Does your partner grind their gears while they sleep? Perhaps it’s you or your kids. Whatever the case, you’re not alone. About half of all people around the world snore at some point in their lives. Fortunately, we have the definitive snoring guide to help you through.
That means over 3 billion people are active snorers. It appears like we are a snoring species, after all.
Even though snoring is a human thing, it is among our most obnoxious habits. Truth is, snoring can be a nuisance to anyone who is sleeping nearby, and even more irritating for partners who spend nights together.
This article will look at the causes of this intolerant human habit, its signs and symptoms, and how it can be prevented through home and premium remedies. We’ll also look into some important things you need to know about snoring.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the common name for obstructive breathing during sleep. Normally, snoring occurs when air is obstructed by tissues in the respiratory tract. As air tries to pass through these structures, they vibrate with a snorting sound.
While everyone may occasionally snore, for some people, snoring is habitual. In such cases, snoring may be a red flag for severe health conditions.
For occasional snorers, the leading cause of snoring may be sleep deprivation. Chronic snoring is more likely to be a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Snoring can either be soft or unpleasant loud. On most occasions, snoring is loud and obnoxious. Loud snorers can suffer low sleep quality and experience fatigue during the day. Even worse, they can irritate their partners and wreak havoc on stable relationships.
Habitual snoring may be a sign of deep-rooted health issues. Most snorers have a lot of nasal and throat tissue that is more prone to vibrate when relaxed. The tongue position while asleep may also be involved to disrupt normal breathing.
Causes of Snoring
As one advance in age, the throat experiences some changes. As a person reaches middle age, the throat narrows, consequently decreasing the throat’s muscle tone. Since people cannot do anything to prevent aging, changes in lifestyle, and new sleeping schedules help to avoid snoring.
An overweight person is more likely to snore compared to a physically fit person. This is because fatty tissues found in the body contribute to snoring. A weak muscle tone makes a person more prone to snoring.
Nonetheless, snoring does not only affect individuals who are overweight. People with a lot of fat around the throat areas are also prone to snoring. People should eat healthy foods and exercise regularly to avoid issues related to excessive body weight.
3. Body Structure
People are built in different ways. For instance, Men have narrow air passages, while women have a wider one. Men are, therefore, more likely to snore compared to women.
Some genetic, physical structures contribute to snoring. These include; narrow throats, large adenoids, and cleft palates, among other structures.
Since people cannot control how they were born or their gender, snoring due to body structure can be reduced by adopting the right lifestyle changes along with doing exercises that focus on improving the throat.
4. Drugs and Medicines
Snoring can be a result of drug and medicine use. Alcohol addicts and cigarette smokers are more likely to snore at night. Further, medications like tranquilizers can cause snoring. For instance, Valium and Ativan cause snoring because they have a relaxation effect on one’s muscles.
5. Sleeping Position
Some sleeping postures are associated with snoring. People who sleep flat on their Backs are more likely to snore. This is because the flesh in the throat relaxes and blocks the airways.
Changing sleep positions can help minimize or even prevent snoring.
Is Snoring a Serious Problem?
Snoring is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. In this sleeping disorder, an individual’s breathing process regularly interrupts sleep at night in brief intervals. Unlike sleep apnea, regular snoring does not have an effect on the quality of one’s sleep. If a person feels sleepy and fatigues during the day, they could be suffering from sleep apnea. In the case of the following signs and symptoms, one must seek medical advice.
- Loud and heavy snoring.
- Fatigue during the day.
- Gasping, choking, or failing to breathe when asleep.
- Sleeping during odd times like when eating or with friends.
What Does my Snoring Show?
Regular monitoring of the way a person sleeps can help answer any questions about snoring. For example, why does a person snore? What conditions worsen the snoring? And what measures do they need to take to prevent the snoring?
Using a sleep diary can help record and monitor snoring patterns. People close to snorers like a sleep partner can help one fill the sleep diary. In case you lack a sleeping partner, setting up a camera to record sleeping patterns when sleeping works just fine.
What does your snoring show?
|How you snore
|What it shows
|The mouth is closed when snoring
|The mouth is open when snoring
|Issues with the throat tissues
|Snore when sleeping on your Back
|Mild snorer – New sleeping habits and changed lifestyle habits can help in stopping the problem.
|Snore when in all sleep postures
|More severe Snoring – Seek help from healthcare personnel.
