Snoring is the noise made when the airway is compromised during sleep. When you breathe normally, there is no noise. Air passes quietly through the nose and past the flexible structures in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, uvula, tonsils and tongue. While you are awake, muscles hold the airway open. When you fall asleep, these muscles relax, but normally the airway stays open and there is no noise.
Snoring occurs when the throat structures are abnormally large and/or when (during sleep) the throat muscles relax enough to cause the airway to collapse and partially obstruct the flow of air. As the lungs try to suck and push air past these obstructions, the structures vibrate as the air rushes past, and the sound we know as snoring occurs. While snoring may be harmless (benign snoring), it can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition which progresses from upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The Impact of Snoring on Sleep
Snoring interrupts that restful quiet sleep which is so important to our good health. Usually people do not hear themselves snore, but snoring can cause disrupted sleep for both the snorer and the snorers sleeping partner. This is know as “second hand snoring”. It can lead to daytime sleepiness and fatigue, which can affect the ability to function effectively at home and at work, and could lead to health problems. It is important to eliminate snoring so everyone can get a restful nights sleep and maintain good health.
If you snore, you are not alone. Statistics indicate that approximately 40% of adults over the age of 40 snore some or all the time. That number will continue to grow, because the factors that cause snoring continue to be prevalent in our population. Normal, smooth, unobstructed breathing is a key to getting a restful nights sleep.