It is commonly known that men usually snore more than women. According to statistics, more than a third of men and almost one-fifth of women snore after thirty years old, and this increases with age. After the age of 60, 60% of men and more than 30% of women snore. To understanding why men snore more than women, we need to understand the physiology of snoring.
What Causes Snoring?
When a person breathes, the air moves through the mouth or nose to the pharynx (part of the throat that sits behind the mouth and nasal cavity) and larynx (part of the throat that stops food and drink from blocking the airway). The air then moves to the trachea (windpipe), through to the bronchi (air passageway to the lungs) and then finally enters the lungs.
When a person is awake, their pharynx and larynx muscles are always engaged. However, during sleep these muscles relax, which causes the airways to be partially blocked by the over relaxed muscle tissue. With the air not completely getting through to the lungs, the pressure in the airways increases and causes a vibration in the soft issues of the respiratory tract. The sound this vibration makes is snoring. The degree of air obstructed determines the severity of the snoring. In most cases, the narrower the airways, the louder the snoring.
What Causes Snoring in Males?
The main reasons why men snore are:
- The accumulated fat in the neck region squeezes the walls of the larynx, narrowing the airway passage. A 20% increase in the ideal weight of a male could lead to snoring, however for women, a 30-40% increase in ideal weight is usually needed to cause snoring.
- Use of sleeping pills, alcohol, or smoking lead to the relaxation of the pharynx and larynx muscles, which could cause periodic or continuous snoring. In general, men tend to consume more alcohol and smoke more than women.
- Nasal septum deviation occurs when there is an over growth of bone and cartilage tissues inside the nasal cavity. Nasal injuries could also cause a deviated nasal septum. It is common for males to get more nasal injuries than women due to rough contact sport or other activities.
- Polyps in the nose cause snoring, which occur more often in men than in women.
Is Snoring Dangerous?
If the walls of the throat are narrowed or completely closed, the air struggles to reach the lungs, which causes episodes of apnea (the lack of breathing during a period of sleep). If breathing stops for more than 10 seconds, it is diagnosed as Complicated Snoring. In severe cases, the period of apnea can last up to 3 minutes!
With prolonged and regular stops of breath during the night, the organs start to suffer from oxygen deprivation known as Hypoxia. In men, this disorder greatly increases arterial pressure during sleep and immediately after waking. The Hypoxia wakes the brain to command the body to breathe, which interrupts normal sleep. As a result, during the day, a person feels tired, has a reduced intellectual capacity and deterioration of attention and memory. Snoring can also cause erectile dysfunction in men.
Treatment for Snoring
We now know the reasons for male snoring and possible health risks, however how do you curb this disorder? Below are some general recommendations that could help reduce snoring.
1) Stop or reduce the use of sedatives and sleeping pills;
2) Stop or reduce smoking and drinking alcohol;
3) Reduce excess weight, which can also improve muscle tone
Anti Snoring Exercises:
These exercises increase the tone of the muscles of the soft palate, larynx and the tongue. The results aren’t instant, but you should be able to notice an improvement in 2-3 weeks. What’s great about this treatment is that there are no side effects!
Here are some exercises that will help decrease snoring:
- Strain the palatine muscles to their maximum by pronouncing the sounds of “o” and “a”.
- Put a pencil in your lips, tightly close the lips and hold the pencil for 5 minutes.
- Try to touch your chin with your tongue twice a day for 30 mins. You should feel tension at the base of the tongue.
- Simulate biting an apple- repeat this 10 times.
- Close and open the mouth while creating resistance with your hand. Perform this exercise morning and night 30 times.
- Before bedtime, clamp a plastic or wooden stick between your teeth for 3 mins.
Repeat these exercises from time to time to maintain the tone of the muscles in the throat.
External Anti Snoring Aids:
1) Anti snoring pillows provide an anatomical position for the neck, which helps to align the airways and allow for smooth breathing. There are many different types of these pillows available on the market.
2) Mouth devices to stop snoring hold the jaw, tongue and soft tissue palate in place to allow for smooth, uninterrupted breathing.
3) Medication. There are a number of medications that can help decrease snoring, available in the form of drops, sprays, and aerosols. They work by irritating the mucous membrane, which increase muscle tone. It is best to consult a doctor before using these medications to ensure the treatment is appropriate for your specific condition.
4) CPAP Therapy is a mask device that provides positive air pressure in the airways during sleep, preventing muscle relaxation.
5) Use of laser and cryotherapy to correct the soft palate issue, tongue or back wall of the larynx. This method is not the cheapest but tends to be effective. Such treatment is used for polyps of the respiratory tract, outgrowths of the mucous membrane, and adenoidal growth.
Whether you are a male snorer or the partner, family or friend of a male snorer (or female snorer), I hope this article has given you a better understanding of snoring and the large scope of treatments available to help you get a peaceful nights sleep.