Why the Hell do we snore?
Before I get into this, I’ll be honest: I’ve invented a very cheap way of preventing snoring. But this is not just another typical on-line ad, disguised as an innocent blog. If you’re genuinely interested in what makes people snore and why we evolved to snore, then read on.
There are many ‘cures’ for snoring available but, from my experience, the only ones that really work, are really expensive. Mine works on the same principle as the expensive ones but costs a tiny fraction of the price because it’s home made. Interested? More later.
People joke about snoring but it’s no joke. Cartoons depict wives about to murder husbands and memes pop up regularly sarcastically poking fun at snorers but, guess what?
Well, nearly everybody. Statistics state that at least 50% of men and 24% of women will snore at some time during their life. But I think, to some degree, everyone snores. Just some louder than others. “What? Not me” you protest but remember: most people who snore, don’t know they do until they sleep with someone regularly. And it’s not just old men as many assume. Recently someone bought my ‘Snoring Solution’ for their four-year-old son who snored loudly.
My mother refused to believe she snored and got very angry when my Dad, sister and I all confirmed she did. It was the sixties, and I had just acquired my first new-fangled tape recorder. Oh, no, no, not cassette. Actual reel-to-reel tape recorder. State of the art, for twelve year old boys, it was. With glee, I set it up next to Mum, after she’d nodded off in her armchair, watching some lame sixties show on our old black and white TV.
It worked like a charm, recording her every snort, splutter and wheeze with accuracy. Even when she awoke, it recorded her muttering something about nodding off. However, as anyone who has heard themselves recorded for the first time knows, it doesn’t sound like you. She refused to believe what she was hearing was her own snoring and then her own voice. But, in her heart, I think she knew.
Not just human beings snore.
Most dogs do. I believe horses do, too. We even had a guinea pig who had the cutest little snore. So, it makes you wonder: Why did so many animals evolve so that they made loud noises when they slept? Well, I have a theory:
The majority of animals, especially smaller ones, have been, at some time during the Earth’s development, prey to other animals. Even some predators have been prey, themselves. In a natural, balanced ecosystem, predators are always a minority group and the vegetarian animals have been the majority. In fact, I believe the proportion has to be at least thirty prey animals to every one predator. This is for obvious reasons. If there are too many predators, both they and their prey would eventually die off.
This is why it’s absolutely insane that humanity has stubbornly continued to consume like predators. And in order to maintain our *acquired taste for flesh and blood we have to breed, graze or imprison and cruelly murder fifty billion land animals every year. *(“Acquired”, because our ancestors were vegetarian for a million years before climate change forced them to become scavengers, then hunters). The environmental impact of animal agriculture is quickly destroying our planet. We also rob the oceans of about fifty billion sea animals every year, completely upsetting the eco-balance in the sea. And all for food which is completely unnecessary and even detrimental to our health.
But that’s another story. (Read other philosophical and animal rights blog entries)
Snoring or Growling?
Because so many animals, including humans, were vulnerable, especially when asleep, I believe we evolved to snore so it would sound, to a predator, like a growl. It’s quite possible that if a night-hunting beastie came across a group of early humans, huddled asleep, together in a cave, it would think twice about trying to eat the ones that ‘growled’ at it. Of course, the chances are, the ‘wives’ would be sitting up, wide awake, unable to sleep because their hairy husbands were snoring so loudly. If they saw a sabre tooth tiger slinking into camp, they’d possibly grab the kids and hide and thus survive, leaving hubby to either snore away the beast or become its dinner.
For years I suffered from snoring. Well, to be quite honest I didn’t suffer much at all but my sleeping partners did. My only suffering was being woken regularly by an elbow in the ribs, or being banished to the couch. Then, of course, there was the parched mouth, sore throat and inflamed nasal passage. The scariest part was when breathing stopped. I’d wake up suddenly gasping for air because I had literally stopped breathing when my soft palate had blocked my nose, and my mouth was shut. Either that or it would force my mouth open on an exhale, and cause a God-awful flapping of the lips, like a horse.
So, what’s the physical reason why this happens?
I was desperate to understand. I’d read a whole lot of stuff about it but the thing I realised was that not all snoring is the same. It’s caused by different things. So, very few commercial ‘cures’ can fix every type of snoring. I experimented, carefully monitoring myself as I drifted off to sleep, trying to catch myself in the act of beginning to snore. Of course this was difficult because the mere fact that I was thinking about what was happening prevented my mind from relaxing into that silly slumber state where reality melts into nonsensical thought and eventual dreams. I’d lie awake for ‘hours’ it seemed until I gave in and, nek minut! I’d wake up from my own loud bugle call and realised I’d missed it again.
Eventually, it was apparent that the main cause of the problem was: at the instant you drift off to sleep, all your muscles, including those in the mouth and jaw, relax completely. During consciousness this never happens because we are constantly using these muscles, swallowing, adjusting tongue, licking teeth and lips, etc. As a result of this relaxation, the jaw drops a little, sometimes opening the mouth but even if doesn’t, the tongue relaxes and falls back against the roof of the mouth, pushing the soft palate up and constricting the nasal passage.
