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How do Throat Muscles Contribute to Snoring?

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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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Snoring can be a very disruptive thing when it comes to a person's sleep. Poor sleeping patterns result in fatigue and irritability throughout the day. When the body doesn't receive enough rest, health problems may arise and a person's quality of life can lessen a great deal.

The sound of snoring originates inside of a person's mouth. Some people snore while sleeping with their mouths open, while others snore while sleeping with their mouths closed. Some may only snore while sleeping on their back and others will snore regardless of the position they are in. When the airway in the back of the throat narrows from sleeping in a certain position or there are abnormalities in the throat muscles, snoring will result. An excessive amount of throat tissue or nasal tissue makes a person more prone to snoring.

Each time we inhale in our sleep, the air we inhale enters through the nose or mouth. It then passes the soft palate, which is located in the back of the mouth at the roof. Our tongue and the upper part of our throat meet in the back of the mouth. This area is collapsible, and if the back of the throat is blocked or becomes narrow, the soft palate and uvula vibrate against the throat, causing the sound that is heard when a person snores. The more narrow that a person's airway is, the louder they will snore.

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Snoring can be caused by a number of reasons. Some are within our control while others are not. Certain hereditary traits, such as a cleft palate or enlarged adenoids, can cause snoring. As we age, our throats tend to become narrower, making us more prone to snoring. Sinus issues or allergies can block airways and cause a person to snore.

While there are several reasons for snoring that are beyond our control, there are also reasons for snoring that are within our control. There is more fatty tissue in the back of a person's throat when they are out of shape and overweight. A person who smokes may snore because smoking can create nasal congestion and relax the throat muscles.

Drinking alcohol and taking various medications before bed will relax the throat muscles. When a person sleeps on their back, it makes it easier for the throat muscles to relax and block the airway, making them snore. Prolonged snoring may lead to a more serious condition called sleep apnea and may need treated by a physician to eliminate the problem.

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discographer
Post 3

@ddljohn-- That's absolutely right! We don't snore during the day because we are using our throat muscles. When we are sleep, the muscles relax and snoring happens. This is also why sleeping pills and any medications with sedatives cause snoring or make it worse.

I usually don't snore, except when I have a cold and I've taken antihistamine cold medicine. I sleep like a baby, but apparently snore very badly the whole night.

candyquilt
Post 2

This is great information. Ever since those nasal strips came out, I thought that snoring was caused by blocked nasal passages. I had no idea that it has more to do with the throat and throat muscles.

I don't know why this never occurred to me before, but I remember my cousin saying that she will never have a snoring problem because she's a singer. I know that singing makes the throat muscles stronger and I'm sure singers have to do all sort of throat exercises daily. If the throat muscles are strong, they won't collapse at night which means no snoring! Maybe I should sing in the shower more often!

ddljohn
Post 1

My mom snores and has really light sleep. Our rooms are next to each other and if I make a noise or walk by, she wakes up. I know she has woken because she is snoring one second and the next second she's not.

Even though she is in the exact same position and has not moved at all, there is something about being asleep that causes her to snore.

Do you think it's because the throat muscles are more relaxed while we sleep than when we are awake and that's why we snore? Or is it the way we breathe when we are asleep?

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