Snoring

Why Do We Snore? Of the 88 million people in this country who snore, nearly half do so on a regular basis. And although one theory holds that snoring is a sleeping person's natural noisemaking defense against predators, it is, in fact, a symptom of overcrowding in the back of the throat.

When we are awake, the muscles of the throat hold the throat open, so that air passes in smoothly as we breathe. During sleep, these muscles relax and the throat sags inward. The tissues (including the soft palate, uvula and tonsils) relax and vibrate against the back of the throat during breathing, creating quite a bit of noise. Think of the noise a balloon makes when you let the air out of it. That noise is not unlike snoring, and it shows how soft structures can create noise when they flap against each other.

Is Snoring Dangerous? Yes! Snorers can sleep poorly and suffer reduced daytime alertness with a subsequent increase in traffic and workplace accidents. In its most severe form, it is an indicator of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where a person’s airway either partially or completely closes off during sleep.

Snoring is both a social and a medical problem. It can be disruptive to family life, frequently forcing partners to sleep separately.  Snorers become unwelcome roommates on vacations or business trips, and cause other family members sleepless nights, which often leads to resentment.