Popular Science Monthly/Volume 11/October 1877/Snoring, and How to Stop it
By JOHN A. WYETH, M. D.
TO those unacquainted with the mysterious parlance of the anatomist, the use of strictly scientific terms might prove discouraging and fail to interest. I shall therefore discard the scientific in favor of the every-day phrases, in explanation of the following figure (1), which, it will be observed, represents a human head split from above downward through the central line.
Through the only two channels in which the air travels in going to the lungs, namely, through the nose and mouth, are drawn two arrows,
a and b. These two passages unite in a common cavity at f, and from that point there is but one tube leading to the lungs.
At c is a bone called the hard palate, which forms the roof of the mouth and the floor of the nose, separating these two air-channels from each other. At the inner or posterior end of the bone, c, is seen a little body, d, called the soft palate, made of muscle and covered with a delicate skin. This soft palate is attached at one end to c, the hard palate; the other end hangs loose, and moves or flaps in the act of breathing, something like a window-curtain when acted upon by a current of air. This is its condition while we are asleep or awake, though during sleep it lacks in tonicity, being much more relaxed, or flabby, than when we are awake. At e is represented the tongue.
Now, in order to snore, one must keep the mouth open, as well as the nose, and in this condition the two currents of air, a and b, pass-in in and out together during the acts of breathing, catch this little curtain, d, between them, and throw it into rapid vibration. This vibration, more or less intense and sonorous, is what we call snoring.
It is only with the mouth open that snoring can be accomplished during sleep. Awake, if the nose is closed by the thumb and finger, by taking a forcible breath, it is possible to snore, and the same result may be accomplished with the mouth shut and the nose open; but the muscular effort necessary to its accomplishment is more than we can command during sleep, and would wake up the individual who might unconsciously make the effort.
If the mouth be closed (the natural condition during slumber), but one current of air will pass to and from the lungs. This current, pressing about equally upon all sides of the canal indicated at a, will press the soft palate, d, forward and downward until it is applied to the tongue, e, and will hold it there gently, thus preventing any sonorous vibration.
It follows that any device which prevents the lower jaw from dropping down, during the relaxation of sleep, and opening the mouth, will shut out the one unnatural current of air and prevent snoring.
I have devised the apparatus represented in Fig. 2, which consists of a simple cap, a, fitting the head snugly; a cap of soft material, b, fitting the chin; and a piece of elastic webbing, c, tacked to the chin-piece, and to the head-cap near the ears. The webbing can be made more or less tense as may be required to effect the closure of the mouth.
The apparatus is so simple that anyone can make it; and the writer hopes this explanation will recommend itself to those individuals who, from the possession of this unfortunate habit, are a nuisance to everybody—excepting themselves.