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  • Snoring means that there is some sort of obstruction to your normal breathing that occurs when you sleep.
  • Dr Alison Bentley says many factors could lead to snoring, and one of them is age.
  • Other causes for snoring include a deviated septum, weight gain, and acid reflux.
  • Sometimes snoring is a sign of something more sinister, so it's important to consult your GP.

Is it normal to snore? Well, not really, according to Restonic sleep expert Dr Alison Bentley. "Snoring indicates that there is some obstruction to normal breathing that only occurs during sleep," she shares in a press statement.

"The obstruction causes turbulence in the airflow and vibration of the palate or the small tongue at the back of the mouth (the uvula). That vibration, plus a slightly open mouth, produces the noise we call snoring. The obstruction can be anywhere in the nose or throat area."

Dr Bentley says there are many factors that may be involved in snoring. Growing older, for example, increases the likelihood of snoring as the lining of the throat becomes 'floppier'.

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Here are 4 possible causes for your snoring:

1. Nose, palate, and throat issues

"Many people who snore have a problem with a blockage in their nose, which could be due to a deviated septum, a general irritation causing a swollen lining of the nose, polyps or enlarged adenoids," explains Dr Bentley. "Some of these conditions may need surgery, while others can be treated with appropriate nasal sprays, which may need to be used long-term."

Tonsils can also cause a throat obstruction, which could be another cause of snoring. "These are no longer routinely taken out in early childhood, so many more children grow up with their tonsils," says Dr Bentley. "If the tonsils become enlarged, they can swivel back during sleep to cause an obstruction. In children, snoring is never normal, and removal of the tonsils and adenoids resolves the snoring in 95% of children."

The end of the palate is the structure that generally produces the snoring noise, and because of this, some people feel the need to remove it. But Dr Bentley warns against this procedure.

"Although this can reduce the noise itself, the surgery needs to be undertaken with caution. The palate is responsible for some very important functions, such as closing off the back of the nose during swallowing and creating our unique speech. Surgery may interfere with these normal and useful functions."

2. The jaw and tongue

"The jaw and the tongue become important factors in snoring, especially when sufferers lie on their back," says Dr Bentley. "In that position, gravity moves the jaw back, narrowing the airway. This type of obstruction can be managed by preventing the sleeper from lying on their back (such as creating a pocket in the pyjama top/t-shirt between the shoulder blades and inserting a small ball in there) or using a mouthpiece to stabilise the jaw."

Dale Harley, executive: Restonic marketing, says if your bed or pillow is worn out, it could actually be making your snoring worse because they do not offer the correct spinal support, which affects the angle of your head, neck and airway during sleep.

"If your snoring is noticeably less severe when sleeping on a different bed or with a different pillow, it's worth investigating the option of a better bed to properly support your spine," he suggests.

3. Weight and snoring

"Weight gain is often a cause of snoring, especially in men, who are prone to putting on weight around the neck and chest area," says Dr Bentley. "Extra weight in these areas directly narrows the airway making it harder to breathe in. Losing even a few kilograms can help to reduce snoring."

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4. Acid reflux

Another cause of snoring, which is often ignored, is the reflux of stomach contents. "These make their way up into the back of the throat, causing swelling of the back of the tongue. During the day, gravity keeps the contents of the stomach in place, but lying down removes that force (particularly after a large meal close to bedtime or after eating spicy foods)."

Dr Bentley suggests moving evening meals to at least three hours before your bedtime and possibly taking a small dose of an antiacid before you sleep to reduce snoring caused by reflux.

When to be concerned

"In many cases snoring may be just noise pollution, but when discussing snoring, it is important to remember that it may be a sign of something more sinister, such as obstructive sleep apnoea," Dr Bentley warns.

Obstructive sleep apnoea causes your upper airway to collapse partially or completely, which affects your ability to breathe.

"If your snoring is associated with daytime tiredness, catches or pauses in the breathing at night or high blood pressure, you should speak to your doctor about possible apnoea. This is a serious medical disorder that can cause long-term medical problems and requires professional treatment."

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