Mouth breathing is one of the most common causes of snoring. Find out why sleeping with an open will make a snorers conditions worse and what be dome to remedy the situation.
What Will I Learn?
Snoring and Mouth Breathing
As you are probably aware, there is a strong connection between snoring and breathing. You may also be aware breathing through the mouth instead of the nose is likely to make the situation worse.
Snoring is an audible reaction that happens in response to vibrating flesh. In the case of people who snore through the mouth, the flesh is vibrating at the back of their throats. With nose snorers, a similar thing is happening at the back of the cavity behind the nose.
The area that emits the noise may be located in a different place, but both types of snoring occur when the affected individual breathes in.
Around 50 percent of people snore at some point during their lives and the problem is more common in men than it is in women.
Statistics suggests around 40 percent of adult men are habitual snorers. Around 24 percent of adult women snore regularly too and certain factors, such as sleeping position have the potential to make snoring worse.
Some people are light snorers, others sound like a JCB. When snoring becomes as loud as that, we may wake ourselves up and will almost certainly disrupt the sleep of our partners or anyone sleeping nearby.
Snoring With an Open Mouth
Mouth snoring is the most common type of snoring so let’s take a look at that first. If you are a mouth snorer, you may wake up and notice your throat is sore.
Waking up and finding your mouth and/or throat is dry is another sign of mouth snoring. However, often there are no indications at all.
During sleep, the muscles relax, including the ones at the back of the throat. The muscles in the throat are no different from the muscles located anywhere else in the body. When they relax they soften and are more easily moved.
The tongue is a muscle too. When you sleep with your mouth open, it tends to drop towards the back of the throat. This is a scenario that’s more likely to happen if you sleep on your back but it can happen in other positions too.
When the muscles in the throat relax they become so pliable they can vibrate and produce noise. The snoring noise the flesh produces happens when our breathing causes air turbulence at the back of the throat.
Needless to say, when the tongue drops back and restricts normal airflow during inhalation, it’s only going to make the situation worse.
Mouth breathing during sleep also presents additional problems that may make snoring worse.
When you are breathing via your mouth instead of your nose, it causes the airway at the back of the throat to become drier. This can make your snoring even louder.
When you breathe through your nose, this is less of a problem because nasal breathing helps humidify the incoming air.
Breathing via the mouth also makes you more susceptible to airborne allergens and germs that may have the potential to increase snoring.
Nose snoring is often the result of nasal stuffiness. It may also be due to small nostril size or, in the case of larger nostrils, due to the nostrils collapsing.
Any of these problems can force you to switch from nose breathing and open your mouth, causing you to snore.
Nasal stuffiness can be the result of an infection, such as a cold or flu. It can also be due to an allergic reaction.
When you find a successful treatment or the problem subsides naturally, normal nose breathing will be restored and the problem with snoring should go away.
If your nostrils are quite small, there is not much you can do. It’s a gift of nature. However, if you place nasal dilators in your nostrils before going to sleep, it may open them up sufficiently to allow you to sleep with your mouth closed.
Physical problems such as a bent septum or nasal polyps may also interfere with normal nose breathing, causing you to snore.
Nasal dilators may be able to help improve airflow through the nose but conditions like these probably require a medical examination and, possibly, surgery.
Other Factors That May Contribute to Mouth Snoring
Many factors can influence snoring and may make it worse.
Some of the most common ones include:
When you are overweight or obese, the fat that forms around the throat can apply pressure to your airways and make you more likely to snore.
This is particularly so for men because they are more likely to put on weight around the neck and waist. With women, there is a greater tendency to store fat around the thighs.
Tobacco smoke irritates the flesh that lines the nasal cavity, leading to inflammation and catarrh. Either one of these can interfere with nasal airflow and cause you to breathe through the nose.
There is little doubt that smoking can make snoring worse.
The position you sleep in can also increase snoring. Sleeping on your back is the worst position of all because it encourages the tongue to drop towards the back of the throat.
Side sleepers, on the other hand, are less likely to snore. Though, of course, other contributing factors may mean switching to a side sleeping position may not be enough to cure snoring.
Alcohol and Medications
Alcohol can cause or increase snoring because it encourages the muscles to relax. Sedatives and certain other medications can do the same thing.
Alcoholic beverages also have the potential to irritate the nasal airways so it’s best to limit the amount of alcohol you drink, especially before going to bed. Forget the idea of a nightcap and try to leave a gap of at least four hours before your last alcoholic drink and going to sleep.
If you normally use sleeping pills or take other medicines that have a sedating effect, things can be trickier. However, your doctor may be able to provide alternative treatments that are less likely to make you snore.
Pregnancy and snoring are linked. Being pregnant causes many changes in a woman’s body. One of the things it can do is make women more likely to snore. This can be due to hormonal changes but there may be other contributing factors as well.
Among other things, pregnancy can bring about changes in the metabolic rate and ventilatory drive. Either one may influence snoring.
Additionally, the increase in circulating blood volume might trigger rhinitis and nasal congestion that may cause snoring by interfering with normal nose breathing.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous medical condition that causes snoring.
Apart from causing snoring, sleep apnea also interferes with breathing. An “apnea” is a period where respiration stops for 10 seconds or longer. Sleep apnea episodes may occur up to 100 times an hour.
If you suspect the sleep apnea may be the reason you are snoring, you will need to seek medical assistance at once.
Things That May Restore Normal Breathing and Control Snoring
There are many things you can do to try and control your snoring.
For instance, sleeping with a humidifier in the bedroom may make it easier to breathe through your nose. Especially if you add a suitable essential oil, such as eucalyptus, to the water.
A netti pot is another option some people find works well. It’s a special bottle that allows you to clear the nasal passages by forcing a warm stream of water through the nose.
Losing weight, stopping smoking, and making other healthy lifestyle changes may also make you less likely to snore.
There are also a number of types of anti-snoring device that be very good for getting the problem under control.
Nasal strips and internal dilators can be a good option if you are snoring due to problems that prevent nose breathing.
Although they won’t be much help to anyone who is snoring because nose breathing is not possible, chin straps are another option that encourages you to sleep with your mouth closed.
Snoring and Mouth Breathing – The Bottom Line
Snoring is a problem that occurs when the flesh in the throat or back of the nose vibrates due to air turbulence that occurs while breathing. Many things can contribute to this and make it worse.
Although some people snore with their mouth shut, open-mouth snoring is far more common. Nasal congestion and similar problems often contribute to snoring by making it difficult to breathe through the nose.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to reduce snoring. If you are lucky, a few simple lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or stopping smoking may be enough.
However, it may be necessary to use an anti-snoring device that improves airflow and prevents the turbulence that causes snoring.
If sleep apnea is suspected, a medical examination will be necessary but, regardless of the various issues and factors that contribute to the problem, there are plenty of things you can do.