Nobody likes to hear that they’ve suddenly started snoring. And if you have, there’s no need to worry, as there are things you can do to help combat this issue. Still, you might ask yourself questions like: So what now, I’m going to become a regular snorer? Am I going to wake up to my partner’s frowns, day in and day out? And what about my health – is this sudden snoring a sign of something more serious?
It’s worth saying that this sudden onset of snoring doesn’t have to mean that there’s something seriously wrong with your body.
In fact, snoring is quite common.
So let’s go over some basics about snoring, including how and why it happens.
How Common is Snoring?
Well, as it turns out, almost half of the world’s population has experienced snoring at some point in their lives.
“An estimated 45 percent of adults snore occasionally, while 25 percent snore regularly,” says Hopkins Medicine.
People are more likely to snore if they are men, especially middle-aged or older, or if they are postmenopausal women. Also, being overweight significantly increases your chances of snoring. Basically, the likelihood of snoring increases as your age and weight increase.
What is Snoring and Why Do People Snore?
Snoring is a sound. It’s the sound of breathing being obstructed for some reason – usually, it has to do with having a soft palate or uvula which then collapses on the airway, and therefore restricting your airflow. So when this happens, the soft tissues within your airway vibrate and make that famous, irritating noise. This vibration of the soft palate is the most common reason behind snoring.
Snoring can also be the result of poor muscle tone of the throat muscles, or protruding, bulky tissue in your throat.
Other times, snoring is caused by an underlying health issue that somehow affects your breathing during sleep. This can range from allergies or sinus infection causing nasal congestion, to deviated septum or the existence of nasal polyps, which are benign growths in the nose, as well as sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which is a serious condition in which your breathing temporarily stops and then starts again (during sleep).
The Reasons Behind Snoring
Okay, so you’ve started snoring all of a sudden and you want to know what could potentially be behind it.
While we briefly listed a few reasons in the previous section, let’s take a more in-depth look in this section as to what might be causing your sudden onset of snoring.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that manifests in the obstruction of breathing during sleep. This means that if you suffer from sleep apnea, you will temporarily stop breathing or take shallow breaths while sleeping, without knowing it. This can happen throughout the night and may cause a range of other health issues if left untreated.
Sleep apnea can be the culprit behind heart disease and high blood pressure, poor sleep, and can cause daytime sleepiness, diabetes, etc.
Snoring in sleep apnea has a distinctive sound and it differs a bit from other types of snoring. So, for example, the sleep apnea snoring will sound more akin to choking or gasping, rather than sounding raspy.
The best way to see whether you suffer from sleep apnea is to talk to a medical professional. You will probably need to do a sleep study so they can make an accurate diagnosis. In this case, the snoring treatment will depend on the sleep apnea treatment, which usually requires using a CPAP machine.
Your Nose is Congested
Nasal congestion is another common cause of snoring. Lots of conditions can make your nasal passages congested, such as colds and the flu, sinus infections, and allergies.
Stuff like nasal polyps, which are non-cancerous growths in the inside of your nasal passages can also cause snoring.
The way you sleep can also be the reason why you snore. Have you recently changed your usual sleeping position, and now you sleep on your back, instead of your side?
If the answer is yes, then consider switching again. Because of gravity, sleeping on your back makes the soft tissue which is a part of your upper airway to fall down and obstruct your airways, making you snore while you sleep.
If you’ve been sleep-deprived, not only is it bad for your overall health, but it can also cause you to snore. Sleep deprivation makes your throat muscles relax too much (which obstructs your breathing).
Some people are just born with narrow airways which make them much more prone to snoring. Also, some people have a long soft palate, which puts pressure on the airways, while others have large tonsils or adenoids. These are known to narrow the airways and cause snoring.
Change in Habits
A sudden change in habits, like drinking alcohol, or taking new medications, as well abandoning your exercise plan, or gaining weight, can also make you start snoring suddenly.
Use of Alcohol or New Medications
Say you’ve hit a streak of house parties or enjoyed a little bit too much of that evening wine lately – anything that has to do with an increase of alcohol intake can negatively affect the way you sleep, and can also cause snoring.
The same goes for new medicine, as snoring can be a common side effect of some medications. If you’ve recently been prescribed a new medicine, first check if snoring is a side effect. Then you can also talk to your doctor if they can perhaps give you a different medicine, change the time when you take it, or do something about the dosage – so as to reduce soring.
Stopping Your Exercise Plan and Gaining Weight
Sometimes snoring is caused by changes in your exercise regimen. If you’ve suddenly had to stop exercising, because of an injury or lack of time, you can blame your snoring on that.
Also, if you’ve noticed you’ve gained weight, even if it’s a couple of kilos, that could also be the cause of your sudden snoring. Obesity is another common reason behind snoring.
This is because when you gain weight you gain it everywhere in your body, and it also accumulates on the tongue or the throat. This, in turn, increases the chances for the weight of the tissue to collapse on your airways. Lack of exercise also negatively affects your muscle tone, which also contributes to collapsing airways.
Smokers are much more likely to be snorers than non-smokers. This is because smoking causes inflammation to the upper airway, and that increases your chances of snoring.
Is Snoring Dangerous?
Most of the time, snoring is not dangerous for you and won’t cause any serious problems to your health.
However, you should take note of the type of snore you have (aka its sound). Is it a raspy sound, or is it a loud snore, more like gasping, sometimes even accompanied by sudden waking up?
If so, you might be suffering from sleep apnea. That should definitely be checked by a doctor because as you saw earlier, sleep apnea can cause more serious health issues in the long term.
How Can You Stop Snoring?
If you’re worried about your snoring, it might be a good idea to talk with your physician – especially if you think it might be caused by sleep apnea. Otherwise, there are some lifestyle changes you can do, which will improve your overall sleep and can also play a role in preventing snoring.
First of all, get back on that treadmill, hit the gym, start running, swimming, whatever it is that you consider enjoyable exercise. Take better care of your health, prepare a healthy meal plan, meaning more fruits and veggies and less processed foods, and don’t forget to hydrate well. Watch your weight as well – as mentioned earlier, even a couple of kilos more can cause snoring.
If you’re a smoker, stop smoking and give yourself some time for the inflammation of your upper airways to settle down.
Also, try to sleep in a different position and generally avoid sleeping on your back if it makes you snore. Sleep on your side instead.
As you can see, snoring can be caused by a lot of health factors, some less and some more serious.
Most of the time, snoring won’t be the result of any serious health issues, but just so you can be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to go for a medical checkup, which is something that should be done regularly anyway.