What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is a form of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). As the name suggests, SDB is a range of conditions that adversely impact a person's ability to breathe normally while asleep.

A staggering 1 in 3 Australian adults suffers from some form of SDB. Even mild SDB cases, such as snoring, are loud, clear signals the airflow of a sufferer is impaired. Any degree of impairment is unhealthy.

SDB is commonly caused by the soft tissue of the upper airway losing tension over time (or bulking up with fatty deposits), consequently intruding into the airway. This condition typically happens when the person is asleep or deeply relaxed when there is little or no conscious control of the tissues.

In more severe SDB cases, such as obstructive sleep apnea, the sufferer stops breathing while they sleep – often hundreds of times each night. As you'd expect, the person's sleep quality is compromised, blood oxygen levels fall, and the heart works harder to compensate.

Sleep apnea can be mild with typically 5 to 15 breathing stoppages per hour, moderate with 15 to 30 breathing stoppages per hour, or severe with over 30 stoppages per hour. Each breathing stoppage lasts for at least 10 seconds, with many lasting much longer.

As blood oxygen levels fall, the body's sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight reflex) will ultimately trigger an alert and wake the patient to get them breathing again. Unfortunately, this arousal is so brief the sufferer usually has no recollection of having woken. They gasp awake, take a breath and fall back to sleep immediately.

As a result, many SDB sufferers wake to feel tired each morning – when, in reality, they should be feeling most refreshed significantly because the sufferer does not recall the many 'micro arousals' which occurred after each apnoeic event. They wake up thinking, "I have just had a full night's sleep. Why am I still feeling so tired?"

The answer, of course, is they did not have a full period of deep, restorative sleep. Instead, the sufferer effectively had hundreds of short naps throughout the night, never reaching the necessary deeper levels of sleep.

Treating SDB ensures the patient's upper airway remains clear and open, allowing the person to breathe normally and healthily throughout the night.

How to Stop Snoring

Professional treatment of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) begins with simple screening for those experiencing mild symptoms to a full professional diagnostic sleep study (polysomnogram) for more severe cases.

Simple screening involves completing our five-minute scientifically validated online questionnaire that will accurately assess your personal Sleep Apnea Risk Profile, then provide next-step recommendations, cost and obligation-free.

For more severe cases, a full sleep study (polysomnogram) requires a diagnostic recorder be worn overnight while you sleep.  It records:

  • brain activity (including levels of sleep/consciousness)
  • cardiac activity
  • breathing patterns and stoppages
  • blood oxygen levels
  • the number and duration of each apneic event
  • the number of 'arousals'
  • limb movements
  • sleeping position and other key factors

The recorded sleep data is reviewed by a qualified sleep scientist and specialist sleep physician. The physician diagnoses the nature and severity of your SDB condition and prescribes the appropriate form of treatment for you.

At Sleep Clinic Services, we make the sleep study process much easier for you. Instead of travelling to a hospital or sleep lab, we deliver a diagnostic recorder to your home address, then talk you through the set-up process before bed.

Apart from the privacy, convenience and comfort which a home-based sleep study offers, your typical sleep environment (in your own bed, with your own pillow and linen) generally produces a recording that is much more reflective of your typical nights' sleep.

Patients who undergo hospital or lab-based studies often complain they did not experience anything like a typical night's sleep, which reduces the reliability of the recorded data, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations.

If you are unsure what to do next, click the CALL NOW button below to chat one-on-one with a friendly Care Coordinator, or schedule a call at your convenience.

As always, contact your local general practitioner (GP) if you have any serious health concerns.

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As Australia's leading provider of telehealth screening, diagnosis and solutions for 'sleep disordered breathing' sufferers, we care for people all around Australia.


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