Sleep is one of the natural and fundamental necessities for the human body to relax after stressful activities.
As such, a restful sleep must not be disturbed unnecessarily.
However, snoring by a sleeping bed partner or member of a household tends to give others insomnia (inability to sleep).
In this article, I have discussed various aspects of snoring and its altering effects on the restful sleep of the snorer, members of a household in general or bed partners or roommates in particular.
What then is snoring and what are its causes?
Basically, snoring is a snorting or grunting sound made during sleep hours.
It actually occurs when a person makes a hoarse or harsh sound from the mouth, throat or nostrils while sleeping and this may be due to unclear airways or nasal congestion.
Usually, people who snore are not aware that they do so.
They become aware when their bed partners, roommates or households inform them seriously or teasingly.
A person can also set a sound recorder while asleep to check whether or not he or she snores.
It is empirically established that muscles become loose and airways are narrowed when one sleeps, hence harsh sounds may occur due to moving air during inhalation and exhalation.
The snoring comes from the fluttered tissues.
Accordingly, the tissue size and shape around the neck determine the intensity of the snorting sound.
It is equally trite medical knowledge that other factors and disease conditions such as obesity, alcoholism, sedative medications, chronic nasal congestion, sinusitis, tonsilitis and in some cases, pregnancy can cause snoring.
Snoring is no respecter of age, gender, environment and social status.
However, there is a general belief that males snore more than females.
Snoring may equally be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
OSA is a breathing disorder or an intermittent blockade of airflow during sleep but with increased frequency emanating largely from obesity and age.
Even though snoring is the most common symptom of OSA, not everyone who snores is an OSA patient.
Suffice to say that a snoring person is not necessarily suffering from OSA but every OSA patient snores due to the breathing disorder.
OSA does not only obstruct sleep but also disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.
An untreated OSA can lead to other health challenges.
Types of Snoring
One may identify snoring types by their causative source such as nose-based, mouth-based, tongue-based and throat-based snoring. Others may classify snoring based on its intensity and say light snoring, infrequent snoring and primary snoring.
Snoring may be disruptive and a bother to bed partners, roommates and households but it is not usually a health concern for the snorer.
However, if the snoring is a symptom of OSA, sinusitis or any other health condition or disease, then the snorer needs medical attention.
One should be concerned about OSA-associated snoring because this can affect the person’s general well-being.
It must be emphasised that restful sleep helps the body to control hormones required to regulate stress and metabolism (biochemical processes necessary to maintain life).
As such, a persistent lack of sleep (insomnia) due to OSA can lead to daytime drowsiness, fatigue and serious health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke and depression.
Generally, snoring is benign (not harmful) but it is important for the snorer to see a doctor if he or she is experiencing symptoms that are pointers to OSA.
These symptoms may include repetitive snoring, loud or bothersome snoring and snoring with gasping, choking and snorting sounds.
Others are daytime drowsiness, lack of mental sharpness, morning headaches, nocturia (frequent nighttime urination) and bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding).
It should be noted that some of the symptoms indicated here are constitutional symptoms; they may occur due to other health or disease conditions. However, it is always advisable to see a doctor once you are not too sure what causes the symptoms.
Self-medication is bad so a person who wants to treat OSA or excessive snoring must see a qualified and registered medical doctor.
Generally, the treatment for snoring depends on the nature of the snoring and its underlying causative factors.
Infrequent and light snorers may not need any treatment at all, unless the snoring continuously obstructs restful sleep of the snorer, bedmates, roommates or households.
In this case, the prescribed treatment regime may be simpler and less invasive than treatment for OSA-based snoring.
The treatments may be in the form of changes to lifestyle (e.g., maintaining healthy weight, limiting sedative and alcohol-intake etc.), anti-snoring mouth devices (e.g., Mandibular Advancement Devices) and many more.
I insist that the best treatment is one that a qualified and registered medical doctor prescribes and not self-medication or treatment by a quack clinician.
Bed partners, roommates and households may also use earplugs to cope with the snoring of another person. I hope readers find this article educative and helpful.