Why Don't Snorers Wake Themselves Up?

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Anyone who's ever slept in the same room as a loud snorer knows how infuriating it is to have to suffer through all that noise while the offending party remains blissfully oblivious and asleep.

Loud snorers can wake themselves up with their own log-sawing sounds, but only for a few seconds. That's why they may not be able to recall the sleep disturbance when they wake up the following morning, according to "Sleep: The Mysteries, The Problems, and The Solutions" (Penguin, 2007).

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Snoring is caused by breathing in air through a partially blocked airway, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). When that happens, air vibrates as it flows past the tissues in the back of the throat, which produces the snoring sound .

The AASM estimates that approximately 24 percent of women and 40 percent of men are habitual snorers. Snoring is more common in those that are overweight because they tend to have more fat tissue in the back of the throat, which increases vibration.

Loud snoring may also be a sign of an underlying problem such as sleep apnea, which is a chronic form of snoring that is characterized by the blockage of the air passage at the back of the mouth during sleep. Sleep apnea can cause a person to stop breathing for about 10 to 30 seconds, although some stop breathing for up to two minutes before their brain sets off the "arousal trigger" and wakes the person up, according to the book "Sleep."

Blocked air passages can cause those with sleep apnea to stop breathing and wake up hundreds of times throughout the course of a night, and they are usually unable to recall doing so the next morning. Besides preventing a person from feeling well-rested, the poor sleep quality caused by loud, chronic snoring can lead to cardiovascular problems, an increased chance of having metabolic syndrome and accidents associated with sleep deprivation.

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Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.