During sleep, the muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth relax significantly, reducing airway size. This decrease in airway space increases the velocity of air flowing through the throat and mouth. The speed of the air traveling through the constricted space causes vibrations of the uvula and soft tissues of the palate. These vibrations are what we refer to as snoring. Studies have shown that excess body weight, heavy alcohol consumption and regular use of sedatives can significantly increase the severity of snoring.
Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and twenty-five percent are habitual snorers. Snoring can have personal and medical repercussions. Disturbance of your sleep as well as the sleep of others can lead to serious long-term health problems. Often times snoring is a precurser to a more serious condition and is the number one symptom of all sleep apnea suffers.
For many people, snoring is a harmless fact of life, but for others it can be a symptom of a life threatening sleep disorder. If you feel you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, be sure to consult a physician to properly assess the severity of your condition.
While most sufferers have learned to cope, the occurrence of snoring suggests that there may be a partial obstruction of the nose or throat that leads to difficulties in breathing, which results in the vibrating sound of snoring.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more serious case of sleep apnea? The biggest telltale sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring doesn't interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you're less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
Research has shown that wearing a CPAP device every night can provide many benefits for sleep apnea patients. Unfortunately, many patients find the CPAP machine uncomfortable and are unable to wear their mask. Complaints range from discomfort and dry mouth to nasal congestion, skin irritation and nightmares. If you've been prescribed a CPAP device and you are unable or unwilling to wear it, there are non-invasive alternatives.