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Why We Breathe Heavier and Louder in our Sleep

June 9, 2020

Getting a peaceful sleep can be difficult with the sound of heavy breathing or snoring next to you – but what is actually causing it?

Whether you are awake or asleep, the sound of breathing is caused by vibrations of air moving through the breathing tube. How loud it is depends on the narrowness and speed of air passing through it – similar to a musical instrument.

When you’re asleep, the muscles which help hold your airway open relax. This narrows the breathing tube, making your breaths sound louder. Snoring occurs when your airways narrow further as the tissues in your airways vibrate too. Snoring is often a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), a condition where the airways narrow or collapse during sleep and stop your breathing. People with OSA may not realise that their airways close when they sleep, or they may wake up gasping for air. Doing a sleep study is the best way to find out!

Thankfully, there are many treatment options for people with OSA including weight loss, eliminating alcohol, mandibular advancement splints, positional devices and CPAP machines (which keep your airways open while you sleep). Speak to one of our friendly consultants or clinicians if you want to find out more.