Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures and the resulting sound due to obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping.
In some cases the sound may be soft, but in other cases, it can be rather loud and quite unpleasant. Generally speaking, the structures involved are the uvula and soft palate. The irregular airflow is caused by a passageway blockage and usually due to one of the following:
- Throat weakness, causing the throat to close during sleep
- Mispositioned jaw, often caused by tension in the muscles
- Fat gathering in and around the throat
- Obstruction in the nasal passageway
- The tissues at the top of airways touching each other causing vibrations
- Relaxants such as alcohol or drugs relaxing throat muscles
- Sleeping on one's back, which may result in the tongue dropping to the back of the mouth.
Statistics on snoring are often contradictory, but at least 30% of adults and perhaps as many as 50% of people in some demographics snore.One survey of 5,713 Italian residents identified habitual snoring in 24% of men and 13.8% of women, rising to 60% of men and 40% of women aged 60 to 65 years; this suggests an increased susceptibility to snoring as age increases.
ImpactsSnoring is known to cause sleep deprivation to snorers and those around them, as well as daytime drowsiness, irritability, lack of focus and decreased libido. It has also been suggested that it can cause significant psychological and social damage to sufferers. Multiple studies reveal a positive correlation between loud snoring and risk of heart attack (about +34% chance) and stroke (about +67% chance).
Though snoring is often considered a minor affliction, snorers can sometimes suffer severe impairment of lifestyle. The between-subjects trial by Armstrong et al. discovered a statistically significant improvement in marital relations after snoring was surgically corrected. This was confirmed by evidence from Gall et al., Cartwright and Knight and Fitzpatrick et al.
New studies associate loud "snoring" with the development of carotid artery atherosclerosis and the risk of stroke. Researchers hypothesize that loud snoring creates turbulence in carotid artery blood flow closest to the airway. Generally speaking, increased turbulence irritates blood cells and has previously been implicated as a cause of atherosclerosis.