Snoring, Sleep and airways – what is going on?
This video addresses the scientific nature of the process of sleep and what happens when your airways are blocked. Snoring is an effect of the soft palette vibrating during sleep, and in some instances the soft palate may engulf the airway causing a complete block in the airway and a sudden jerk back to consciousness from sleep.
When you breathe air travels through you nose down the throat, through the windpipe and into your lungs. The narrowest path into that pathway is into the back of your throat, when you are awake muscles keep that path way relatively wide open, but when you sleep those muscles relax allow the opening to narrow. The air passing through this narrow opening may cause the of the pallet to vibrate – this causes snoring.
In some people the throat closes so much that enough air cannot get through to the lungs. When this happens the brain sends an alarm to open the air way. Most often this is associated with a brief arousal from sleep. The brain quickly reactivates the muscles that holds the throat open that allows the air to pass through again and the brain goes back to sleep. This order is called obstructive sleep apnea. Procedures to stiffen or to shorten the soft palette can improve snoring. Procedures that open the airway at the back of the throat can improve sleep apnea.