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Why is our voice deeper in the morning?

Why is our voice deeper in the morning?


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For most (if not all) people, their voice sounds a lot deeper when they've just woken, compared to how they sound during the day. This effect can easily last for a few hours, like for me today. What are the biological reasons for this? I've heard that it has something to do with relaxation of your muscles during sleep, but I'm not sure how that is supposed to work, and there might be other factors at work.


I'm surprised there hasn't been any answer or comments but yes, this is a fairly well known phenomena. It's quite possible that not everyone finds this to be true for them or possible they've never even noticed it. If a person doesn't need to talk for the first 15 minutes to hour, they might not realise their voice is deeper and/or raspier first thing in the morning.

Speech pathologists, voice teachers and professional singers are certainly aware of this. There's been no solid research on why that I know of. After all who's going to fund research into something that's mainly a curiosity with no medical repercussions or profits to be made? Still, there are various thoughts on why this occurs (outside of acid reflux irritating the vocal cords).

During sleep while we're in a horizontal position, a certain amount of fluid collects in our upper body (read from the neck up), so our vocal cords will swell and thicken slightly. It's why our eyes look more puffy first thing when we arise. During the night, we're not using our vocal cords either but while breathing, air is still passing over them. So while the tissues swell a little, their outer membrane dries a little. To counter the drying effect, the body secretes more mucous as a protective coat. This effect is much worse in people who are mouth breathers.

Another possible reason is what voice teachers and singers think happens, too. Vocal cords, being muscles, need to stretch and contract to vary the voice's pitch. Unused through the night, they're nit as limber and can't stretch as well as later. Vocal cords stretch to reach higher pitches. If that idea sounds far-fetched, just remember opera singers and other professional singers need to limber up before performing. They practice hours each day but before a performance, they need their voice to be at its best. Hence they'll practice singing notes up and down the scale.

Supposedly, drinking a cup of lukewarm water first thing in the morning helps, and tea or coffee is supposed to dry out the throat even more. I never drink coffee but, personally, I've found that first hot cup of tea in the morning doesn't just help my voice return to normal but wakes me up.

I've never heard of this effect lasting for a couple of hours though I haven't gone around quizzing people. :) So try either the lukewarm water or a hot drink and see if it makes a difference. You can also try singing or just talking aloud to limber your cords in the morning.

Edited June 14/17 Links (but not scientific studies) where others have noted this phenomena

Why do people's voices sound deeper in the morning? I gave greater credence to the first answer since it comes from an opera singer.

Raspy Voice In The Morning?

And from Music SE Why is my voice lower pitched when I get up in the morning


Here's What Makes A Voice Sexy (Or Deeply Unsexy)

It’s a good time to be alive if you’re particularly turned on by voices. There’s audio erotica apps like Dipsea and Quinn. There’s ASMR that’s sexual. There are videos of Tom Hardy reading bedtime stories available for free on YouTube. (Yes, those videos are ostensibly for kids, but let’s be real: You know it’s mostly adults who are tuning in.)

Voices do a lot of heavy lifting when we’re dating, too. Studies have shown that people subconsciously lower their voices when trying to attract a person they’re interested in.

What is it about a voice that can get some of us going? The depth, the timbre? Why do we hear a rich, buttery voice on an otherwise run-of-the-mill NPR show and jump to conclusions about the attractiveness of the person speaking? What does it mean to have a f**kable voice?

Before you shake your head at the absurdity of having a voice so good, you’d screw it if possible, imagine, say, Jon Hamm telling you exactly what he wants to do to you in bed. Now imagine Jared Kushner, a man whose voice has been likened to “a young Michael Cera” and “a sassy Kermit the Frog,” telling you the very same thing. Completely different experience, right?

Let’s take this further, in a subjective (but ultimately correct) examination of sexy voices:

    voice? Definitely screwable. reading anything — hell, even an Applebee’s menu. Yes, please.
  • The voices of most white dudes who have a podcast? No, thanks.
  • Leonard Cohen crooning about Janis Joplin at the Chelsea Hotel or just talking? Yes! deep British accent? Sex on a stick. narrating some bird species’ weird mating ritual on “Planet Earth”? I’m sorry, Sir David, but no. aka Bob from “Bob’s Burger” and the lead on “Archer”? Might be the most f**kable voice yet!

