Why do people snore?
Snoring is a low frequency noise that is produced by the vibration of the soft palate and back part of the tongue. These vibrations are caused by the turbulent flow of air as it passes through a narrowing in our throat. The soft palate and back part of the tongue flaps like a flag in the wind to give rise to the low frequency sound we recognize as snoring.
Air passing through our throat becomes turbulent when it has to squeeze through a narrowing. The area of narrowing can be found at the level of the nose, soft palate or back of tongue. Like the turbulent currents of a river as it passes through a constriction between two rocks, air that passes through a narrowing in our throat becomes turbulent.
Someone who has a blocked nose or sinus infection may start to snore. Those with repeated tonsil infections, which cause the tonsils to swell and enlarge, may also develop snoring. A very common reason for snoring occurs in those who are obese or have recently put on weight and start to snore.
Can snoring affect the quality of sleep?
A snorer can create noise and disturbance for bed partners and family. He or she deprives other family members of deep sleep and rest. Snoring can be a cause of marital discord, divorce, family embarrassment and other social problems.
Very severe snorers with extremely narrowed airways may go into episodes during sleep when they stop breathing for a few seconds. These episodes are called obstructive sleep apnea, which literally means ‘no breathing’. Sufferers with this condition are unable to enjoy deep restful sleep.