It is estimated that around 40 percent of adults in the United States snore; and it appears to affect men more often than women. While its proliferation within the population might imply that it is normal—and despite the myth that it is a sign of very deep sleep—the fact of the matter is that snoring is actually not very good at all.
According to New York University Langone Health Center ear, nose, and throat doctor, Erich Voigt, “Snoring really does not demonstrate anything good. You can have a beautifully deep sleep in a silent sleep.”
Now, that said, snoring is often harmless, but it could be a symptom of another problem. For example, snoring typically means there is an obstruction in the airway.
Also a sleep specialist, Voigt goes on to explain, “Snoring is basically vibration of the tissues inside of the airway,” specifically the roof of the mouth as well as the vertical folds of tissue surrounding the tonsils.
Voigt continues by describing that many factors can contribute to snoring. Many of these triggers, fortunately, we can control. Drinking alcohol, for one, is commonly linked to snoring: it has a tendency to make the tissues in and of the mouth swell; and alcohol can reduce sleep quality overall. Voigt even explains “Your brain is sedated from alcohol, so the combination can make you snore worse.”
As such, we can simply choose to drink less of it.
Other controllable factors can also contribute to snoring. Being overweight, for example, is also commonly linked with snoring. Thus, losing weight is a way to control snoring.
Unfortunately, not all factors that contribute to snoring are controllable. Physical obstructions like a larger uvula or a deviated septum are genetic/biological causes. People who suffer allergies or upper respiratory infections can also cause tissues in the roof of the mouth to swell or stretch or even to loosen. This can cause snoring, too.
At the end of the day Voigt comments that light, rhythmic snoring is typically not something to worry about. However, loud and erratic snoring—particularly when it crescendos to get louder and louder—concluding with gasps and snorts can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. This can be a very serious condition that increases risk for heart disease.