“There are definitely those voices you hear that just get you going,” said Estevan Q., a Los Angeles-based writer and co-host of the pop culture podcast Your Gay Cousins.

“For me, there’s a certain texture and rhythm to a guy’s voice that can be so attractive,” Estevan said. “It isn’t necessarily about a voice being deep, but one that’s a bit gravelly, yet breathy — sort of how I imagine whiskey might sound if it had a voice.”

His fave? Armie Hammer. “He recorded the audiobook of my favorite novel, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and oh my God, it was so hot to have him in my ears,” Estevan said. “His husky voice just sounds like it wants to teach you things.”

There’s something conspiratorial and intimate about hearing a sexy-voiced person speak they might be reading the movie times or something equally mundane but you’re drawn in by that honeyed voice, and soon, your mind trails off to much naughtier places.

There needs to be a dating app where you can hear a sample of the person’s voice because that’s 50% of my attraction right there

&mdash DIAMANTE (@DIAMANTEband) October 7, 2018

Amanda Montell, a reporter and author of “Wordslut: A Feminist Guide to Taking Back the English Language,” even struggled to end things with a guy because his voice (or at least his accent) was so hot.

“I once continued dating this dude from Dublin for weeks longer than I really intended to because his Irish accent was so irresistible,” she said. “Dating someone with a European accent feels just as prestigious as dating someone who’s extraordinarily physically hot.”

She’s had bad luck in this area, too.

“I also once dated a guy whose voice sounded exactly like Kevin Spacey’s, which was a turn-off only because it’s not all that sexy to be romantically involved with someone whose voice is a dead ringer for a reported pedophile,” she said.

Scientifically speaking, what makes a voice sexy?

So what exactly sets a sexy voice apart from others? Studies show that women tend to prefer men with deep voices, which are linked to higher testosterone levels and general reproductive prowess. Men, meanwhile, are drawn to women with high-pitched voices, which are associated with high estrogen levels, perhaps serving as a cue to a woman’s health and fertility.

However, a 2010 study found that women actually affect an entirely different voice around a person they’re attracted to. Rather than a high-pitched, girlish voice, women drop their tones to a lower, sexier register. (Think: Lauren Bacall, Scarlett Johansson or Elaine Benes and the faux-sexy voice she uses to trick Jerry on “Seinfeld.”)

“A sexy voice voice is warm and inviting. It feels as if it is spoken from the chest, rather than the head. Its tones are pleasing and not at all nasal.”

“There is a stereotype of what is a sexual voice in our culture ― a low, breathy voice,” said Susan Hughes, the study’s author and an expert in evolutionary psychology.

Unscientifically speaking, a deep, typically sexy voice conveys richness, wisdom and strength.

Essentially, then, what we consider a sexy voice is partly determined by biology, and partly determined by society’s exaggerated ideas around voices, said Jean Berko Gleason, coauthor of the textbook “Psycholinguistics” and professor emerita at Boston University. (The husky, throaty voice isn’t likely to come off as sexy in Japan, she said, where women are expected to speak at the high end of their vocal range.)

“Overall, though, a sexy voice is warm and inviting,” she said. “It feels as if it is spoken from the chest, rather than the head. Its tones are pleasing and not at all nasal.” If it sounds like you’re talking through your nose, that kills any chance of having a sexy voice, she added.

Berko Gleason pointed to Viola Davis’ low, measured tones as an example of what might be considered a standard for a sexy voice. Lauren Bacall seductively teaching Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in the 1944 film “To Have and Have Not” is also pretty much a masterclass in sexy voice affectation. (The film’s director believed Bacall originally sounded “reedy” so, during production, she read aloud to herself, training to make her voice “lower, more masculine, sexier.”)

For an example of a sexy male voice, the professor went with a classic — James Earl Jones — as well as Barack Obama. Indeed, the former president has a voice so cool, calm and (let’s face it) jarringly sexy, it alone managed to lure in none other than Michelle Obama (née Robinson) when the pair first crossed paths in 1989.

As the former FLOTUS wrote in her memoir “Becoming,” she didn’t understand the hype about the new cute guy at her Chicago law firm. There was a “whiff of geekiness” to his staff photo, she wrote, though “his bio said he was originally from Hawaii, which at least made him a comparatively exotic geek.” (Ouch.)