Types of Snoring
Not all snoring is equal. There are different kinds of snoring.
Some mild snorers can stop snoring when they change their sleeping position while others need snoring aids or medical treatment.
Below are some of the different kinds of snoring.
a) Snoring through the Nose
People naturally breathe through the nose. Snoring through the nose is thus a type of snoring that occurs if one’s nostrils are blocked. The nostrils may be blocked by a deviated septum or any other obstruction in the nasal tract.
Colds, dust allergies, stiffness in the nose areas, and some medicines may also cause nostrils to be blocked.
To know whether you are a nasal snorer, you can close one side of the nose then try to breathe with the mouth is closed. If it becomes impossible to breathe, there is a high chance you are a nasal snorer.
Nasal based snoring can be treated in different ways, depending on the cause of blocked nostrils.
- Incase the septum deviates, one may consider undergoing surgery.
- When dust allergy is the cause, you should keep their home neat and tidy.
- Smoking causes obstruction, you should stop smoking.
- If a nasal obstruction occurs due to cold or nose stiffness, you should consider getting nasal dilators strips or nasal rinse.
Nasal plugs can be used if the snoring is mild. A nasal plug is simply a tiny plastic device that is attached in the nose to prevent the narrowing of the nostrils.
Nose adhesive strips can also be placed outside the nose. Antihistamines can make the nose inflamed and obstruct the nostrils partially.
b) Snoring through the Mouth
If one decides to breathe through the mouth when asleep instead of using the nose, snoring occurs.
One cause for breathing through the mouth is weak palatial tissues block nasal passages. Another reason is the enlarged tonsils. These tissues can vibrate when you’re living through the mouth.
Most nasal snorers can quickly become mouth snorers because their nasal passages are blocked. People who breathe through the mouth are at risk of getting infections since air is not filtered through the nose. To avoid snoring through the mouth, people can use mouth guards, which help to keep the mouth closed. Alternatively, you can use adhesive tapes.
Mandibular adjustment devices can be used to prevent this type of snoring. They work by maintaining open airways when one is asleep. Breathing through the mouth becomes possible with the device.
An individual can also opt to lose weight since it helps prevent this type of snoring. When one loses weight, the muscles around the neck become tighter and hence avoid snoring. Changing the sleeping position can also help to reduce this type of snoring.
c) Tongue-based Snoring
This type of snoring occurs when the tongue is relaxed. The tongue relaxes mostly when one lies on their Back as it stops air from flowing to the lungs. Since air does not get to the lungs, breathing becomes difficult; hence the snoring occurs.
Alcohol addicts and people who take sleeping pills are more likely to experience this type of snoring. People with too much fat around the neck areas are also more likely to experience this type of snoring.
To prevent this kind of snoring, anti-snoring pillows and backpacks can be used. They help to ensure that one lies on their side to prevent them from turning to their Back, hence making it easy for air to flow to the lungs. Mandibular advancement devices and snoring mouthpieces are designed for this type of snorers. These two devices help move the jaws forward to prevent the tongue from blocking the Back of the throat. They thus see to it that breathing is not interrupted during sleep.
To know whether you are a tongue snorer, try making a snoring noise with your tongue out. Put the language between the teeth and repeat, making the sound again. If the sound produced during the second trial is lower, there are high chances that you are a tongue snorer.
Tongue Stabilizing Devices (TSDs) help prevents this type of snoring. TSDs help to hold the tip of the tongue forward. When using the mouthpieces, a person has to breathe through the nose since the device makes it difficult to breathe through the mouth.
d) Throat-based Snoring
This is the most dangerous kind of snoring. It is also the loudest type of snoring among the four.
The leading cause of throat-based snoring is sleep apnea, a condition where a person severely stops breathing during the night. This type of snoring mostly takes place when the soft tissues and muscles found in the throat are relaxed. Their relaxation blocks the throat walls and prevents air from passing through.
This type of snoring can occur in any sleeping position. Throat based snoring can cause stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes if left untreated. Throat-based snoring should be treated immediately; it is discovered. UAS therapy, CPAP therapy, and UPAP therapy are the most common ways to treat this type of snoring.
