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October 19, 2016
LIGHT SNORING IS NORMAL for most people. In fact, about 45 percent of adults snore at least occasionally. It’s so common that children who are pretending to be asleep will often fake snoring to “prove” they are sleeping. What exactly is snoring, and if half the population does it, is it even possible to stop snoring?
As you sleep, your body relaxes, including the muscles in your soft palate. The soft palate is located at the back of the roof of your mouth. When this tissue relaxes, it collapses into the airway, causing a partial blockage and vibrating as you breathe. The sound of this vibration is snoring.
If your nightly racket is disturbing your partner or having a negative effect on your own sleep quality, there are several snoring solutions you can try. (Consult a doctor before using any over-the-counter sprays or other medicinal products that claim to stop snoring.)
If you are unable to stop snoring using non-medical methods, or if you snore heavily regardless of your sleep position, talk to your doctor about it.
About 75 percent of people who snore heavily have a condition called sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common than central sleep apnea. Obstructive apnea is physical, involving the muscles and tissue of the throat, while central sleep apnea is a problem with the nervous system in which the brain does not correctly send breathing signals to the body.
People who have sleep apnea actually stop breathing for short periods during sleep. They may wake up gasping for air, and some people with apnea report dreams of suffocating or drowning.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition. It can cause high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart problems because when you stop breathing, your blood oxygen levels drop. This instability puts a heavy workload on the cardiovascular system.
Certain other medical problems often appear in people with sleep apnea, including Type 2 diabetes, liver problems and metabolic syndrome. Your loud snoring can also cause sleep deprivation in your partner or roommate.
People with sleep apnea often believe that they are sleeping through the night, when in fact they are waking up repeatedly but for such brief periods of time that they don’t remember it.
If you feel constantly fatigued or sleep-deprived despite getting plenty of sleep each night, talk to your doctor about the possibility of sleep apnea.