But then, fatefully, she heard that voice.

“I made a quick obligatory phone call to introduce myself,” Michelle wrote. She was “pleasantly startled by the voice on the other end of the line ― a rich, even sexy, baritone that didn’t seem to match his photo one bit.”

Damn. And they said Reagan was “the great communicator.”

Sex Ed for Grown-Ups is a series tackling everything you didn’t learn about sex in school — beyond the birds and the bees. Keep checking back for more expert-based articles and personal stories.


What can cause a hoarse voice and how is it treated?

A hoarse voice is where the vocal cords become inflamed, causing a low, raspy voice. The inflammation can be due to several factors. Some causes are temporary, such as excessive shouting.

This article discusses the possible reasons for a hoarse voice, whether it is a cause for concern, and some treatment options.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NICDC) note that hoarseness refers to a voice that sounds raspy or strained with a lower pitch or softer volume. It can indicate an issue with the vocal cords or throat.

Hoarseness may be a sign of inflammation in the larynx, known as laryngitis. The larynx, also called the voice box, sits at the top of the throat and contains the vocal cords.

The vocal cords are two bands of cartilage and muscle that vibrate when a person speaks or eats. The size and shape of the vocal folds determine how a voice sounds.

Swelling or irritation of the vocal cords can limit the usual vibrational movement, leading to a person’s voice becoming hoarse.

There can be several causes of a hoarse voice, including the below.

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is one of the most common causes of a hoarse voice, and the condition can be acute or chronic. Acute laryngitis is usually due to an infection of the upper respiratory tract, such as the flu.

It can also occur due to overusing the voice, for example:

  • shouting
  • speaking loudly
  • singing loudly
  • talking for too long without rest
  • speaking in a voice that is too low or too high

Healthcare professionals define laryngitis as chronic if it persists beyond 3 weeks .

Possible causes of chronic laryngitis include:

  • smoking
  • excessive alcohol use
  • exposure to chemicals or dust that irritate the larynx

Vocal nodules, cysts, and polyps

Vocal nodules, cysts, and polyps are benign growths that can appear along the vocal folds.

  • Vocal nodules, or singer’s nodes, grow in pairs on the opposite sides of a person’s vocal cords. This can result in too much pressure or friction.
  • A vocal cyst is a hard growth of tissue that occurs inside the vocal cord.
  • Vocal polyps typically occur on one side of the vocal fold.

Treatments usually involve rest, surgery, or voice therapy.

Vocal fold hemorrhage

A vocal fold hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of a person’s vocal fold ruptures. They may experience a hoarse voice quickly, which can affect their singing voice.

If this occurs, a person should rest their voice immediately and contact a doctor.

Vocal cord paralysis

Vocal cord paralysis occurs when one or both vocal folds fail to open or close properly. This can be due to:

  • injury to the head, chest, or neck
  • tumors in the base of the skull, neck, and chest
  • thyroid cancer

Treatments involve voice therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

Neurological conditions

Some neurological conditions can affect the parts of the brain that control the throat and larynx muscles.

Acid reflux or GERD

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid rises and irritates the throat. In some people, it can damage the larynx. Healthcare professionals refer to this as laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR).

GERD is a severe form of acid reflex. If a person has GERD, they may notice a hoarse voice that is worse in the morning.

People with LPR may feel as if they have to clear their throat constantly.

Treatments include dietary changes and medications.

The indicators of a hoarse voice include a low, raspy voice. It can occur with other symptoms, depending on the underlying cause.

According to the Voice Foundation, other possible symptoms with a hoarse voice include:

  • the sensation of a lump in the throat
  • a dry feeling throat
  • constantly needing to clear the throat
  • persistent cough
  • postnasal drip
  • difficulty swallowing
  • mucus in the throat

Some symptoms might indicate a specific cause. For example, a bitter or sour taste in the mouth and worsening symptoms after consuming spicy foods may indicate GERD.

Treatments for a hoarse voice depend on the cause.

In some cases, resting the voice and drinking plenty of water will help the larynx recover. However, more persistent causes may require medical treatment.

