, the chemicals and toxins that are inside the smoke will irritate your nasal lining, potentially making them more inflammed.
It is smoking in the evenings, in the last few hours that you go to bed that will affect the lining of your nose the most.
And so, try not to smoke in the last four hours before going to bed.
The sad part of the effect that smoke has on nasal passages, is that it can irritate and inflame the lining of the nose of passive smokers- those of us, who whilst not smoking themselves, are close by when other people do.
Deviated Septum Surgery
The only way to cure a deviated septum is through surgery. The procedure is called a septoplasty.
It is a procedure which is normally carried out under general anaesthetic but it can also be carried out under a local anaesthetic.
The surgery takes anywhere between 30 minutes and 90 minutes.
It is normally an outpatient procedure.
Side effects of the surgery are rare but they can include an altered nose shape and a reduced sense of smell.
Nasal Polyps Surgery
The preferred way to treat polyps is by using steroids.
Normally steroid drops would be used before using a spray and then if those two approaches don’t work then a course of steroid tablets would be suggested.
The next step would be surgery. The procedure is called endoscopic sinus surgery.
It can be completed as an outpatient.
It involves putting an endoscope (tiny video camera) up your nose and then using a rotating shaving mechanism called a microdebrider to remove the polyps.
Polyps tend to grow back every couple of years and so the surgery might need to be repeated.
Fancy A Quick Test?!
And now it is over to you…
Do you think that you are a nasal snorer?
Take my Nose Test to see if you are.
Tongue snoring sounds like a high pitched whistle. Whereas a nasal snore creates an almost constant sound, tongue snoring comes in shorter bursts.
Tongue Snoring is caused by the tongue rolling back into the throat and blocking the windpipe.
It is believed that as many as half of all snorers are tongue snorers and men are far more likely than women to suffer from it.
Causes of Tongue Snoring
Tongue snoring can be caused by a physical problem or a lifestyle choice.
Tongue snoring happens when an issue relating to the tongue causes it to partially block the airway at the back of the throat.
There are two issues here which are strictly a physical problem. Firstly is when someone’s lower jaw is slightly too small and secondly is when someone’s tongue is slightly too big.
Both of these problems cause the tongue to be incorrectly positioned when a person is lying in bed.
Lifestyle Choice #1
The tongue can also cause snoring by “flopping” towards the back of the throat. This is because the muscles that support it are too relaxed.
Two lifestyle choices that increase the likelihood of this “flooping” tongue are alcohol and sedative medication.
And this is because both alcohol and sedative medication tend to relax muscles.
Obviously, the taking of sedative medication is a difficult issue because some people simply have to take it.
But, if you don’t need to take it, then stop it and see if it has an affect on your snoring.
The specific issue relating to alcohol is related to how close to your bedtime you are drinking it.
Try and have your last drink a few hours before bed and see if over a couple of weeks it makes a difference.
Lifestyle Choice #2
Another reason that the tongue can block the airway at the back of the throat is that there is too much body fat around the neck and the combination of the fat and the tongue causes a partial blockage.
Men are more at risk of tongue based snoring because they tend to put on weight around their necks more. Yet women are at risk as well.
The advice is very precise. Men who have necks larger than 43 cm or 17″ are very likely to snore as are women who have necks larger than 41cm or 16″.
Fancy A Quick Test?!
And now it is over to you…
Do you think that you are a tongue snorer?
Take my Tongue Test to see if you are.
Mouth snorers are people who breath through their mouth whilst asleep.
Mouth breathing causes the soft tissue of the palate or uvula (which are the hanging bits at the back of your throat) to pump into each other, causing a vibration.
Mouth snoring is very similar to nose snoring and it can be difficult to know if mouth snoring is a result of an issue with the nasal passages or whether it is just about the mouth.
An interesting fact is that mouth snorers are more prone to illnesses than nasal snorers because when air travels through the nose, bacteria is filtered out.
Whereas air that travels via the mouth is unfiltered.
Causes of Mouth Snoring
Mouth snoring can be lessened mainly through thinking about three big lifestyle choices which have already been discussed in this article.
And they are; drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or drugs and maintaining an ideal weight.
It is important to realise that surgery as a means of controlling snoring, would always be viewed as a last resort.
There are 4 different types of procedures to try and treat mouth snoring.
- uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
- uvulopalatoplasty (UP)
- palate implants
- radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the soft palate
Sleep Apnoea is when you stop breathing whilst sleeping. There are three types of sleep apnoea; obstructive, central and mixed.
So that I keep this article focused on snoring, I won’t go into too much detail about sleep apnoea.
I have written a very detailed guide to sleep apnoea in another article.
Having sleep apnoea can cause snoring because after a pause in the breathing, a sufferer will often resume breathing with a snort or by gasping for air.
So those are the 4 types of snoring that are typically recognised.
But I have come across a 5th type of snoring, which is called multifactorial snoring.
This is when you suffer from a combination of all the other types of snoring!