It’s estimated that around 20 per cent of the population snores at night. Snoring isn’t physically harmful to the person who snores, but it is highly irritating to anyone kept awake by the noise. More men snore than women, with around one quarter of males prone to snoring. Snoring may also be a symptom of significant sleep-disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnoea.
During sleep, the muscles of the soft palate and uvula (the structures found in the back of the throat) tend to relax and vibrate when the person breathes. This happens both when breathing through the nose or the open mouth. This relaxed tissue vibrates as air moves back and forth across it, making the characteristic noise.
Sleep deprivation and fatigue
Snoring isn’t harmful and can be left untreated with no ill effects, although sometimes a person can snore so loudly that they constantly wake themselves during the night and this can lead to long-term sleep deprivation and fatigue. Snoring has also been known to put strain on a marriage, since the spouse is regularly denied a good night’s sleep and may move to another room.
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea
Snoring may be a symptom of significant sleep-disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnoea. This occurs when the walls of the throat come together during sleep and block the airway between the voice box and the back of the nose. After a few seconds, the sleeper makes a strong breathing effort and restarts breathing. A person with this disorder might wake up hundreds of times every night. Treatments are available. If your partner has concerns about your breathing pattern discuss it with your Doctor.