Health experts note that a person may benefit from a speech and language therapist. This approach can help people avoid using the voice in a way that irritates the vocal cords, which may prevent further irritation.

If a hoarse voice is due to smoking or exposure to chemicals that irritate the larynx, a doctor will recommend avoiding these triggers. Not consuming excessive alcohol may also help.

If a viral infection is responsible for a hoarse voice, the symptoms may go away on their own. Doctors sometimes use antiviral medications to help with symptoms and shorten the recovery time by 1–2 days .


2. Head Cold Voice: Chronic Sinusitis

The common cold can produce what is considered to be an unflattering tone of voice when the nose is blocked. Cooper points out “head cold” voice sounds like a lack of nasal airflow, or a muffled, congested quality. “If air is not able to pass through the nasal passages (either due to illness or habit), a head-cold-like sounding voice may result,” she said. This leads the voice quality to be very different, since our tone of voice resonates in the nose and sinuses.

Permanent “head cold” voice can derive from chronic rhinosinusitis, the inflammation of the paranasal sinuses due to either an infection, allergy, or immune reaction to something in the environment. Some patients with chronic rhinosinusitis will go on to develop chronic sinusitis, where nasal polyps — abnormal but non-cancerous growth — block the sinuses. The Mayo Clinic says chronic sinusitis cannot be cured, but it can be treated with steroids to reduce the polyps. Sometimes these polyps may have to be surgically removed in the hospital if medication is not effective.


How to make your voice deeper permanently ( In 17 Ways )

A lot of people desire a deeper and manlier voice, some do possess the ability to change their voice in a matter of seconds, however, making their voice sounding deeper permanently can be a fairly difficult challenge. There are a lot of reasons why somebody would want to change their voice to a deeper one, anything from sounding more authoritative to actually getting people to listen to you.

One of the best ways to make your voice deeper permanently is by humming, as this will stretch and relax your vocal cords which will make you sound deeper. You should practice humming every day, and sooner or later your deep voice will become permanent. On the other hand, you can also have a deep voice by speaking slowly in a monotone fashion.

If you want to make your voice deeper then my personal recommendation is to use a product to keep your voice in top form Click here to check it out on Amazon.com

Generally speaking, a deeper voice is more trustworthy and authoritative, this is why so many CEO’s try having a deeper voice. Elizabeth Holmes the CEO of the multi-billion corporation Theranos is well known to have a deep voice, although, for the most part, she faked it. She used her deep voice in order to easily manipulate people and to sound more authoritative, which is a must for all leaders.

There are scientific studies confirming that there are fewer men with a deeper voice today than a couple of decades ago. This is due to the massive testosterone drop between the generations which actively affects the male and female voice if you want more information check out my recent article How to make your voice deeper ( 13 Fast and Easy Steps ). The truth is that in order to have a permanent deeper voice your body needs to go through some physical changed in order to accommodate for the deeper voice.

Practice humming to have a deeper voice

By far one of the best ways to getting a deeper voice permanently is by practicing humming. While you are humming your vocal cords will vibrate and stretch, this is what your main goal is. After you have practiced humming for a couple of minutes you will notice that while you are speaking your voice is significantly deeper. Practice humming every day and sooner or alter the deeper voice will come naturally. If you want to get better at singing then my personal recommendation is to check out my recent article How to sing better ( Top 47 Tips and Industry Secrets ).

Focus on using a deeper voice

If you want a permanent deeper voice then you will need to focus while talking and singing to maintain this deeper voice. Although at the beginning it will probably sound fairly fake it is just the first step. You will need to focus on how you speak and sing for the following weeks, your goal should be to have a naturally deep voice without even focusing on having it. Although this is a lot easier for males than females but it is still doable, it will only take more time.

Changing your behavior for a deeper voice

How you behave in front of others will definitely impact your voice, people who tend to be pushovers have a higher-toned voice especially when they feel threatened. People who stand their ground and are not afraid of confrontation will have a deeper voice. This is mostly due to our evolution as humans, conflict isn’t always the best when it comes from an evolutionary standpoint, instead of conflict intimidation can be used to scare off or intimidate the aggressors.

This intimidating behavior will result in a rush of adrenaline, increased blood flow to the muscles, and a deeper voice, although this is more in the case of males than females. The intimidating behavior is present in most animals on our planet and they too use their voice to intimidate others.

