Introduction: What Is Snoring?
Snoring is the loud or harsh sound from the nose or mouth that occurs when breathing is partially obstructed. The sound is produced when the soft palate and other soft tissues (such as uvula, tonsils, nasal turbinates, and others) in the upper airway vibrate.
Affecting nearly 90 million Americans, it can lead to disturbed, unrefreshing sleep, ultimately resulting in poor daytime function. Snoring is caused due to obstruction of air passage, resulting in the vibration of respiratory structures and the production of sound during breathing while asleep.
Snoring is more prevalent in males than in females. Certain risk factors such as genetic predisposition, throat weakness, obesity, mispositioned jaw, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption, and mouth breathing are associated with snoring.
How Does Genetics Influence Snoring Risk?
Twin and family studies have identified the association between genetic factors and snoring risk, with heritability ranging between 18 to 28%.
A recent study published in 2019 leveraged data from a large U.K. Biobank study consisting of the Australian adult population to identify the molecular mechanisms associated with snoring.
MSRB3 Gene and Snoring
MSRB3 is associated with protein and lipid metabolism pathways, which are related to hippocampal volume (a region in the brain) and lung function. Such genetic associations are consistent with the findings that severe bouts of snoring may be due to:
- Nocturnal oxygen desaturation (temporary drop in oxygen levels in hemoglobin)
- Lowered neuropsychological functions, with reduced ability to consolidate memory.
rs10878269 And Snoring
The rs10878269 is G>A polymorphism located in the MSRB3 gene. A study by Jones, Samuel E., et al.2016 showed that variant rs10878269 was significantly associated with reduced snoring risk.
Non-genetic Influences On Snoring
- Mouth anatomy* : A low, thick, and soft palate can narrow down the airway and may result in snoring
- Nasal problems : Deviated nasal septum and nasal congestion can contribute to snoring.
- Sex : Men are more likely to snore or have sleep apnea than women.
- Obesity : Fatty tissues in the neck of obese/overweight people can narrow the airways and cause snoring.
- Sleep Deprivation : Not getting enough sleep can lead to throat relaxation.
Effects Of Snoring
Snoring is not often considered a serious health concern except in some conditions. Snoring can usually be cured through simple home remedies. Light and infrequent snoring is completely normal. Snoring that is linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is, however, worrisome and needs to be treated.
Tips For A Snore-free Sleep
- Reduce the consumption of alcohol and sedatives as this relaxes your muscles and leads to snoring.
- Maintain your weight as obesity and being overweight are risk factors for snoring and sleep apnea.
- Change your sleeping position. When you sleep on your back, your airway has higher chances of getting blocked. Sleeping on your side, raising your head by a few inches, or using a pillow to improve your neck position are a few alternative sleep positions to try.
- Relieve nasal congestion before you sleep.
- Anti-snoring mouthpieces can be used to hold your jaw and tongue in a suitable position to prevent blockage of the airway,
- Throat exercises can help strengthen the muscles and prevent them from collapsing during sleep.
- Try to quit smoking. Smoking can result in inflammation in the upper airway passage, and this blocks airflow.
- Snoring is a common sleep disorder that affects over 90 million Americans. It is characterized by a loud noise from the nose/mouth due to an obstructed airway.
- Genetic predisposition, throat weakness, obesity, mispositioned jaw, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption, and mouth breathing are some risk factors associated with snoring.
- The MSRB3 gene, associated with protein and lipid metabolism pathways related to lung function and hippocampal volume, affects sleep-related snoring. The rs10878269 SNP, a G>A polymorphism, is associated with a reduced risk of snoring.
- Snoring is not a serious health concern unless linked to other sleep disorders like Obstructive Sleep Apnea(OSA).
- Changing your sleeping position, maintaining a healthy weight, reduced alcohol consumption and smoking, and throat exercises are some of the recommendations to have a snore-free sleep at night.