Although people often joke about loud snoring, it has a serious side to it. Snoring may cause severe and continuous disruption to partners sleeping next to snorers, but it also may cause serious problems for the snorer. It often progresses into conditions such as cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.
People who breathe slowly and gently through the nose find it hard to snore. Snoring occurs when we breathe faster than normal. The faster we breathe while sleeping, the more disrupted the airflow is, and combined with air pressure drop, it leads to snoring. Sometimes it’s soft, but often it’s very loud and disturbing.
Snoring may be a sign, or lead to obstructive sleep apnea. You can check if you have sleep apnea. According to research, snoring is one of the key factors of developing sleep deprivation. Buteyko breathing classes help snorers learn to breathe more softly through the nose while they’re awake. That way, their breathing pattern changes during sleep as well as during wake hours.
Why do people snore?
Turbulent airflow creates the sound we call snoring. It’s caused by noisy breathing that happens due to the flow of a large volume of air through a narrow space. It further makes the nose and throat tissues to vibrate and create the snoring sound. Snoring may affect any person, regardless of sex and age, although men are more prone to snoring than women. An estimated 30% of women snore as opposed to 45% of men.
Healthy people who don’t snore breathe lightly through their nose while sleeping. Their sleep is calm and undisturbed through the night, and they wake up rested and recharged. People who snore breathe heavily and experience various sleep disruptions because of it. They wake up feeling severe fatigue, and they also experience insomnia, dry mouth or blocked nose.
People snore through their nose, through their mouth, or both their mouth and nose. The easiest form of snoring to cure is snoring through the mouth. In these cases, all the person needs to do is learn to breathe through their nose while sleeping, and the snoring will stop. Buteyko breathing research has found that snoring can be reduced and completely eliminated by switching to nasal breathing and learning how to normalize the breathing volume and speed. The Buteyko nose clearing exercise helps restore normal breathing patterns and reduces snoring as well as other conditions that may be related to it.
If left untreated, snoring may become the precursor of sleep apnea, an unpleasant condition that may raise various health issues.
Sleep apnea is a condition that may be triggered by snoring. Its main characteristic is a complete stop in breathing for more than 10 seconds during sleeping. There are two different types of this condition: central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Sometimes people who snore have already developed sleep apnea without even knowing it. These are some of the most common sleep apnea symptoms:
- Dry throat or mouth in the morning
- Shortage of breath while doing exercise
- Restless leg syndrome during bedtime
- Waking up tired
- Fatigue during the day
Healthy sleep has five stages, the last one of them being the REM (rapid eye movement) stage. The most restful stages are the third and fourth ones, and those are the stages where we get the deepest sleep. When a person’s sleep is continuously disturbed, they can’t reach the stages of deep sleep. Instead, they stay in the first two stages and only get light rest which often isn’t enough to get them through the day without feeling dizzy.
Snoring Causes and Risk Factors
Although snoring may occur in any person, there are some known risk factors for it:
- Dental problems: Some dental problems may cause the airway in the back of the throat to narrow.
- Respiratory problems, including allergies, asthma, bronchitis, enlarged tonsils, or sinusitis, may cause snoring.
- Being older than 50: although snoring may occur at any age, the risk of it occurring is the highest with people between 50 and 60 years old.
- Being male: men snore more often than women do, according to various studies.
- Sleeping on your back
- Consuming alcohol: contrary to a popular belief that alcohol relaxes the airways, which causes snoring, alcohol triggers snoring by stimulating faster breathing. It also increases the risk of having sleep apnea episodes. Many people only snore after they’ve drunk alcohol. Those who already snore always experience the worst possible snoring after they’ve had a few drinks. Some medications have the same effect.
How to Stop Snoring
There are several guidelines you should follow if you want to stop snoring:
- Make sure to learn Buteyko breathing and practice it at least 15 minutes before going to sleep.
- Food digestion increases and speeds up breathing, so you should avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime.
- Sleep in a cool (but not cold) bedroom. It’s best to avoid heating the sleeping space because heat increases breathing and may cause snoring. An airy, cool bedroom will help you breathe.
- Change your sleeping position, especially if you sleep flat on your back. Sleeping on your back is the absolute worst position because it makes us breathe more than normal. Sleeping on your tummy is healthier, but sleeping on your left side is the best position as it allows you to breathe lighter.
Benefits of Buteyko Breathing
When you learn Buteyko breathing during exercise, you will unblock your nose and correct your breathing volume to normal levels, which will reduce snoring. By learning how to switch to nasal breathing while sleeping and unblocking the nose, your breathing volume will normalize and you will breathe calmly and quietly.
Most snoring treatments, such as nasal strips, dental corrections, and surgery, focus on expanding the airways to prevent snoring, but the Buteyko breathing method works differently. Not only does it expand the airways, but it also normalizes breathing levels.
The Buteyko Breathing Association has found that this method reduces hyperventilation, which decreases both the frequency and duration of sleep disruptions. The result is reflected in a healthy sleep pattern and decreased snoring. Hyperventilation decreases the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the arteries, which further suppresses the breathing reflex. When you obtain and maintain a normal breathing pattern, the levels of CO2 remain within normal limits and they don’t disrupt your breathing.
If you learn Buteyko control pause, you will get help with your snoring problems without any surgeries or snoring devices. Once you restore healthy, functional breathing with the help of reduced breathing exercise, the snoring will reduce and you will go back to optimal sleeping patterns.