Lowering your jaw while speaking makes your voice sound deeper

There is a quite simple and easy trick to get a deeper voice instantly, while you are speaking lower your jaw and continue speaking. You will notice that your voice just got a lot deeper without almost any effort. This is a great way to alter your voice to a deeper one especially if you are on the phone. However, if you are speaking face to face with somebody by lowering your jaw will still make your voice sound deeper but it will look extremely awkward for the other person.

My recommendation is to only use the lower jaw technique only if the person with whom you are talking doesn’t see you, otherwise, it will look extremely weird, and they won’t even notice how deep your voice is, but they will notice how awkward you look with your lowered jaw.

Slowing down while speaking makes your voice sound deeper

When speaking and singing you will need to slow down a bit, it is extremely difficult to have a deeper voice if you are speaking or singing as fast as you can. While you are speaking fast the vocal cords are in constant tension and to achieve a deeper voice you will need to let your vocal cords relax. One of the best and easiest ways to get your vocal cords to relax while speaking is to slow down.


People who tend to speak fast have a squeaker voice, you should want to avoid this at all costs. Even if the conversation dynamics dictate that you should be speaking fast as everybody is doing so, instead of speaking fast, you should slow down, and you will see that a lot more people will start listening to you. Do note that there is a sweet spot of how slow you should speak if you speak way too slow you will still keep your deep voice but the listeners will not be receptive as you will take a long time to give out the information, at that point you are speaking so slow that people get bored.

Train your voice to sound deeper

In order to have a permanent deeper voice, you will have to train it. Your voice muscles will need to grow in order to be able to generate a deeper voice. In addition to this, you will have to actively train your voice with vocal exercises, if you are a singer my suggestion is to read my recent article How to have a clear voice for singing ( Fast & Easy ), this way you will learn how to get a clear voice on which you can build the foundation of your deeper voice.

Eat foods that make your voice sound deeper

If you have read my recent article ( Top 18 ) Foods to improve singing voice, you will find that there are certain foods that will actually help you to get a deeper voice. As your aim is to get a permanently deep voice my suggestion is to incorporate some of the foods listed in the article even if you are not a singer. Do note that there are a lot of food items that actually will hinder your progress into having a deeper voice, such as coffee, milk, and sodas.

My recommendation is to either cut back on the foods which don’t help you get a deeper voice and focus on the ones that actually do.

Hydrate your vocal cords to have a deeper voice

You have probably already heard how important hydration is when you want to change your voice, no matter if you are a singer or not. The problem is that most people start drinking a lot of water at different intervals, although by doing this you will have a better voice quality than others who do not hydrate themselves regularly. My recommendation is to take a sip of water once in a while, do not gorge yourself in water, as this way you will only end up wasting it in the toilet.

Monotone speaking makes your voice sound deeper

You have probably heard people with a deep voice speaking and you might have noticed that they are fairly monotone. These people tend not to have a very flexible tone and while speaking or singing they tend to stick to what they are good at, being monotone. Even people who do not have naturally a deep voice can fake one by being monotone, although as in everything in life there is a delicate balance to how monotone you can be before people simply ignore you.

Being too monotone might end up feeling like an extremely boring conversation to the listener, so you should watch the reaction of your friends when you are speaking this way.

Put emphasis on different words to sound deeper

Although this kind of contradicts the whole monotone technique you still would want to put some emphasis on certain words and at the end of each sentence. Your conversation or singing should sound natural and not forced to the listener, and in order to not be too monotone, you will have to use it. Generally speaking, it is a good idea to slow down at the end of a sentence, this way the listener knows that something is happening even if he is not even actively listening.

Watch old cowboy movies to learn how people with a deeper voice talk

If you are a fan of old western cowboy movies you will love this technique, most of these movie protagonists have a fairly deep manly voice. Watch a couple of Clint Eastwood‘s cowboy movies and observe how he speaks, he doesn’t even have a naturally deep voice but he sure sounds like he has. The main reason why he does sound to have a deep voice is that he is monotone and speaks slowly, now go ahead in front of the mirror and start practicing.

