The National Sleep Foundation’s recent research estimates that more than 37 million adult Americans snore. This is a depressing statistic considering that you can eliminate or at least reduce snoring significantly with the treatments we have today. In this article we examine how your tongue may be getting in the way of your good night’s sleep.
It is possible that once you learn about your tongue and snoring, you will change your view about this sleeping robbing condition. You may have heard interesting tales regarding the causes of snoring, some border on outright ignorant while others are hilarious.
The reality is that most people do not understand the true causes of snoring, and therefore how to treat it properly. The truth is that snoring can be caused by many different things, including your own tongue. Learn how your tongue could be getting in the way of a good night’s sleep here.
But What Exactly is Snoring?
You probably have heard someone snoring at some point in your life. Unfortunately, just like bad breath, you may not figure out that you are a snorer until someone tells you. But, a big majority of Americans do struggle with this sleep-related condition.
Snoring occurs when your airway becomes obstructed while sleeping. The resulting wheezing or harsh sound is what is referred to as snoring.
You may have had your own theories about what causes snoring. But most people never even consider that their tongue could be among these assumed causes. Well, buckle up because there are important facts that may blow your mind.
Relationship Between the Tongue and Snoring
The underlying causes of snoring vary depending on individual circumstances. However, the tongue contributes to a sizable number of snoring-related concerns. There’s a wide range of reasons why the tongue may cause snoring, mostly depending on its size and positioning.
It is important to address the possible reasons why the tongue causes snoring. This will give you a better understanding of snoring and what you can do about it. Perhaps it may even change your view about people who snore.
Snoring is a result of the recurrent blockage of the airway while sleeping. The tongue is a major cause of this blockage. During sleep time, your tongue may slip back into your throat. This normally happens due to your sleeping position, the size of your tongue or the space adjacent to your airway.
When the tongue collapses back into the airway, it results in a struggle to breathe which is what leads to that wheezing sound. The air must pass through the relaxed tongue tissues resting at the back of the throat blocking the airway making you struggle to sustain normal breathing. It is this blockage of the airway that causes the noise we associate with snoring.
Read on to understand the different factors that contribute to snoring.
Sleeping on Your Back
If you are diligent about observing your sleep patterns, you will notice a telling trend about your snoring. You are much more likely to snore if you are sleeping on your back.
The tongue is at the center of this fact. The reason for this is that when you sleep on your back and as your muscles relax, your tongue gradually slips to the back of your throat. Once this happens, the tongue is blocking the airway causing you to struggle to breathe. This not only causes snoring but can also cause obstructive sleep apnea. A very serious disorder that needs immediate medical intervention.
If you or your partner notice a slow down in breathing followed by snoring or wheezing, there is a very good chance that your tongue is the culprit.
If you suspect that this is an issue for you, there is an easy way to check. Try sleeping on your side instead of your back. This lessens the chance of the tongue collapsing in the back of the throat and obstructing the airway. If you or your partner notice a reduction or even cessation of snoring, it’s a good bet that your tongue is the issue.
The Size of Your Tongue
Perhaps you may not know this but as your weight increases so does the fat in your tongue. This explains why obese people have a greater likelihood of snoring at night. The reality is that as your body increases in size, so does your tongue.
The consequence of this increased tongue size is a greater likelihood that it will obstruct your airway. A bigger tongue can therefore lead to both snoring and sleep apnea.
The anatomy of your mouth, such as the structure of the jaw, size of your throat and how wide or narrow the air passages are can all be factors that contribute to your tongue blocking the airway when sleeping.
Most “civilians” can’t evaluate these mouth and throat structures, so it’s important that you seek out expert help if your snoring persists.
Your Tongue Might Have Been the Problem All Along
The level of misinformation associated with snoring is appalling. Without proper diagnosis, the likelihood of blaming your snoring on irreverent factors is high. And being that the tongue’s position and size as well as your mouth’s make up aren’t well understood by the general population. You can spend a lot of time and money on “cures” that won’t solve the problem.
