What is Snoring?


Snoring is the sound resulting from a vibration of the airways at the back of your throat and only occurs during sleep.

The part of your throat that vibrates is called the pharynx and is located right behind your tongue.

Several small muscles normally hold your throat open when you are awake, but when you fall asleep, these muscles relax. This allows the pharynx to collapse, touching the back of the tongue and narrowing the back of the throat.  When you breathe in, and out the pharynx will vibrate more easily make a noise.

The narrower the space at the back of your throat, the more easily the pharynx will vibrate and the louder you will snore.

The sound can be soft but is often loud and unpleasant.

Whilst it is not uncommon for individuals to snore to some degree, severe chronic snoring can impact your sleep, overall health and may be an indication of a more serious underlying health issue known as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

Factors which increase the problem:

  •  Excess weight increases your likelihood of having extra fat around the neck which narrows the space in your throat.
  •  Breathing through the mouth means you are more likely to snore as the walls of the back of your throat vibrate more easily than the walls at the back of your nose
  •  A blocked nose will mean that you have to breathe through the mouth
  •  Sleeping on your back causing your tongue fall directly back
  •  Nasal polyps, a large tongue, thyroid swellings or large tonsils and adenoids (often seen in children) can all narrow  the airway
  •  Allergies, hay fever and smoking
  •  Any  substance which causes your muscles to relax ie; alchohol or medications
  •  People born with a smaller airway than norma will have a higher chance of snoring
  •  Pregnancy

You may not be aware that you are a snorer.  It is often a bed partner or family member who first notices the problem due to the impact of of loud noise on their sleep.  If someone does alert you to the problem or you are concerned about the possibility  Snorelab can be helpful application to record and track snoring.  If the recording indicates a problem it is important  to arrange a consultation with a sleep specialist along with a sleep study to help establish whether your snoring is a social problem or a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.

Once you have a diagnosis an appropriate treatment can be determined.