Symptoms of the Different Types of Snoring
Snoring Through the Mouth
- Snoring only occurs if the mouth is open.
- People showing this kind of snoring mostly sleep on their backs or on their sides.
Snoring Through the Nose
- Breathing through the nose does not take place even when awake.
- The snoring sound produced is like that of a grunt sound or whistle.
- It leads to headaches, dry mouth, and bad breath.
- Snoring only occurs when one is sleeping on their Back.
- One may have an enormous tongue.
- The snoring is shown by high pitched sounds, which are inconsistent.
- One snores in any sleeping position.
- Symptoms experienced during the day include low concentration at work, headaches in the morning, and feeling sleepy during the day.
- Symptoms during the night include going to the bathroom regularly, snoring loudly, finding it difficult to breathe when asleep, and waking up with a dry mouth.
What to do at a Personal Level to Prevent snoring
In the market today, many devices claim to provide solutions to the snoring problem. Numerous products and tools are being innovated, hence finding the right device can be overwhelming.
Most of the equipment made to reduce snoring is not thoroughly researched. This factor has resulted in the flooding of devices that works insufficiently or only when users are awake.
Besides using this equipment, multiple other techniques can be used to prevent snoring. Further, different approaches may or may not work depending on the person.
To prevent snoring, one must therefore be patient, and make a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few ways to tackle the snoring problem on your own.
1. Change Sleeping Posture
A change in sleeping posture can help to prevent snoring. Raising the head to a height of four inches makes it easier for breathing to take place. It also allows the jaw to move forward and ensure that breathing easily takes place. There are customized pillows made by manufacturers to prevent snoring. These pillows are designed to ensure that the neck and muscles do not get crimped when a person sleeps.
2. Don’t Sleep on your Back
People who sleep on their backs have a snoring history. To avoid this, one should sleep on their side instead of their Back. A person can make this strategy effective by attaching a tennis ball to the Back of their top or t-shirt.
When rolling over onto the back, the discomfort caused by the tennis ball will make you sleep on your side. You can also opt to wedge a pillow full of tennis balls behind the Back. When this is done for some days, the habit of sleeping on the Back ceases.
3. Moist Bedroom Air
Dry air irritates nose and throat membranes. Air that is breathed in should thus be moist. Humidifiers may come in handy, especially if an individual’s nasal tissues are swollen.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Snoring
4. Weight Loss
Even the least of weight decrease in one’s body causes loss of fatty tissues in the Back of the throat. By losing weight, one might experience a reduction or even no more snoring.
5. Say NO to Smoking
Smokers are more prone to snoring than non-smokers. This is because when a person smokes, the nose and throat membranes become irritated. This irritation blocks the airways causing a person to snore. A snorer can quit smoking to prevent snoring.
6. Avoid Alcohol, Sedatives, and Sleeping Pills
Alcohol, along with some medications, cause a relaxation effect on throat muscles. This interferes with breathing.
In the case where snoring is attributed to medications, a person should consult with his or her doctor to understand the possible side effects of drugs and ways to reduce them.
Sleeping pills, for example, help by encouraging a deeper sleep level. This can make snoring worse than it already is.
7. Food Components
It is essential to eat healthy foods to improve your wellbeing. In the case of snoring, beneficial food components in your meals may contain nutrients that enhance body function, including sleep. Notably, some food components contribute to snoring. For instance, the intake of foods like soymilk and dairy before sleeping can make snoring worse.
Studies show that exercise reduces snoring. While some exercises might not lead to weight loss, they can prevent snoring. While exercising, different muscles, e.g., legs and abs, are toned. Toning legs and abs consequently tone one’s throat muscles as well. This reduces the intensity of snoring. s
There are special exercises that can be done to make the throat muscles stronger.
- Name the five vowels loudly three minutes regularly each day. When pronouncing these vowels, the tongue gets curled in different ways. Muscles found in the upper part of the respiratory tract are therefore made stronger. As a result, snoring is significantly reduced.
- Slide your tongue to the Back of your mouth three times a day. To do this, you should place the tip of the tongue behind their top front teeth.
- Hold your breath for 30 seconds, purse your lips with a closed mouth.