So knowing the cause of your snoring will have a direct affect on what solution will be effective to relieve the problem.
Now that you know that your tongue may be a major impediment to a good night’s sleep. Let’s address the possible options on how to treat and manage your snoring or sleep apnea issues.
Managing Your Snoring
As we have implied, there are many different causes of snoring, and each cause has its own treatment options. Additionally, snoring is often caused by more than just one factor, so using a combination treatments and/or anti snoring devices may offer the best solution. That being said, there are a number of ways to treat tongue snoring, both through lifestyle changes and with anti snoring devices.
Changing your sleep position is one of the simplest ways you can reduce or eliminate snoring. As we stated earlier, sleeping on your back encourages the tongue to collapse into the throat blocking the airway. By sleeping on your side, this is much less likely to happen. For some, changing their sleep position from back to side is all that needs to be done to solve a snoring problem.
While sleeping on your side can be a great way to begin the process of dealing with airway blockage and snoring. Not everyone can do it. After all, if you’ve spent a lifetime sleeping on your back, suddenly trying to sleep on your side may interrupt your sleep more than the snoring did. Fortunately there are other options to change your sleeping position.
One of the most practical is to elevate the head using a wedge pillow This allows you to continue to sleep on your back while keeping your tongue from falling back and blocking the airway.
Another option is using an adjustable bed, just like with the wedge pillow, an adjustable bed allows you to elevate your head preventing the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway. While this is a more expensive option, there are a multitude of other health benefits you’ll see from using an adjustable bed.
As we talked about earlier, the size of your tongue is proportionate to your body size. This means that if you are within your average BMI, your tongue should be proportional to your mouth. On the other hand, if your BMI is too high, your tongue can enlarge and block the airway causing both snoring and sleep apnea. It is therefore important to keep your weight in check. As a side note, there is more and more evidence that snoring causes weight gain instead of the other way around.
But no matter what the cause is, keeping fit is important as it will ensure that your weight is within the normal BMI. Exercising is an excellent way to reduce the level of tongue-related snoring, as it both lowers BMI and improves muscle tone, helping to keep the tongue from falling into the back of the throat.
Eating healthy foods may also be another option. In addition to managing your weight, many people are surprised to learn that your diet can greatly affect snoring. Focus on adopting a healthy and balanced dietary approach if you want to address your snoring concern.
Your sleeping position, commitment to exercise and better dietary approaches may be all you need. However, if they do not work, you may need to seek professional interventions.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Therapy
Seeking medical interventions may be useful. CPAP therapy is one such option. When dealing with obstructive sleep apnea or tongue-related snoring CPAP may offer the medical relief you may need.
The CPAP machine will become your sleeping aid for a period of time, or for the rest of your life. The machine has a hose and mask that is affixed to your nose and mouth. The machine pumps a continuous flow of air into your system ensuring that the tongue does not block the airway.
Another option is to use an oral appliance to reduce the extent of blockage caused by the tongue. There are a couple of oral appliance options. Some reposition the lower jaw to keep the airway open, others physically hold the tongue forward keeping it from collapsing and blocking the airway.
If you are a tongue base snorer, you may also consider the option of gum shield. There are many such options in the market depending on the size of the tongue. The device assists in reducing the obstruction and can keep your tongue in position all through the night.
Now That You Understand the Relationship Between Your Tongue and Snoring, There Is Hope
It is possible to find solutions to your snoring predicament. It’s important to realize that you are not alone and that this is a common concern. There are a lot of treatments out there, and while we always recommend trying the least invasive options first. It’s always a good idea to consult with a professional to get their opinion before you purchase anything too expensive.
If you are struggling with snoring concerns and require urgent interventions and relief please contact us.
As always, we hope you found this article, “Your Tongue and Snoring: Is It In The Way Of a Good Night’s Sleep?” both informative and entertaining. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your friends and family through social media. It really helps us a lot and is greatly appreciated!