The rest you yearn for may turn into a nightmare when loud wheezes and hisses start to take away that deep sleep, eventually ruining your night. What's worse is when roommates, one after the other, unconsciously turn up the volume of their snores like an orchestra.
Although hearing someone's snoring can be an annoying experience, you have to understand this is not just a bad sleeping habit.
"Snoring is definitely a bad sign," says Dr. Thad Hinunangan, a physician at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).
It may seem like a normal sleeping condition, but it has underlying health risks for the person. The condition occurs when there is an obstruction in the air that passes through the nostrils to the posterior part of the nose and mouth. "The area in the oropharynx, where the tongue meets the soft palate, is collapsible," Dr. Hinunangan explains. "Any obstruction in the passage of air in this area causes snoring."
Snoring is also brought about by sinus infection during allergy season, having a long soft palate and/or uvula which narrow down the passage of nose to the throat, and poor muscle and tissues around the area.
According to the American Academy of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, approximately 45 percent of adults snore. It's a common condition for men and overweight individuals due to bulky throat tissues and narrow airways.
Bad for someone's sleep
Occasional snoring can be tolerable. But constant loud snoring may affect your bed partner and their sleeping patterns.
Aside from affecting someone's health, it also says a lot about your own.
The most common and serious condition that may occur due to snoring is having obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Hinunangan explains sleep apnea is characterized by multiple episodes of breathing pauses greater than 10 seconds at a time. "This causes lower amounts of oxygen in the blood, increasing the risk for heart attacks and other serious medical conditions."
Bad for the heart
Snoring affect the heart too and is associated with strokes and heart attacks. It can cause high blood pressure and an enlarged heart.
The wheezes and whistles a person creates as he snores may cause trauma and inflammation in the heart's artery. Dr. Hinunangan adds this change in the artery can lead to atherosclerosis. Health risks such as headaches, obesity, sleepiness during the day, and fatigue are also among the effects of snoring.
Manny Rodolfo, 54, is a self-confessed snorer. Although he does not have an idea how loud he sounds while asleep, he gets the message as soon as he wakes up and hears his relatives complain.
"Aware naman ako na malakas akong maghilik," Rodolfo shares. “Siguro dahil medyo malaki ako. Lagi akong ginigising ng mga kapatid ko kapag natutulog kami kasi hindi daw sila makatulog. Pero hindi ko pinapansin. Tuloy pa rin ako sa pagtulog."
He tries to change sleeping positions, like sleeping on his side, to stop his snoring. However, his snoring just continues after a couple of minutes. When asked if he ever intends to consult a specialist, he hesitated as he thinks it's unnecessary for his age.
Tips for a snore-free night
Dr. Hinunangan explains seeking medical help can aid when snoring becomes a serious problem. "Consulting with an otorhinolaryngologist is warranted, especially if the snoring is bothersome and affects one’s sleep and functioning."
An otorhinolaryngologist or a sleep specialist can administer diagnostic tests like monitoring of sleep patterns, therapeutic services, split test, sleep study, and multiple sleep latency test.
The Mayo Clinic encourages lifestyle changes and simple sleep style techniques before hitting the sack.
It also helps to raise the head of the bed to about four inches higher than the usual. Aside from this, you can also try sleeping on your side so the tongue is prevented from sticking out and partially obstructing the airflow.
Lose weight, quit smoking, take sedatives, and moderately drink alcohol, Mayo Clinic adds. These let the muscles in your body, including the tissues in your throat to relax, which affects the airflow. If you have a bed partner who snores, or you're a loud snorer too, give each other a break and see a doctor.
After all, all we long for is to wake up with a positive vibe after a good night's rest.