My Dad had a snoring problem. I can still remember nights as a child hearing what sounded like a diesel truck driving through the house. This "diesel truck" was of course my Father, snoring away, much to the chagrin of the rest of the household. His snoring would often be too loud for my Mother to sleep in the same room, which is completely understandable when you take into account that I could hear his snoring from across the entire house. Since his snoring was such an imposing force on my childhood, I sought an answer to the question: why do people snore? People snore because the airway in the throat or nasal passage is blocked or restricted or as a possible symptom of sleep apnea.
In the most general sense, snoring is the vibration of the tissue in your airway. When a person sleeps, the muscles in the mouth and throat relax. As the muscles in the mouth and throat become hypotonic, airflow can be restricted by the narrowing of the airway. As the airway narrows and air is inhaled during normal breathing, the tissue can vibrate, which produces snoring.
There are people, such as my Father, who have blockages in the nasal passageway that cause snoring. These blockages are often an affliction the person is born with, but can also be caused by a broken nose or other injury. A common medical issue that can cause snoring is a deviated septum. The nasal septum is the wall dividing the nasal cavity into halves; it is composed of a central supporting skeleton covered on each side by mucous membranes (American Academy of Otolaryngology, 2014). The ideal position of the nasal septum is exactly midline. A deviated septum occurs when the septum is not in the middle of the passages, blocking one or both passages. The increased effort required by the lungs to draw air through the impeded nasal passage can cause the upper palate to contract, narrowing the airway in the throat, which results in snoring.
There are outside factors that can lead to the restriction of the air passage, such as a person's body weight. When fat stored in the neck becomes large enough to put pressure on the airways, airflow becomes restricted, even when awake. The pressure imposed by the fat on the neck can cause the sides of the airway in the throat to touch when the muscles relax, and much like blowing air through closed lips, causes vibration that results in the clamor we hear as snoring. A persons weight can also affect the airflow through their nasal passages, as the fat stored around the nose can impose pressure on the passages above the nostrils. The result of pressure placed on the nasal passages is similar to the effects of a deviated septum.
Alcohol and other muscle relaxants can cause snoring by restricting the air passages as well. Because alcohol is a muscle relaxant, the muscles at the back of the throat ease even more than usual. Research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that men, especially, have longer episodes of sleep-disordered breathing after...