- Open your mouth and contract the muscles at the Back of the throat for 30 seconds. Do this more than once. Be sure to look at the mirror when doing this to see the uvula moving up and down.
- Sing. The muscle control in the throat and soft palate increases when you sing. This helps reduce snoring, given that the muscles are at laxity when singing.
9. Medical Options to Reduce Snoring
When self-guided remedies fail to work, it is essential to seek medical treatment. With the latest technological advancements in the healthcare sector, medical options for snoring are more comfortable and practical today. Otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) and physicians can recommend a prescription that can reduce and stop snoring.
* Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
CPAP is one of the most common medical treatments that are safe and effective. This method requires the snorer to wear a mask to cover the nose while sleeping. The mask keeps airways open during sleep and reduces snoring.
The machine used to administer CPAP functions as an air compressor. To complete the process, the device delivers normal air, which does not have high oxygen concentrations. It then uses air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep.
* Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)
In LAUP, a laser shortens hanging tissue found at the back of the throat (uvula). The laser will also make cuts on either side of the soft palate. Eventually, when the cuts get healed, the tissues surrounding the cuts become stiffer hence prevent vibrations that cause snoring.
* Implants in the Palate
Also known as the Pillar procedure, palatial implantation works by attaching tiny implants made of plastic in the soft palate. The implants are attached using a syringe and local anesthetic. The implants make the soft palate rigid, hence prevents it from collapsing.
Palatial implantation is not an invasive procedure. When it was first indicated, three ‘pillars’ were to be inserted in the soft palate. With time, physicians have noticed that using more implants initiated a more significant response. The process takes less than 30 minutes and can be done on an outpatient basis. The procedure is said to be effective since it looks at one of the leading causes of snoring; the collapse of the soft palate and vibration.
Somnoplasty uses low radiofrequency heat levels between 77oC and 85oC to get rid of the uvula and soft palate tissues that vibrate when a person snores. The tissue beneath the skin also becomes scarred. The treatment is stiffened once healing occurs.
For the procedure to take place, one has to be under local anesthesia. It lasts for 30 minutes. Also, the treatment occurs based on an outpatient. Somnoplasty often requires more than one session of therapy. While ablation of radiofrequency may reduce how severe snoring is, it does not entirely eliminate the snoring.
* Custom Dental Devices and Lower Jaw Positioners
These devices and Positioners help a person to bring the tongue forward and lower the jaw to open the airways. To get the best results through this, a dentist will be the best person to conduct the procedure. These devices are called mandibular advancement splints.
The splints have been proven effective in cases where the snoring problem is either moderate or mild. Many people with snoring issues prefer these devices to CPAP machines.
Different surgical procedures can reduce snoring. Examples of snore-based surgeries are Tonsillectomy, Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), adenoidectomy, and Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP) are among the standard surgical procedures that one can take to treat snoring problems.
Surgeries make the airway sizes larger by getting rid of tissues or correcting any abnormalities. They are invasive and high risk, and therefore, may cause adverse side effects.
One of the most dangerous effects that can occur as a result of surgeries is the formation of a scar in the throat. This could become excessive, hence making the airway narrower than it was before the surgery, diminishing the air in the velopharynx.
- A Snoring Spouse
While love is what keeps many couples together, snoring can drive partners apart. If you have to be awake all night because you have a snoring partner, a feeling of resentment may start to creep in.
On the other hand, if you are the snorer, you may deprive your partner of quality sleep and make them feel guilty and helpless.
At times, one might even feel like a spouse is being a nuisance for blaming you for something beyond your control. On occasion, when snoring is the issue, tension begins to grow in the relationship. This may result from significant problems such as:
- Sleeping in Different Rooms
Some couples might take this to be a solution to their problem. However, when a couple sleeps in different rooms, their physical and emotional intimacy is left at bay. More often than not, the snorer thinks they are being punished unfairly and are being isolated.
Lack of sleep does not only occur to the person who is not snoring. Since disordered breathing is the cause of snoring, the snorer also experiences a lack of sleep.
Lack of sleep affects people’s moods, the way they think, the ability to manage stress and conflict, and their judgment levels. This can cause poor communication among spouses. It can also affect an individual’s efforts to try and talk about the issue of snoring in the relationship.
