Snoring is caused by turbulence inside the airway during inspiration. This turbulence happens as a result of partial blockage of the throat area either at the tip of the nasal cavity or the vocal chords. In most cases, restriction occurs during sleep because our muscles tend to relax when we doze off.
Most snoring problems originate from the base of the soft palate but in recent years scientists have found out that the tongue plays a far more important role in the incidence of snoring than was previously thought.
The problem however, is that snoring is not something that can be stopped at will. It is a physical abnormality like any other and sometimes it is important to seek proper medication attention for it.
One self-help remedy that is often recommended is side sleeping. Some argue that if you sleep on your back you are more likely to snore than if you sleep on your side or stomach. So do these claims have any medical backing or are they just myths?
There are three common sleeping patterns namely: back sleeping, side sleeping and stomach sleeping. Let us see how each one of them affects your snoring patterns.
Stomach sleeping provides more body warmth particularly because you get to inhale warm air from the pillow. In addition, it eases pressure on your ribs and spine, which can result in better relaxation. When it comes to snoring, stomach sleepers have a slight advantage over those who sleep in different positions because the throat tends to open wider leaving just enough space for airflow.
But there are several health disadvantages that come with tummy sleeping. First, it flattens the natural curve of your spine and this can indirectly contribute to lower back pain. This may also create strain on the neck and reduce blood supply to key organs.
Whether you sleeping in a curled up fetal position or lying straight, side sleeping is a winner in improving blood circulation to the heart. It also reduces pressure on your spine thus reducing your risk of lower back pain. Another added advantage is that this position tends to ease acid reflux and heartburn thereby promoting healthier sleeping patterns.
What about snoring?
Well, side sleeping can help tame up to 54% of snoring problems. That is to say, changing sleeping positions alone may not entirely help end the problem and sometimes a more advanced solution may have to be sought.
On the flipside, though, if you sleep on your side you are likely to subject your lungs and stomach to pressure. You are also more likely to wake up with squished-arm-numbness.
Sleeping in this position is a boon for your neck and spine health, because your back is not forced into any contortions. In addition, back sleeping protects your face from wrinkles (a win for the cosmetically inclined) and allows the mattress to do its job of supporting the spine.
Snoring occurs when your muscles relax and your tongue falls backward toward the throat. It is possible that back sleepers are likelier to snore than non-back sleepers.
According to a study published in the New York Times, majority of people who snore are positional snorers. That means they only need to change their sleeping positions to control the problem. However, this trick does not always work for everybody.
The reason is simple; there are many other causes of snoring apart from the partial blockage that occurs when you sleep on your back. For instance, as you age, your throat muscles tend to relax and that may aggravate the snoring. Likewise, if you are obese (and have a lot of fatty tissue around the neck) or if you drink alcohol before going to bed then back sleeping may not be to blame for your snoring woes.
Yes, sleeping on your back may increase your chances of snoring. However, sometimes the culprit behind the rumbling sound may not be your sleeping position. You can snore even if you are a side sleeper or a stomach sleeper. The key is to find a remedy that works and provides you with a long-term solution to your problem.
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