Snoring is not normal, at any age.
When someone snores, there is likely to be narrowing of the upper airway and/or nasal passages. Snoring may be coming from the nose and/or the mouth.
Snoring may lead to sleep apnoea, in which breathing actually stops during sleep. There are two types of such condition, one is central sleep apnoea and the other is obstructive sleep apnoea.
Central sleep apnoea is more challenging to manage, because it is derived from neurological dysfunctions. Obstructive sleep apnoea is the more common form, and is usually associated with physical blockage of the airway.
Three of the main pre-disposing factors to snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea are as follows:
- Narrow jaws
- Retrognathia, meaning the jaws are positioned too far back
- Dysfunctional breathing patterns including mouth breathing
The first two factors are anatomical, making the tongue more prone to falling back to block the airway, or making the airway too small in the first place. This may even be worsened if there is a tongue tie, where the elevation of the tongue is compromised, making it easier to collapse backward into the airway.
Orofacial myofunctional pre-orthodontics may be the treatment option of choice for the growing children. With non-growing individuals, there are snoring and sleep apnoea solutions that may be suitable, depending on individual cases, which may include the use of oral devices and/or orofacial myofunctional therapy.
Additionally, when someone is snoring and has sleep apnoea, their nervous system becomes dysregulated, due to the body being under stress most of the time during sleep. Because of the stress, the sympathetic nervous system, which is the fight and flight response, is usually in overdrive, resulting in poor sleep quality.
There are various signs and symptoms that may be apparent when this occurs, including, but not limited to:
- Restless sleep
- Teeth grinding
- Bed-wetting or frequent waking to go to the bathroom
- Night terrors
- Waking up tired in the morning
- Behavioural issues due to being over-tired
Other pre-disposing factors to snoring and sleep apnoea include:
- Being overweight
- Unhealthy diet and nutritional factors
- Watching screen technology during the evening
- Inflammation in the airways