There’s No Single Cause for Snoring, Making Treatment a Challenge
Snoring is a problem that keeps many people up at night. Whether you snore, or the person next to you snores, it can be extremely disruptive to everyone’s sleep. And people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea—a more extreme snoring problem—are at risk of other health problems as well, aside from the problematic sleep deprivation.
The prevalence of snorers is on the rise, and people are more likely to snore as they get older. There are multiple factors that contribute to snoring, with several of them directly related to our modern lifestyles. Along with age, diet and lack of exercise also play roles in snoring.
People today are more sedentary than ever before, which can lead to fluid buildup in our bodies as well as being overweight. Our diets are also softer, which means our tongue and throat muscles don’t have to work as hard as they once did when we were hunters and gatherers.
While there is still more research to be done on the causes of snoring, researchers have found that weak throat muscles and restricted airways will cause people to snore. The narrow airways create turbulent airflow, which causes the soft tissue at the back of the throat to vibrate. And for those with obstructive sleep apnea, the airways become completely blocked, causing people to stop breathing.
Since many factors can contribute to snoring, it can be hard to stop snoring altogether. But with the help of a snoring specialist, you can determine what is causing you to snore, and start making the necessary changes to your lifestyle. Along with lifestyle changes, there are also treatments available to help you stop snoring.
Underused Throat and Tongue Muscles
Back in the hunter-gatherer days, humans ate foods that were harder to chew and swallow, such as roots, fruits, leaves, and unprocessed meats. These foods required strong throat and tongue muscles to break up and push down the food. But nowadays, we eat foods that are easier to chew and swallow, so we rely less on these muscles. This results in weakened muscles that can contribute to snoring.
When people spend hours sitting instead of walking, fluid builds up in their legs. The fluid eventually moves up to the lungs and neck while sleeping. This can cause a narrowing of the throat, which contributes to obstructed airways and snoring. Sedentary lifestyles also result in people being overweight, and more likely to have fat deposits in their necks narrowing their airways.
Muscles Weaken with Age
As we get older, our muscles tend to weaken, including our oropharyngeal—throat and tongue—muscles. To keep muscles strong and working effectively, regular exercise is needed. Research on snoring has found that exercising oropharyngeal muscles and leg muscles can help reduce the occurrence and strength of snoring.
There are exercises to strengthen dilator muscles in the throat—these muscles contract to push down food. It is also important to strengthen the tongue, soft palate, and chin muscles. And for people who spend hours sitting every day, exercising leg muscles while sitting, or making a point to exercise daily, can help reduce these lifestyle contributors to snoring.
If you’d like to learn more about ways to stop snoring, speak with a snoring specialist to go over the treatment options and lifestyle changes you can make. With the right treatment plan, you and your loved ones can start living healthier lifestyles and sleeping better at night.