Why do we Snore?

In simple terms, we snore when our body is not able to move air freely through the nose and throat - while we are asleep. In terms of anatomy, snoring is a result of a partially closed upper airway or the upper respiratory tract – that includes the nose and throat. Excessive relaxation of the neck muscles is the leading reason for snoring. This is because the upper airway partly closes and becomes too narrow, and it causes very little air to pass through to the lungs.

Now, let’s explore the leading causes of snoring:

  • Body weight: Being overweight is one of the foremost causes of snoring. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is on the higher side, you are more prone to snoring. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, consuming a healthy diet, and sleeping and waking early will largely help to regulate your body weight, and eventually lead to less or no snoring.
  • Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs: Smoking and consuming alcohol disturb the muscles of the throat and upper airway, thereby causing breathing problems, and ultimately snoring. Some drugs and medications also cause snoring, as they cause excessive muscle relaxation.
  • Built: Body structure and physical attributes of individuals are significant causes for snoring. This means men are more likely to snore than women, as they have narrower air passages. Genetic disorders that give way to a narrow throat, cleft palate, and enlarged adenoids, also cause snoring among many people.
  • Age: Once your body starts to age, the throat becomes narrower. This causes the muscle tone in the throat to lessen, and this leads to snoring. Growing old is inevitable, but snoring can be controlled with lifestyle changes, setting proper bedtime routines, and throat exercises.
  • Blocked nose or nasal cavity: Changes in climate and pollution are often the prime reason for a blocked nose or congestion, due to cold or allergy. This, in turn, makes breathing a cumbersome job, which creates a vacuum in the throat, thus giving way to snoring.

Now that we have talked about the reasons for snoring, in the next sections - we will be discussing:
"Impact of Snoring" & "How to Stop Snoring"


Sleep Revitalizes your Mind, Body, & Heart

The body goes under many transformations, while it is in the state of rest during sleep. There are many essential functions that take place in the body such as tissue repair, memory and energy restoration, release of essential hormones, muscle relaxation, and others. While you are asleep, the brain releases indispensable hormones that promote tissue growth. This process helps your body rejuvenate from the daily hustle bustle. Moreover, tissue growth aids in the recovery from wounds or cuts. Sunita Kumar, Co-Director, Centre for Sleep Disorders, Loyola University Medical Centre, aptly remarks that during sleep the body produces more white blood cells, to fight countless bacteria and viruses1. The heart rate also registers a dip during sleep, which according to Ms. Kumar, strengthens the heart as it is at rest with lowered activity. Moreover, a good night’s sleep also reduces the chances of getting afflicted with heart diseases.

Good Sleep = Sharp Memory

Sleep is a time, when becomes sharp and strong. Sleep quantity and quality play a fundamental role in determining what one remembers and what one doesnt. Therefore, development of long-term memory (LTM) from short-term memory (STM) happens during sleep.  Scientific researches state that the brain follows a different mechanism for storing memories through the hippocampus and neo-cortex areas. Hippocampus helps you to remember your life experiences (childhood memories), while the neo-cortex is responsible for remembering the concepts you learn (name of a color). Communications and sync between the two, helps in learning new data and updating old ones.

Sleep Steers Hormonal Hunger

Sleep not only affects your energy levels and mental functions, but also regulates your body weight. Improper sleep is related to the increasing cases of obesity, worldwide2. Many hormones which regulate the feeling of hunger (ghrelin) and signal the feeling of being full (leptin), are all influenced by the quality of your sleep.  Leptin: This is also known as satiety hormone, which is produced by the fat cells of the body. It prevents overeating by sending signals to the brain that the body does not require more food, as there is enough to fuel the body.  Ghrelin: This hunger hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, which signifies the body that there is need for food. This hormone rises in the body, when you feel hungry and decreases when you have consumed some food.  Studies show that people who have disrupted patterns of sleep - have larger appetite, because of higher ghrelin secretion and lowered secretion of leptin. This imbalance in the secretion of these hormones is a result of improper sleep patterns3.