Someone who snores can often become the butt of jokes. But a joke aside, snoring is no laughing matter. Nearly 90 million Americans snore, most of them are men.
A recent survey found that snoring is the cause of one in seven domestic disputes, and 95 percent of those questioned say they are woken by their partner's heavy snoring at least once a week, with 39 percent being woken up every night! Another poll revealed that 80 percent of couples end up sleeping in different rooms, all because one partner can no longer tolerate sleeping next to someone that sounds like a landing strip. Besides the social ramifications of snoring, it can also have serious health effects.
Snoring consists of noisy breathing through the mouth or nose during sleep. If you are a quiet sleeper, air passes from your nose and throat to your lungs silently and unhindered. However, for millions of others, something disrupts the flow of air. Maybe it's a blocked nose; perhaps the base of the tongue is restricting breathing. More commonly, it's the soft tissue in your upper palate or throat that gets in the way and starts vibrating.
The reasons for snoring are many. They include poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat, sometimes due to alcohol or drugs; weight gain -- extra weight around the neck can lead to snoring; colds -- having a stuffy noses means you're likely to snore; and some kind of obstruction, such as a polyp, cyst or even enlarged tonsils.
How can one stop snoring? There is no universal answer, but there are hundreds of potential solutions that may help you. There are numerous fixes for snoring, from folk traditions to home remedies and over-the-counter medications, to what might be called a face-lift for your throat. Most methods attempt to open the compressed airway, either by tightening the collapsing tissue or preventing the obstruction.
Keep in mind:
Snoring can cause severe problems in relationships because of the disrupted sleep of the sleeping partner. Research shows that sleep partners of people who snore heavily are wakened over 20 times per hour, which severely cuts into the quality and quantity of their sleep.
Once snoring becomes severe, it can be deadly. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (which is affiliated with the US Department of Health and Human Services), snoring may be a symptom of a serious disorder called sleep apnea, or irregular breathing patterns during sleep. A person with sleep apnea stops breathing up to 300 times for 10 seconds or more while he sleeps, depriving his brain of oxygen.