What is snoring?Snoring (partially obstructed breathing during sleep) is noisy breathing through the mouth and nose during sleep. It can occur when you are breathing in or out. Snoring is a noise produced when an individual breathes (usually produced when breathing in) during sleep which in turn causes vibration of the soft palate and uvula (that thing that hangs down in the
back of the throat). The word "apnea" means the abscence of breathing.
All snorers have incomplete obstruction (a block) of the upper airway. Many habitual snorers have complete episodes of upper airway obstruction where the airway is completly blocked for a period of time, usually 10 seconds or longer. This silence is usually followed by snorts and gasps as the individual fights to take a breath. When an individual snores so loudly that it disturbs others, obstructive sleep apnea is almost certain to be present.
Snoring is very common and only rarely indicates sleep apnea. Around 40 per cent of all adults snore. Snoring can be very annoying for a partner who is kept awake by the noise. Often, because of this, couples sleep in separate rooms. Snoring is three times more common in obese persons; it ranges from being an annoyance to indicating obstructive sleep apnea. Snoring may be worsened by alcoholic beverages, tranquilizers, hypnotics, and antihistamines. Heavy snorers should have a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, palate, throat, and neck.
Sometimes, however, snoring can be a sign of a serious sleep disorder called sleep apnea. This means you have periods when you are not breathing for more than 10 seconds while you sleep. These periods of "apnea" are indicated by a long period of silence just after you have been snoring. They are followed by a sudden snort or gasp when breathing resumes. Then, snoring starts all over again. If you have sleep apnea, this cycle generally happens several times a night.