October 24, 2022 3 min read

You probably know that one person who starts to saw logs the moment their eyes close. Chances are that the thought of how lucky they must be to fall asleep so easily has crossed your mind. But does snoring really mean someone is deep asleep? Or could snoring be the first sign of a health problem? 


We suggest that you keep reading to find out. We’ll also tell you what you can do to stop your or your loved ones' snoring problem.

Is Snoring a Sign of Deep Sleep?

The answer is both yes and no. 


Studies show that snoring is more prominent during deep sleep, also known as NREM stage 3 sleep or delta sleep. 


During this sleep stage, the muscles are completely relaxed, breathing slows down, and blood pressure drops. The brain’s activity is also characterized by slow delta waves. As a result, it’s hard to wake someone up from this stage, which explains why your typical snorer won’t budge when you sometimes try to wake them.


But there’s a catch. A large 2018 study found that snoring, especially due to sleep apnea, is associated with less time spent in deep sleep and more time in light sleep. So, while, yes, snoring tends to occur during deep sleep, it also tends to disrupt it. That’s why non-snorers spend more time in deep sleep than chronic snorers.

What Does It Mean When You Snore?

Snoring is loud breathing at night. It happens when there is some kind of obstruction in the upper airways, which leads to turbulent airflow that causes surrounding tissues to vibrate. The result is that hoarse or rattling noise we associate with snoring. 


Obstruction of the upper airways can happen for a wide range of reasons. Congestion from allergies or viral infections is a common cause. Acid reflux can cause tissues in your throat to swell, which can also contribute to snoring. But probably the two most common causes are greater neck circumference due to excess weight and the natural weakening of upper airway muscles that happens with age.


While most cases of snoring are temporary and relatively benign, some could indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a sleep disorder in which upper airway obstruction is so severe that it leads to 10- to 30-second pauses in breathing, sometimes up to 400 times every night! Without treatment, OSA tends to worsen and lead to a host of dangerous health problems. 

How to Stop Snoring

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and other professional associations recommend that heavy snorers seek medical advice to ensure their snoring isn’t due to sleep apnea.


Treatment for snoring depends on its causes. If your snoring is due to sleep apnea, you will likely need to receive continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy to support your breathing at night. Some patients may require surgery to correct anatomical abnormalities that are behind their snoring. 


If you have a case of primary snoring, which is mild snoring that doesn't cause significant health and social problems, then your treatment options can involve any of the following:


  • Decongestants if snoring is due to allergies or an infection
  • Using an air purifier or humidifier 
  • Switching to a side-sleeping position
  • Avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime
  • Weight loss and regular exercise
  • An oral appliance like the  Good Morning Snore Solution device

If your snoring doesn't improve with these self-help tips or is accompanied by daytime fatigue, trouble focusing, and high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor before your snoring causes further problems. 


References:

Shahveisi K, Jalali A, Moloudi MR, Moradi S, Maroufi A, Khazaie H. Sleep Architecture in Patients With Primary Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.Basic Clin Neurosci. 2018;9(2):147-156.doi:10.29252/NIRP.BCN.9.2.147


Koutsourelakis I, Perraki E, Zakynthinos G, Minaritzoglou A, Vagiakis E, Zakynthinos S. Clinical and polysomnographic determinants of snoring.J Sleep Res. 2012;21(6):693-699.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.01018.x


Dzieciolowska-Baran E, Gawlikowska-Sroka A, Czerwinski F. Snoring - the role of the laryngologist in diagnosing and treating its causes.Eur J Med Res. 2009;14 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):67-70.doi:10.1186/2047-783x-14-s4-67


The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Snoring. Patient Information. Accessed October 2022.https://www.stonybrookmedicine.edu/sites/default/files/snoring.pdf



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