- Being Resentful
The spouse who does not snore might resort to doing anything so that they can sleep during the night. Some people use sound machines or earplugs.
In the cases where the snorer is not doing anything to combat snoring, the other partner may end up feeling resentful. Couples must, therefore, work together to find a way to prevent snoring, along with issues that may occur in their relationship because of snoring.
People who value each other in a relationship should prioritize finding a solution to the sleeping problem together to improve both their quality of sleep. A couple’s bond with each other is often strengthened when they work together to solve problems within their relationship.
How to Talk to a Snoring Partner
Maybe snoring could be the only thing that puts you off from your partner. This is not very unusual. Most of us have to agree that when it comes to sleep, we will do anything to get it.
However, it should is essential to note that when you lose a whole night’s sleep because of a partner’s snoring, you should not disrespectfully confront them. We might become over-reactive and irritable when sleep-deprived, but we should also consider the other person’s esteem. The snoring problem is what you want to do away with, not the person.
So when talking about snoring:
- Be careful about what you say. The talk should also be at the right time. Discussions done early in the morning or in the middle of the night are not advisable. During such times, most people are exhausted.
- Snoring is not intentional. When addressing the issue, do not make the person feel like they are snoring intentionally. They are not depriving you of your sleep deliberately.
- Lashing out is not an option. Lack of sleep can cause many problems but do not confront the person in an unfriendly way.
- Don’t be bitter. Since the sleeping partner is someone you are close to, do not be upset about other issues. One might be tempted to bring in other non-related issues and start showing them they are a failure.
- When approaching the issue, do so skillfully. Laughing about it can help ease the tension created by the topic. Humor should also come in when discussing the issue.
How to Deal with Snoring Complaints
Any time when we are told something negative, we tend to get hurt, and sometimes this affects our esteem. Snoring is not an exception.
On most occasions, people do not think that their sleeping partners can talk to them about the issue. While people are not keen on broken relationships due to snoring, it is a serious issue that has affected many relationships. If the snorer takes the other person’s pleas lightly, the non-snorer might think that the snorer does not care about them.
When working together to find a solution to the snoring problem, always remember that:
- Snoring occurs naturally. Nobody should feel embarrassed because they are snorers. It is something like a muscle pull or flu. The ability to improve the condition depends on you.
- Don’t take it personally. When your partner complains about the issue, do not take it as criticism. Your partner still loves you, but the snoring doesn’t make them happy.
- Don’t disregard the complaints. You should take everything said by your partner very seriously, even snoring. Lack of sleep can have very adverse effects on your partner’s health.
- Show your partner that you care about the relationship. Once a couple realizes this, they will do anything to find a cure to the snoring issue.
- Speak out your opinions. Since your partner is talking to you about how to stop snoring, ask them to understand you and to prevent any inappropriate behavior in reaction to snorts.
The solution to snoring has been in the quest for a very long period. As a result, many devices have been launched to cure the problem.
Although some devices might work for some people, others have never helped people with snoring issues.
To know which anti-snoring devices may work for you, consider these factors:
- Design- people snore for different reasons. A device that addresses only one cause for snoring might not work for someone who does not snore for that reason. Design-wise, the breathing strips firmly hold one’s nostrils open to improving airflow. Nasal dilators work to prevent the nostrils from collapsing when one is asleep. These designs are used internally. Since snoring is caused by the relaxation of the soft palate, a chin strap or mouth guard is needed to stop snoring. On other events, the tongue covers the soft palate and the throat, causing one to snore. To reduce this type of snoring, special tongue stabilizers are used. If one has sleep apnea, they can consider using the CPAP.
- Comfort- Anti-snoring devices should be comfortable to use. It does not matter whether they involve non-invasive breathing strips or CPAP therapies. Most devices are made with the end-user in mind. Some even use medical ingredients like latex and silicone. While manufacturers do all they can to ensure comfort, the sleeping position of the user can make the device uncomfortable to have on. Many people try different options before settling for one device, which they find comfortable and relieving.
- Supplementary remedies- sometimes, it can be challenging to find the root cause of snoring. Unless one consults with a professional or undertakes a sleep study, it can take years to know the reason for snoring. Anti-snoring devices may reduce snoring frequency and intensity. However, they may not help to find a permanent solution to the problem. Anti-snoring devices should thus be used with other supplementary remedies like weight loss, sinus medications, changing humidity levels, adjusting the sleeping positions, and allergy medicines.
