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Do you snore at night? Snoring is often overlooked as something no more than a slight nuisance, but it can be a symptom of something far more deadly. Read on.

When you breathe quietly it means that there is a free flow of air from the nasal passage down your throat to your lungs. However, for many people, studies estimate at least 30% of the population, there is some form of obstruction to this passage. This obstruction causes the air to vibrate, which makes the snoring sound.

Many people dismiss snoring as nothing more than an annoyance. However, it has more serious implications.

Marital discord

Does your partner snore? When one partner snores, the other partner often has difficulty sleeping, and this leads to partners sleeping in separate bedrooms. This by itself is a cause for concern, as sleeping separately can very quickly lead to the downhill slide of a relationship. So if your partner has been complaining about your snoring, don't take it lightly. Lack of sleep causes irritability and grouchiness, and tempers fly high. Ultimately, marital relationships turn sour. In any case, when one partner snores at night the other partner often develops feelings of resentment towards such partner, leading to further problems.

Sleep apnea

Snoring can be the symptom or cause of sleep apnea, which is a form of sleeping disorder. You may be able to tell if your partner has sleep apnea by observing the way he snores. If his snoring is rhythmic he may not have this disorder. But if the snoring is erratic, very loud and characterized by episodes of missing breaths and then he could be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can be dangerous if left untreated, which it often is, and can cause a host of other problems like heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure and even brain damage. This happens because when a person misses too many breaths, the body and brain suffers from oxygen deprivation.

When your partner is sleeping, count the number of seconds he goes without a breath. If he doesn't seem to be breathing for ten seconds or more, there may be a cause for concern. This is even less in the case of children, who breathe faster. If you suspect your partner or child is suffering from sleep apnea, it is a good idea to consult a medical practitioner and get his condition evaluated.

Here's what you can do to reduce snoring.

Sleep on your side

Sleeping on your back may disrupt breathing somewhat. If you sleep on your side, it could alleviate snoring.

Work out

Ever notice how overweight people are often depicted as snoring? This is because snoring could be caused by weak muscle tone and fat around the throat. Exercise regularly and try and keep yourself fit. If fat is the cause for your snoring, then getting rid of fat by doing cardiovascular exercises such as jogging or cycling will help improve your condition.

Food and drink

Don't eat anything and don't drink alcohol at least three hours before going to bed as these relax your neck muscles. Similarly, sleeping pills, antihistamines, dairy or soy milk relax throat muscles too, and are best avoided at bedtime

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