What causes snoring?
Snoring is an extremely common problem and it’s often connected to a wide variety of factors, from your gender to your sleeping position to diet and lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol intake. From an anatomical perspective, snoring occurs when the air can’t move freely through your nose and throat during sleep.
As you can tell from the illustration above, this free-flow of air is usually blocked by an obstruction. When you enter deep sleep your muscles will naturally relax, including the muscles in the roof of your mouth and throat, which can sometimes become too relaxed and cause a partial block in your airway. Usually this occurs as a result of having too much throat and nasal tissue or because an outside factor, like cigarettes or alcohol, inhibits your ability to protect your airways from obstruction.
However, weight and lifestyle habits aside, there are some other, more unusual factors that can trigger a bout of snoring, which I’m going to explore in the list below!
1 – Sleep deprivation
Yes, that’s right, sleep deprivation can sometimes cause snoring which is a little be ironic really as snoring itself is often a big cause of sleep deprivation. According to the Mayo Clinic, not getting enough sleep can encourage the muscles and soft tissues in your throat to relax a little further than normal, sometimes causing them to partially block your air ways.2
So, snoring causes sleep deprivation and sleep deprivation in turn causes snoring – this can seem like a vicious cycle. However, I would first look at tackling your sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is extremely (and worryingly) common here in the UK as many of us now find it difficult to switch off before bedtime or don’t really follow a proper sleep hygiene routine.
You can work on this by taking a look at a few of my blogs on the subject, which I have listed for you below. It’s also important to bear in mind that sleeping pills can sometimes contribute to feelings of drowsiness and disorientation the following day so I would try to opt for a natural sleep remedy, like our Dormeasan drops. Dormeasan contains a soothing blend of Valerian and Hops, helping to relax your nervous system and making it easier for you to unwind and drop off at night. It also won’t have any negative repercussions that will haunt you the next day!
Further reading on sleep deprivation
Are you digitally sleep deprived?
What does sleep deprivation do to your hormones?
6 surprising foods to avoid before bedtime
What nutrients do you need to get a good night’s sleep?
2 – Indigestion
Ever noticed that you seem to snore after a particularly heavy meal or overindulging when it comes to sweets and cakes? Indigestion is a real trigger when it comes to snoring and this is primarily due to symptoms such as acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs as a result of your stomach acid leaking backwards and upwards into the oesophagus. It’s quite common, particularly if you’ve perhaps overdone it a bit when it comes to spicy or fatty foods, and it can make you more prone to snoring. This is because, when you sleep, it can make it easier for your stomach acid to back up through your airways, impairing your breathing and thereafter causing snoring.2
One of the best things you can do to combat acid reflux is to monitory what you’re eating. It might be a good idea to keep a food diary so you have an idea of what foods are causing this particular symptom and you could try to employ better eating habits, making sure that you’re chewing your foods properly and avoiding obvious triggers such as fizzy drinks.
Our Digestion Advisor Ali also often recommends trying bitter herbs in addition to these measures as they can help to support your digestive processes and encourage the secretions of your stomach and pancreas, making sure that your food is broken down properly. Digestisan is often her remedy of choice as it contains a combination of freshly harvested artichoke, dandelion, peppermint and boldo, helping to relieve symptoms such as acid reflux and bloating.
3 – Stress
Do you find yourself grinding your teeth in your sleep? Unsurprisingly, stress plays a big role in increasing muscle tension which then places more pressure on your jaw joints. As a result, when you start grinding your teeth at night, it can move your tongue, pushing it back in your throat and narrowing your airway.3
Of course, one simple way to solve this problem would be to invest in a mouth guard but it doesn’t really tackle the underlying problem. If stress has you gnashing your teeth at night, then you need to take a step back and examine your emotions. Why are you feeling this way and what can you do about it? I talk a lot more about stress on our mental wellbeing section of the website but I’ve highlighted a few blogs below you may wish to read in order to get some advice and tips for managing stress.
Your top 10 stress busting tips
Breathing tips to relieve stress
How to be more optimistic
7 suggestions for changing stressful eating habits
You could also try a gentle stress remedy like AvenaCalm, which may help you to cope better with stressful emotions or mild symptoms of anxiety. It’s prepared using organically grown oat herb and may also be useful in support your sleep patterns too. Just make sure that you do not take this tincture alongside Dormeasan as we never recommend taking two remedies with such similar indications at once.
4 – Sleeping pills
If you’re having trouble sleeping, sleeping pills and sedatives may seem like a good option. However, strong sedatives, such as diazepam which is often prescribed for anxiety, can sometimes increase bouts of snoring. Similar to alcohol, these drugs can cause the muscles and tissues in your throat to relax which can obstruct your airways and bring on a dreaded wave of snoring.4 If you are being prescribed these medications, it’s important that you do discuss side-effects with your doctor so know what to expect and have the chance to explore other options.
5 – Age
Aging brings with it a lot of change, including a noticeable shift towards snoring when you start to nod off. There are a variety of reasons that can account for why you become more susceptible to snoring as you age, ranging from hormonal shifts, to weight gain to changes in muscle tone. However, while reversing the ageing process is impossible, there are still steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability to snoring.
The best thing you can do is to try to stay as active as possible. If you start to become sedentary, then you may also experience a fluctuation in your weight. Since obesity is a major contributing factor to snoring, you want to try and avoid putting on too much weight. It’s also worth noting that your diet can play a role in this too, so make sure you’re getting plenty of fresh fruit and veg and cutting back on refined sugars and fatty foods.
If you want more advice about natural ways to counter snoring, I’d highly recommend reading my blog, ‘Natural Ways to Stop Snoring’ for further tips and advice about treatment!