Observe and imitate others who have a deep voice

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from observing others, oftentimes people who do have a naturally deep voice have no idea how they got it and they think that it comes naturally. Although this is true in some cases, in most cases they have probably mimicked somebody from a young age who had a deep voice. Once you become conscious that how differently people with deeper voice act in public you should start imitating them, although not to a point where they actually notice as they will think you are mocking them.

The quality of sleep affects how deep your voice is

Sleep is extremely important especially when it comes to the quality of your voice. In order to have a deeper voice you will need to have your vocal cords relaxed, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by getting plenty of sleep. Oftentimes people who are constantly stressed and do not have a good sleeping pattern tend to sound fairly weak or stressed when it comes to their voice. My recommendation is to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and try to stick to a sleeping schedule if possible.

Stress makes your voice sound weak

I know it is hard to avoid stress in today’s world as most people run through life as headless chickens always searching for their next big thing which doesn’t make them happy. People who are under stress have a lot of stress hormones in their body, these hormones directly interfere with the production of testosterone which makes your voice deeper, no matter if you are male or female. If you find yourself running often from one place to another then it is time to stop and take a break, simply relax.

Oftentimes people who are constantly stressed do not even notice its harmful effects as it has become a way of life for them. But if your goal is to get a permanently deeper voice then you will have to break this pattern and focus on stuff that keeps you calm rather than stress you out.

Testosterone makes the voice deep

Testosterone plays a big part in how deep your voice can go, generally speaking, the more testosterone you have the lower your voice is. Diet and exercise play a big part in how much testosterone your body can produce, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle with a bad diet it will be extremely difficult to get a deep voice permanently. However, if you start exercising and focusing on a clean diet your body’s testosterone production should go up in a matter of weeks, and your voice will also get deeper.

Get a vocal coach to learn how to have a deep voice

Vocal coaches can actually teach you how to get a deeper voice, they will identify the problems on which you should focus to get a deeper voice. However not all vocal coaches are know how to actually teach you to get a deeper voice, but the ones which are mostly focused on vocal coaching for actors do have the knowledge to teach you. Do note that vocal coaches are fairly expensive and it can take you months of weekly sessions before you see any improvements.

Do not go to a vocal coach and expect miracles after the first session as they are not miracle doers if you are lucky you could pick up speaking with a deeper voice naturally within a couple of weeks but most often times this is not the case.

Thyroplasty surgery will make your voice deeper permanently

As a last resort if you want to have a permanently deeper voice you can always have a thyroplasty. Thyroplasty surgery lowers the tension between your vocal cords and this way you will have a deeper voice, although the length and strength of your vocal cords will still limit how deep your voice can get. In addition to a thyroplasty, there are several surgeries that focus on lowering your pitch, some of them by lowering the tension between the cords while others by injecting fat or other substance between the vocal cords.

Do note that you will have to see a specialist before the surgery and do not forget that every surgery has its own risks and you might even lose your voice permanently.

Hormones affect how deep your voice is

Hormones dictated how much estrogen and testosterone is produced by our body. These should be in somewhat of a balance, but due to today’s diet of pre-packed foods, we are continuously contaminated with chemicals that affect our hormones. People who have unusually high pitched voices tend to suffer from a hormone imbalance. My recommendation is to check yourself out with a physician before you start any hormone therapy.

In conclusion

Getting a permanent deeper voice might prove to be a fairly difficult challenge for most people. There are so many things you have to keep count of, speaking with a deep voice is not only a skill but it is somewhat a way of life as you will have to exercise, practice and have a good diet which actually favors having a deeper voice.

About Carrie Hensley

Hi, my name is Carrie Hensley I have graduated from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University back in the ྂs. My life long passion was to teach others how to sing, working with my students was like watching a rough pice of coal becoming a shiny diamond. I always wanted to share my knowledge in a way that it will be accessible to everybody and forever. Now that I am retired I can share my knowledge online with my site howtosingbetter101.com

Recent Posts


Voice Anatomy & Physiology

Vocal Folds (also called Vocal Cords)
“Fold-like” soft tissue that is the main vibratory component of the voice box comprised of a cover (epithelium and superficial lamina propria), vocal ligament (intermediate and deep laminae propria), and body (thyroarytenoid muscle)

Glottis (also called Rima Glottides)
Opening between the two vocal folds the glottis opens during breathing and closes during swallowing and sound production

Understanding Voice DisordersKnowing how normal voice is produced and the roles the voice box and its parts play in speaking and singing helps patients understand their voice disorders

Voice “As We Know It”

The “spoken word” results from three components of voice production: voiced sound, resonance, and articulation.

