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Snore-ology 101: Understanding the Types and Patterns of Snoring

By December 7, 2023December 20th, 2023Sleep Medicine
man snoring and woman plugging her ears in bed

Sleep is an essential part of our well-being. However, millions of people around the globe experience disrupted sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness, brain fog, and even depression. One of the most common disruptions people experience while sleeping is snoring. Luckily, sleep medicine helps to get a more restful night’s sleep. 

Do you often feel groggy upon waking? Do you struggle to get through the day without caffeine and naps? If so, then you might be dealing with a sleep disorder, like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Leaving sleep conditions untreated can lead to disastrous effects. So, explore sleep medicine with Timothy E. Mickiewicz, D.D.S., today. Contact our team in Sacramento, CA, at (916) 469-9178 for scheduling and information. 

While it’s easy to dismiss snoring as a mere annoyance, delving into the world of “Snore-ology” reveals a complex tapestry of different types and patterns of breathing-related sleep disorders. Indeed, each type of snore comes with its unique set of causes. Understanding these variations can be the key to unlocking targeted solutions for a quieter and more restful night’s sleep.

The Basics of Snoring

Before we embark on our journey into Snore-ology, let’s first understand what snoring is. Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose becomes partially or totally blocked during sleep, leading to the vibration of the surrounding tissues. 

This vibration produces the characteristic sound we all know so well. Occasional snoring is extremely common, as experts estimate that roughly 45% of all adults snore. While these vibrations may be harmless for most people, chronic snoring can indicate underlying issues that warrant attention, like sleep apnea.

Knowing which type of snore you exhibit is key to getting proper treatment. Let’s explore different types of snores now.

Types of Snoring

While there are many different kinds of snores, there are five common types that most people experience. Recognizing the type of snoring someone experiences is integral to understanding what causes it, which helps sleep doctors provide appropriate and effective care. 

1. Nasal Snoring

We often associate nasal snoring with congestion or blockage in the nasal passages. Many factors can cause nasal snoring, such as:

  • Allergies
  • Sinusitis due to infections
  • A deviated septum

When the nasal passages are obstructed, the air flowing out of them becomes turbulent. The result is that telltale snoring sound, which can lead to restless nights for both the snorer and their companions.

2. Mouth Breathers

Some individuals naturally breathe through their mouths while sleeping, leading to snoring. This can be due to factors like:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Jaw structure
  • Habits developed over time

Mouth breathing increases the likelihood of the soft palate (the posterior portion of the roof of the mouth) and the uvula (the dangly thing at the back of the mouth) vibrating, which causes that distinct snoring sound.

3. Tongue-Based Snoring

The position of the tongue plays a crucial role in snoring. If the tongue falls backward and partially blocks the airway during sleep, it can lead to snoring. Lying on one’s back can worsen tongue-based snoring, as it encourages the tongue to slide toward the throat rather than lying flat.

4. Palatal Flutter

A Palatal flutter refers to the rapid movement of the soft palate and uvula. This can occur when the muscles in the throat are excessively relaxed, causing them to flutter with each breath. Palatal flutter often results in a rhythmic and fluttering snoring pattern.

5. Positional Snoring

Snoring intensity can vary based on sleep position. For some individuals, snoring is more prominent when sleeping on their backs. This is attributed to the way gravity influences the tongue and soft palate, causing them to collapse backward and obstruct the airway.

Identifying Patterns and Causes

Understanding the different types of snoring is just the first step in addressing the issue. To find effective solutions, it’s crucial to identify the specific patterns and causes associated. Here are some common factors that contribute to snoring:

1. Obesity

Extra weight (particularly around the face, neck, and chest) can contribute to snoring. Fat deposits in the throat area can constrict air passages, increasing the likelihood.

2. Age

As we age, the muscles in our throat and tongue naturally weaken. This can lead to increased susceptibility to snoring, especially if other contributing factors are present.

3. Sedatives and alcohol

Consuming alcohol or certain tranquilizing sedatives can slacken the muscles in the throat, making snoring more probable. Avoiding these substances (especially close to bedtime) can help reduce snoring.

4. Sleep Position

Lying in a supine position (i.e. on one’s back) often exacerbates snoring. Encouraging side-sleeping can sometimes alleviate or reduce snoring intensity.

5. Nasal Congestion

Many things can cause nasal congestion, including allergies, sinus infections, or other conditions. Addressing these issues may help reduce nasal snoring.

Targeted Solutions for a Quieter Night

Now that we’ve identified different types of snoring and their potential causes, let’s explore targeted solutions tailored to each scenario:

1. Nasal Strips and Decongestants

For nasal snoring, using nasal strips or decongestants can help open up the nasal passages, reducing the likelihood of obstruction.

2. Chin Straps

Individuals can address mouth breathing by using specialized straps that encourage breathing through the nose. These devices keep the jaw closed, regardless of sleeping position. As a result, chin straps help prevent the soft palate and uvula from vibrating.

3. Tongue Retaining Devices

People can mitigate tongue-based snoring by using devices designed to keep the tongue in a forward position during sleep. These devices prevent the tongue from falling backward and obstructing the airway.

4. Positional Therapy

Individuals who snore more when sleeping on their backs may benefit from positional therapy. This involves using pillows or devices that discourage back-sleeping.

5. Weight Management

For snorers with obesity as a contributing factor, gradual weight loss through a combination of diet and exercise may help reduce snoring.

6. Throat Exercises

Strengthening the muscles in the throat through specific exercises can be beneficial, especially for age-related snoring.

7. Avoiding Triggers

Cutting back on alcohol and sedatives (especially in the hours leading up to bedtime) can significantly reduce the likelihood of snoring.

Snoring Treatment in Sacramento, CA

While often dismissed as a common annoyance, snoring is a multifaceted issue with various types and patterns. By understanding the nuances of snore-ology, individuals can take a targeted approach to address their specific snoring challenges. If you or a loved one is suffering from nightly snoring, contact Timothy E. Mickiewicz, D.D.S., today.

Request an appointment here or call our friendly team at (916) 469-9178 for information and scheduling.