Did you know that 25 percent of all adults snore? And that snoring can range from 50 to 100 decibels, which, if the average is 80 decibels, means that someone (or yourself) could be snoring at the same sound level as a garbage disposal. Or as quietly as a vacuum cleaner? Or as loud as a Boeing 707 at 1 nautical mile before landing?
I know these facts because, without mentioning names, there are occasions when a certain member of our family either suffers from intermittent snoring or is landing a commercial airplane 1 nautical mile from my bedroom. It's not the kids -- they hear it, too. And it's not me; it's simply impossible to be sound asleep and sawing logs while lying there, wide awake, researching facts about snoring to distract me from the temptation to poke, kick, punch or push to gently remind someone that a garbage disposal does not work well as a relaxation sound machine.
These are things I have learned, and although I will never claim to be a sleep scientist, I'm pretty sure the mighty internet is claiming these things:
Snoring is caused by being relaxed. When you are asleep and very relaxed, and even more so when the relaxation is enhanced by a big, heavy meal with big, heavy drinks, your tongue falls backward. Your throat becomes floppy. And as you breathe in and out, your throat starts to vibrate and makes that excruciating sound that finds the rest of your family with their pillows over their heads.
Snoring is hereditary. If one of your parents snored and made you wonder if there was an active chainsaw in the room down the hall, you've got a better chance of having this habit as an adult.
Snoring has kept so many people awake at night, that copious research has been done on how to solve this problem. There are a number of cures or suggestions that range from strips of adhesive across your nose to essential oils applied to the underside of your big toe before bed. My favorite recommendation, however, is to do exercises to strengthen the muscles in your upper throat so that they'll stay firm and won't lead to snoring. The suggested exercise? Playing the didgeridoo, that lovely Australian aboriginal instrument. (I'm not making this up.)
Despite my research, eventually my body gives in and I fall asleep. This is, of course, after the energetic rolling around and shaking of the bed in order for others to readjust position. Either this uncommon problem of our household goes away for the night or exhaustion kicks in. Either way, I wake up, make a little extra coffee, send my husband and children off to work and school with a kiss and do some online shopping for a didgeridoo.
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