A restful night’s sleep is one of the most important aspects of good health. It allows our physical and mental systems to be restored for activity in the waking hours. A lack of good sleep disrupts the body’s natural rhythms and can have a negative impact not just on physical energy, but overall mood as well. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), insufficient sleep is a public health crisis. An estimated 70 million adults in the United States have sleep disorders, most notably snoring.
Snoring is caused by an obstruction to the air passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This is the area where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. During sleep, these tissues relax. If they relax too much, however, the tongue can fall backward into the airway. The noises of snoring are these tissues vibrating as they strike each other.
While minor snoring might not be a problem for some people, it actually does disrupt sleep for the snorer and, in many cases, anyone else nearby who’s awakened by the sound. Because it’s caused by relaxed soft-tissue, there can be external factors that exacerbate snoring.
What Factors Increase the Chances of Snoring?
- Large Tongue
- Taking sedatives, (e.g sleeping pills, sleep liquids)
- Drinking alcohol before bedtime
- Sleeping on a bed or a large pillow that’s too soft
- Sleeping on your back
- Neck Size / Circumference
In some cases, though, snoring can be a sign of a more serious medical disorder, such as In some cases, though, snoring can be a sign of a more serious medical disorder, such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Individuals who suffer from this chronic condition can actually stop breathing while they sleep. This can last for a few seconds all the way up to a minute or longer. As result, people with sleep apnea have a decreased level of oxygen in their blood, which can cause exhaustion and headaches during the day.
There are effective lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, limiting alcohol consumption and sleeping on your side that can lessen snoring and improve sleep. Additionally, oral devices that stabilize the tongue can stop snoring.
Sleep scientists suggest that we’re getting less sleep than previous generations. While the amount of sleep a person needs varies, experts recommend 7 to 8 hours for healthy adults, and it must be restful sleep. Snoring for several hours a night is enough to impair performance and memory the following day. Getting the right amount of good sleep, though, improves mood, energy and overall well being.