Snoring is an old age problem that affects both men and women. It is characterized by a loud, unpleasant noise made when breathing during sleep. If you are a snorer, have you ever stopped to wonder why your own snoring has never awoken you? Or if your partner snores, have you ever wondered why their snoring never seems to bother them as it does you? In this post I will try to explain why snorers never wake at the sound of their own snoring.
So, why can’t you hear your own snoring?
According to Ronald Chervin, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Michigan Health System, it is still unclear why snorers seem to sleep unbothered by their own snoring. At the same time, their bed partners suffer throughout the night.
A plausible theory is that it probably relates to how the brain processes sensory information during sleep. It all leads to the thalamus, a part of the brain that filters out sensations and low-key sounds that we would typically be conscious of when awake. Some sounds are likely to stir us up more than others. E.g., hearing someone call out your name is more likely to awaken you from deep slumber than hearing a random word being mentioned.
Why is this? We can process sounds selectively while sleeping.
During sleep or rest, the brain monitors various signals to sustain life. Some of the most important functions the nervous system is responsible for include regulating breathing and heart rate.
The body repairs and rebuilds itself when you are resting. Certain areas of the brain are temporarily deactivated during the rebuilding and repairing process. One such function that is deactivated during sleep is our ability to hear sound.
The body is made so that it can distinguish between threatening and non-threatening sound and ignore the latter to get rest and repair itself. This capability ensures we get adequate rest when we sleep. Noise coming from our own bodies, as well as constant or repetitive noises such as the spinning of a fan or the tickling of a clock, are less likely to rouse us.
Even during sleep, the brain can identify unordinary sounds that may pose a threat and respond by waking up to evaluate them. Noises like a ringing alarm clock or a crying baby in the middle of the night or the noise of a burglar trying to break in all rouse us because they are all foreign.
Because I can’t hear my snoring, it’s not a problem, right?
Wrong! Just because you can’t hear your own snoring doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. It still is a problem, especially if it keeps your bed partner awake at night. Lack of quantity and quality sleep can cause irritability, diminished concentration, and daytime tiredness. Suffering these effects can leave your partner feeling resentment towards you. Your noisy snoring can also drive your partner out of your shared bedroom, putting a rift in your relationship.
If you suspect sleep apnea, speak with your doctor, who can further evaluate your health.
Even though you don’t hear your snoring, getting treatment for your snoring is essential not only for your overall health but also for the sake of giving your partner their peaceful nights back.
If your snoring does not indicate sleep apnea, there are some ways you can try reducing your snoring.
Top on the list is changing your sleep position. Try sleeping on your side instead of sleeping on your back. Many snorers suffer from positional snorers, meaning they only snore while sleeping on their back. Simply changing your sleep position might be the trick to reduce your snoring.
If you are obese, try shedding the excess weight to reduce the amount of fat accumulated in the neck area. Excess fat around the neck can put too much pressure on the airway, which can restrict breathing and cause snoring.
Another thing that may help is minimizing or doing away with alcohol intake before bed. Certain medicines contain the same sedative properties found in alcohol, which may cause the airway to relax too much, resulting in restricted breathing and subsequently snoring.
If the above tips do not help remedy your snoring, you should try other options such as anti snoring devices. They are affordable, readily available, and minimally invasive.
The sound of their own snoring never wakes up most snorers because the body is made to tune out low-priority sounds during sleep. It is, however, still important to find out the cause of your snoring and seek the proper treatment, not only for your partner’s sake but also for your overall health.