- Cost- different anti-snoring devices will have different prices depending on how they are used to stop snoring. Complex devices like mouthpieces and customized pillows can cost as much as $100. In contrast, essential devices like nasal dilators and tongue stabilizers range from $6.
Examples of Anti-Snoring Devices
1. Breathe Right Nasal Strips
This anti-snoring device is not only practical but also convenient. It is designed to keep the nasal passages clear and open. To use it, apply it above the bridge of the nose
Breathe Right Nasal Strips work best when used occasionally. They could also be used regularly, significantly if the snorer has deviated septum or allergies.
These devices are available in different designs and formulas. The type that has clear strips is suitable for people with sensitive skin. They are comfortable to wear and to sleep with during the night. For the strips to stick well, the user should have a dry and clean nose.
Remember to clean and dry your face thoroughly before using a Breathe Right Nasal Strip.
2. Snorepin Anti Snoring Aid
The snorepin snoring aid is a small device that is fixed on each of the two nostrils. This helps in dilating the nostrils to make breathing easy throughout the night.
Unlike most strips which are discarded after use, the device can be washed and recycled. This helps to save money. The device has two sets per package. It might not be sufficient for everyone due to the fit of the nostrils. However, some people who have used them say that they are worth trying.
People who like this device complement its ease of use, as well as the fact that they are not easily visible.
3. Theravent Snore Therapy
Snorers who want a quick and easy relief could opt for these strips. To wear them, a person should place one of the strips that are vented on the nostrils before going to bed. These strips could be confused for a bandage.
When breathing, a person uses his or her own power to live, consequently reducing snoring that occurs when the nasal passages are open. These devices are tiny and portable. They may not work for everyone, but they provide relief to some people.
4. Anti-Snoring Chin Strap
This device helps reduce snoring for mouth snorers. It helps to ensure that the mouth is closed, forcing one to breathe through the nose. The device has a large fitting that suits children as well as adults.
The materials used to make the straps are light and comfortable. It has Velcro, which helps to fasten it. It also has large spaces that are fitted around one’s ears. Also, the device has magnets that help to promote blood circulation, hence reducing snoring.
5. Banyan Botanicals Nasya Oil
These drops are for those who do not feel comfortable wearing the anti-snoring devices. They help to ensure that the nasal passages are lubricated. They also get rid of excess mucus to help a person breathe easily.
When using it, one has to lie down and put around five drops in each of the nostrils. The drops should not be used by pregnant women or people who have flu. Just like with all other supplements, a user should consult with their doctor before using the drops.
Snoring is a sleeping problem that varies from person to person. Some people snore occasionally, while others snore daily. Some people can stop snoring by merely changing their sleeping positions. In contrast, others need to use different medications and anti-snoring devices to prevent the condition.
Snorers can also be mouth snorers, tongue snorers, nose snorers, or throat snorers. Throat snorers snore loudest. If you’re a loud snorer, you should seek medical intervention immediately as loud snoring could lead to more severe health problems.
Snoring can be caused by different factors like obesity, sleeping position, age, alcohol, and medicine intake, among other causes. Research shows that men snore more compared to women and old people are likely to snore more compared to young people
Sleeping next to a snoring person could be irritating. While most people are afraid of confronting the snorer, you should try to converse with your partner to avoid tension and bigger problems. When talking to the person, don’t be harsh . Instead, work together to find an adequate remedy.
Snoring can be prevented using different ways. On a personal level, you could adjust your sleeping positions, do regular exercise, and practice healthy lifestyles. Tongue stabilizers and customized pillows can also help to reduce snoring. Another option for snorers is to use medications or resort to different therapies.
Multiple anti-snoring devices in the market today are designed to reduce snoring. Some are worn as bandages, others fitted in the nostrils while others are worn on the face. There is also an option to use drops for those who find other devices uncomfortable.
Sleep-related problems have a significant effect on our bodies and much more on our relationships. Therefore, you should try to find a practical solution. It may not come about quickly. However, once you find a suitable fix, you can save your partner from a night of torment, and even from a broken relationship.