Sleep disorders

Why do they snore in their sleep?

According to statistics, every third person on the planet snores. Among children, 5% suffer from snoring, among young and middle-aged people it is about 15-30%, and among the elderly, the number of snorers increases to 40% or more. Why does a person start snoring in his sleep? To better understand the causes of this condition, you should first understand the mechanisms of its occurrence.

The mechanism of snoring

When breathing, air passes through the pharynx into the larynx, and then through the trachea and bronchi enters the lungs. The pharynx is a canal that connects the nasal cavity and mouth with the larynx and esophagus. When we are not sleeping, the brain keeps our muscles in good shape. This also applies to the muscles that form the walls of the pharynx. Thanks to this control “from above”, the airways remain well passable for air currents throughout the day.

So why do people snore when they fall asleep? During sleep, all muscles relax. If the lumen of the upper respiratory tract was initially narrowed (for example, by fatty deposits around the pharynx, excess tissues of the soft palate, enlarged tonsils, etc.), then their walls can approach and touch each other during sleep. When inhaling and exhaling, the air passes with effort through the narrowed and partially blocked by soft tissues pharyngeal canal. The walls of the throat begin to vibrate and hit each other, causing snoring. This explains why people snore at night.

If the walls of the pharynx close completely, during respiratory movements, air cannot overcome this obstacle and enter the lungs. There are pauses in breathing during sleep – episodes of apnea . When they last longer than 10 seconds (more often this period is 20-60 seconds, sometimes even up to 2-3 minutes), a complication of “normal” snoring is diagnosed: obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. This condition is a direct threat to human life and health . Every night, the brain, heart and other organs experience oxygen starvation. Against this background, the risk of heart attack and stroke, sudden death in a dream, increases dramatically. It is the syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea that explains high blood pressure at night and in the first 30 minutes after waking up.

Due to the fact that the brain reacts to oxygen starvation with awakenings (which a person usually does not remember in the morning), the deep sleep phase disappears or is sharply reduced. Result: the patient experiences a breakdown and depressed mood during the day, his intellectual abilities decrease, memory and attention worsen, the production of important hormones is disrupted, potency worsens, the risk of heart attack, stroke, etc. increases.

Causes of snoring

These may be the causes of snoring :

  • weight gain (body mass index 30 kg/m2 or more);
  • alcohol abuse;
  • taking sleeping pills;
  • smoking;
  • allergic and vasomotor rhinitis;
  • nasal polyps;
  • enlarged pharyngeal tonsil (adenoids) or enlarged palatine tonsils (tonsillitis);
  • narrowness of the nasal passages (congenital feature);
  • curvature of the nasal septum;
  • small or sloping backward jaw;
  • hypothyroidism, myxedema;
  • body aging.

We have listed only a few reasons, but it must be said that this list is not exhaustive.

Clinical example . A 29-year-old man came to the Sleep Medicine Center for a consultation with a somnologist . He claims to have been snoring almost since childhood, but only now he decided to deal with this problem, as his snoring causes growing dissatisfaction with his relatives. From the very first seconds of communication, it became obvious why this person snores. From the side it was noticeable that he had a beveled small lower jaw – a feature of the structure of the skull. No other possible causes of snoring were found during the examination.

We recommended that this patient use a special intraoral device that pushes the mandible forward . The man began to use it, and the snoring disappeared. The patient quickly got used to the new “device” and now uses it every night.

Why do women snore

Women who snore ask themselves, “Why did I start snoring? After all, I’m not a man! However, women snore for the same reasons as men. Differences exist only in what causes of snoring come first among representatives of one sex or another.

In women, snoring often occurs during a period of serious hormonal changes: during pregnancy and during menopause. In the first case, vasomotor rhinitis occurs, provoked by changes in the hormonal status. In addition, pregnant women are rapidly increasing body weight. All this leads to the appearance of snoring, which often interferes with the sleep of a bed partner.

During menopause, the production of sex hormones that contributed to maintaining muscle tone decreases, and the turgor of the skin and mucous membranes decreases. The muscles of the pharynx weaken, soft tissues sag – it turns out that a woman snores in her sleep.

There are other reasons for women’s snoring. Women are more likely to use sleeping pills to combat insomnia and are more likely to take sedatives. When using them, a person snores heavily. The explanation is simple: sleep medications additionally relax the muscles of the pharynx. Sleeping pills also increase the brain’s threshold for responding to lack of oxygen, which leads to longer pauses in breathing in patients with sleep apnea and more severe snoring when breathing resumes.

Why do men snore

Men who see a sleep doctor often remark, “I didn’t snore before. Why did I start snoring now? The reasons may be different, and a feature of male snoring is a more frequent combination of several provoking factors at once, leading to its appearance. Among the most significant causes in men, it is worth noting obesity, smoking, and alcohol abuse.

Causes of baby snoring

A child can also snore. At least 5% of children snore, while one or two small patients out of a hundred are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. This complication of snoring is fraught with serious consequences:

  • violations of the mental and physical development of the child;
  • the appearance of hyperactivity and aggressiveness, the deterioration of social adaptation in the children’s team.

main causes of children’s snoring and OSAS:

  • adenoids and chronic tonsillitis;
  • allergic rhinitis;
  • obesity, etc.

Having dealt with the causes of snoring, it should be said about the existing methods for solving this problem. At the same time, one should not forget that the choice of a method for treating uncomplicated snoring is directly related to the cause that causes it. And the method that gives an effect in one case, in another situation, may be completely ineffective.

To date, such types of snoring treatment are practiced as:

  • Medical treatment.

Nasal drops, sprays and special tablets are used. Examples of drugs: Asonor ( Asonor ), Nasonex ( Nasonex ), Sominorm ( Sominorm ), Silence ( Silence ), Slipeks ( Sleepex ), Snorstop ( SnoreStop ), etc.

  • Operative treatment.

Eliminates excess soft tissue in the nasopharynx and oropharynx. There are surgical, laser and radio wave methods.

  • Treatment with folk remedies.

Ineffective remedies and procedures for snoring.

  • intraoral devices .

There are various types of devices that eliminate snoring or reduce its intensity.

to contact a specialist when snoring occurs and, even more so, when breathing stops in a dream . A careful comprehensive examination of the patient and work on eliminating the true causes of snoring are the keys to solving the problem in the absolute number of cases.

Specialists will be interested in watching a recording of a lecture on the causes and development of sleep apnea.

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