Relax. Close your eyes. Leave your worries behind and slumber into the quiet world of sleep one breath at a time. It feels so good until you’re awaken by your snoring partner. Suddenly, you’re back, wide awake, staring at your partner who is snoring like a mooing cow. You think to yourself, it’s unfair!
Snoring is many things, from that stealer of sleep to relationship saboteur. The pathology of what makes us snore is thankfully much simpler. When you fall asleep, all of the muscles and soft tissues in your neck, throat and airway relax. As you then inhale (our breathing rate is around 15 to 20 breaths a minute) the air is forced over these relaxed and floppy structures, causing them to vibrate. It is these vibrations that we hear as a snore.
It’s normal to snore but it wouldn’t hurt to monitor the frequency of it.
Frequency of snoring is essentially intermittent or chronic. Intermittent snoring is often caused by something out of the ordinary for you, such as excessive alcohol, which relaxes your neck muscles even more and pushes you into a deeper sleep – it is a sedative, remember. Chronic snoring is more likely defined by fixed issues (although not, as you will see, entirely irremediable) such as only being able to sleep on your back or having a structural issue with your airway (like being punched in the face too many times).
Snoring varies. Some aren’t so bad, while some can really be deafening. The severity of snoring can be graded from one to three, three being severe.
Grade-one (mild) snoring: This is infrequent snoring that has no health impact on you and may only lead to minor relationship issues.
Grade-two (moderate) snoring: This is snoring three or more days a week that may contribute to some daytime fatigue and more fatal relationship issues.
Grade-three (severe) snoring: This is heavy and loud snoring on a regular basis that can have physical, mental and social health problems – including obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – and being dumped.
Snoring can be very loud, depending on the grade.
A simple grade-one snoring is around 100 to 300Hz, which, compared to up to 1,000Hz for grade three (OSA territory), is a playful whisper.
Not everybody who snores has sleep apnea. Nonetheless, snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea. That’s the reason why there’s a need to see a doctor if the snoring is frequent and severe. Sleep apnea is a serious health condition that needs immediate medical attention.
Snoring may be seen as