There are a couple of things that can stand in the way of a good night's sleep - at the worse, a howling dog and a snoring husband.
The rule book says that six to eight hours of sleep is a must for a healthy lifestyle. But in our bustling cities, not always do we have the luxury of a space with nature's soothing rhythms or absolute silence. I remember the time I had visited Kerala and was staying at a cottage right in front of the beach. Listening to the mighty waves beating against the shore was certainly one of the most peaceful things amid the silence that otherwise would have filled the room. Now, juxtaposing the same situation with one where your ears are subjected to the harsh, hoarse sound coming from the person sleeping next you or probably in the next room - bummer!
What triggers snoring in a person is his or her inability to breathe properly while sleeping. In the words of science, when the air movement is partially obstructed while breathing - as one sleeps - it causes vibrations in the throat leading to loud, hoarse sounds. For some, it may not affect them to that extent, but in many cases it can lead to some serious repercussions, triggering chronic sleep deprivation and obstructive sleep apnea (cessation in breathing that can last from a few seconds up to a minute).
Health experts have noted how loss of sleep resulting from snoring can lead to fatigue, lack of focus, lethargy, drowsiness and so on. Many studies have revealed it could increase risks of stroke and heart attack. Loud snoring is also known to cause disturbances in the carotid artery that is closely situated to the airway. According to the National Sleep Foundation, snoring is more common in obese men but affects women as well. It becomes more serious as the person ages.
What else trigger snoring?
National Sleep Foundation describes a host of different factors that can cause snoring, most importantly uvula and the soft palate. Usually, while sleeping, our throat muscles tend to get into a mode of relaxation and the tongue falls back. If a person is obese or older, they tend to have extra fatty tissues around their neck or loose throat muscles that can obstruct breathing.
"The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring. Sometimes the walls of the throat collapse completely so that it is occluded, creating a condition called apnea. This is a serious condition which requires medical attention." - National Sleep Foundation
Some of the other factors may include obstructed nasal passage, and nose and throat abnormalities including nasal polyps and enlarged tonsils. Inflammation, allergies, respiratory infections, nasal and mouth anatomy, and sinusitis can also be blamed at times. Not many of you would know this, but alcohol is a potent muscle relaxant and may lead to relaxed throat muscles causing narrowed throat passage and snoring.
What can help?
One of the most common causes of snoring is something which is in our own control - lifestyle. From maintaining healthy weight, avoiding smoking and alcohol, adopting correct sleeping posture to probably just changing your pillow; you can phase out this cacophony out of your life just by tweaking your lifestyle a bit. Often people tend to snore when they sleep on their back, in such a case, one should try sleeping on the sides instead.
1) Choosing a higher pillow will elevate your head while sleeping that can help ease out snoring.
2) Health experts believe that hygiene can also play an important role in curbing snoring. Make sure that your environment is clean and dust free. This can ward of any respiratory infections or allergies that may otherwise trigger conditions facilitating obstructive breathing.
3) It is also believed that one should avoid taking sedatives or tranquilizers before bedtime.4) Clearing your nasal passage or using nasal saline rinses just before sleeping may also help, in a certain cases, one may also resort to nasal strips.
5) Consume enough fluids and stay hydrated. According to studies, lack of hydration causes nasal secretions to turn sticky, which may obstruct smooth breathing. Apart from these, for those who can't feel any better, surgical options or other modes of treatment including taking help of different devices, oral appliances and sometimes a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure device) may help with the condition, however, these are prescribed only under medical supervision.
Being a little cautious with one's eating habits can keep snoring at bay. Those who have sensitive or weak throat should avoid heavy meals, dairy products and caffeine at least a couple of hours prior to sleeping, however, one can always opt for herbal and organic beverages like green or black tea with lemon and honey. Herbal and organic teas along with holy basil, clove and pepper are known to have phlegm and congestion reducing properties and help in clearing nasal passage. Many believe that dairy products are not a great option during congestion, in such a case, switching to soy milk may help. One should also be mindful of what one has for dinner - avoid consuming foods that might cause inflammation in throat tissues. Greasy and oily foods should also be consumed in moderation. Consider cooking your meals in olive oil instead of regular oil and try swapping red meat with fish at times.
Keeping all of the above in mind might certainly help with those disturbed sleeps and noisy nights. In case these are of a little help then consider jotting down your symptoms and do not refrain from seeking medical help immediately.