Why do we breathe so high when we sleep?

During the most peaceful sleep, some people snore uncomfortably loudly and ruin the chances of sleep for anyone who shares their bedroom. But even those who do not snore breathe louder when they nod than when awake. Why do people breathe so loudly when they sleep?

The sound that comes when you breathe – whether you are awake or asleep – is caused by air vibrations moving through the respiratory tract, said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, a pulmonologist and sleep specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. How loud the breathing sounds depends on how narrow the breathing tube is and how fast air is moving through it. “You can almost see it as a musical instrument,” he said.

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