Dangerous Sleep Apnoea
It also sometimes blocks the throat so you can’t breath through your mouth, even with it open. This can actually be quite dangerous and in extreme cases, causing oxygen deprivation to the brain. This is called sleep apnoea. When air passes back and forth through the nose, it’s forced past the narrowed passage and causes the soft tissue to vibrate, much like a whoopie cushion or when you stretched out the neck of a balloon as the air was coming out, making that squealing sound – like we all did as kids. When your mouth is open it acts like a speaker box and makes the sound much louder.
Armed with this information, I devised several virtual cures which mainly focussed on holding the soft palate still, but this seemed impractical and it still didn’t stop the tongue from pushing up against the palate. I should mention at this point, that I had bought several different products which claimed to stop snoring: there were pills, sprays, strips of pepperminty gel which stuck to your palate. None of them worked at all, for me, that is. They may, of course work for other types of snoring.
There are also other devices like little hollow tubes you stick up your nose, or springy plastic things that stick to the outside of your nose holding the nostrils open more than normal. They only work if your snoring is caused by having a blocked nose; one of the less common causes, I’d say. Then there’s the ‘Strap’ based on the very old snoring cure of tying a scarf around your head and under your jaw to hold you mouth shut. This ‘Strap’ makes you look like you’re getting ready to don a space suit – very unattractive and would probably make your face hot. Again, it would only work for the less common type of snoring and if your nose became blocked you might have trouble breathing.
Then I found out about ‘The Tongue Sucker’. My local pharmacist showed me a device made of soft, flexible plastic which your tongue fits into, creating a vacuum seal. The front of it is held by the teeth. The idea being that it stops the tongue from dropping back. I was a little dubious, especially since it was about $200 and might not even work. Recently a friend told me he’d bought one and said it was very uncomfortable and didn’t work very well, anyway.
Well, I wasn’t very happy. My wife and I had become like flat mates rather than lovers, we’d slept in separate beds for so long. For too many nights I’d deprived her of sleep and she’d moved into the spare room and made it her own with pretty colours, decorations and girly things. Meanwhile our old room became my room which degenerated into a ‘bachelor’s pad’ with multiple layers of dirty and clean washing piled on the bed and the chest-of-drawers, and the floor with its weights – which I occasionally still train with – computer cables, phone charger, cardboard box full of odds and sods, etc, etc…. you get the picture. I’d forgotten what it was like to spoon or be spooned – well, except for George, the dog, who is deaf enough not to hear my snoring. I had to do something.
Reluctantly I went to my doctor, who I see maybe twice a year just to make sure this old vegan body hasn’t slipped into chaos with too many bourbons on the weekends, and asked her if there was anything she could suggest to improve my… our situation. She referred me to a specialist. But she didn’t warn me, did she?
Specialists are doctors who aren’t content with normal doctors’ salaries. They use their unique, specialised skills to put themselves in a situation where they can say “If I talk to you for a minute it will cost you $20. Five minutes – $100. Twenty minutes or more – $345. Oh, and by the way, the minimum consultation is twenty minutes” W.T.F. ?????
So, $345 later I looked back on everything this man had said to me. Trying to find value in every phrase, every syllable. And you know what. I did. Even though it would take me ten hours of work to redeem what I paid for his mere twenty minutes, I learnt something very valuable. Well, it will be valuable if a few more people buy my snoring solution. But, no, it was valuable to me and my wife, personally because I learnt what the most common cause of snoring was and how it could be fixed:
Option 1. A $10,000 operation which could quite possibly change the sound of my voice. Well, I’m no Elvis Presley but my voice is O.K. and what if the operation made me sound like Bart Simpson or worse… Crusty the Clown? AND, it might not even work. But what if it did make me sound like Elvis? Hmmm.
Option 2. A $2,000 made-to-measure mouthpiece which in 90% of cases stopped snoring by holding the jaw forward, thus preventing the tongue from pushing so hard on the soft palate. I seriously considered this option but was very wary of spending so much money.
Option 3. A $3 Do-It-Yourself, made-to-measure mouthpiece.
I had quizzed the specialist about the mouth piece’s design details and started thinking. And then I came up with a brainstorm. And I have my wife’s creativity to thank for it. She’s very talented at making miniature models of fruit and veggies, flowers and other food. She uses an amazing product to do it. I’ll say no more than that but, if you’re serious about curing a snoring problem for yourself or your beloved sleeping partner, then you owe it to yourself – and to me – to go to my webpage and learn how to fix your problem and I promise you, it won’t cost much at all. No tricks, no bullshit. I think I deserve a little compensation for my expenses and my experiments and for the sake of a few bucks, you deserve many nights of snore-free bliss. Here’s the link: Snore Solution – The Cheap D.I.Y. Cure
And while you’re on my website, have a good look around. There’s some good music, intriguing stories, super recipes and lots of other philosophical bullshit to enhance your life. I can guarantee you’ll leave my website a richer person than when you first clicked on it.
Sweet dreams are made of these.