  • Voiced sound: The basic sound produced by vocal fold vibration is called “voiced sound.” This is frequently described as a “buzzy” sound. Voiced sound for singing differs significantly from voiced sound for speech.
  • Resonance: Voice sound is amplified and modified by the vocal tract resonators (the throat, mouth cavity, and nasal passages). The resonators produce a person’s recognizable voice.
  • Articulation: The vocal tract articulators (the tongue, soft palate, and lips) modify the voiced sound. The articulators produce recognizable words.

Speaking and singing involve a voice mechanism that is composed of three subsystems. Each subsystem is composed of different parts of the body and has specific roles in voice production.

Subsystem Voice Organs Role in Sound Production
Air pressure system Diaphragm, chest muscles, ribs, abdominal musclesLungs Provides and regulates air pressure to cause vocal folds to vibrate
Vibratory system Voice box (larynx)Vocal folds Vocal folds vibrate, changing air pressure to sound waves producing “voiced sound,” frequently described as a “buzzy sound”Varies pitch of sound
Resonating system Vocal tract: throat (pharynx), oral cavity, nasal passages Changes the “buzzy sound” into a person’s recognizable voice

Key Function of the Voice Box
The key function of the voice box is to open and close the glottis (the space between the two vocal folds).

  • Role in breathing: Open glottis
  • Role in cough reflex: Close, then open glottis
  • Role in swallowing: Close glottis
  • Role in voice: Close glottis and adjust vocal fold tension (plus additional functions for singing)

Breakdowns can occur in any one or all three subsystems of voice production. This patient education series focuses on voice disorders, specifically breakdowns in the vibratory system.


Why is our voice deeper in the morning? - Biology

Surprisingly, both girls and boys are affected by voice changes during their teenage years.

In girls, the change is hardly noticeable - their voices only go down by a couple of tones. Boys however experience quite a dramatic change in tone. Their voices might drop by as much as a whole octave.

The voice usually begins to deepen shortly after the penis has finished its phase of rapid growth. It is not clear why this change occurs. The males of other species develop deep voices to attract women and to intimidate other men. It is possible the human male voice developed for the same reasons.

See why a boy's voice changes at puberty.
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Sound is made by the mouth as air is pushed out of the lungs, through the voice box. The voice box is a structure at the top of the windpipe that is made of cartilage. Stretched across it are two vocal cords, which are a bit like elastic bands. As air is expelled from the lungs it passes between the vocal cords, making them vibrate. This produces the sound of the voice.

Several changes that occur in teenage boys cause their voices to deepen. The cartilage in the voice box is very sensitive to testosterone. As this cartilage receives testosterone, sent from the testicles, it grows larger and thicker.

At the same time, the vocal cords grow 60% longer and become thicker. Now when they vibrate, they do so at a lower frequency than before. A boy's vocal cords might go from vibrating 200 times per second to just 130 times a second.

While this change takes place, the voice box tilts to a different angle in the neck. It can start to stick out as a prominent 'Adam's Apple'.

Another change also occurs. Boys' faces change quite considerably during puberty because the bones in them are sensitive to testosterone. As the facial bones grow, they create bigger spaces within the face. Larger cavities in the sinuses, nose and back of the throat give the voice more room to resonate in, and this deepens it further.

Watch a boy's face turn into a man's.
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Changes to the voice take place gradually over a period of time. In some boys however, there can be a dramatic period of change. This is described as their voice 'breaking'. Boys at this time can struggle to control their voice and often start to warble or croak. This can be embarrassing, but usually doesn't last very long.


What Determines What Your Voice Sounds Like?

As a marker of singularity, our voices are as effective as our fingerprints. Though people may share a similar pitch or certain vocal characteristics, under close examination, no two voices are alike. Height, weight, hormones, provenance, allergies, structural anomalies, emotions, and environmental factors all play a role in determining how your voice ultimately emerges, which means not only is your voice yours alone, but that you’ll have a few variations on that voice throughout your life.

HE SAYS/SHE SAYS

The first and most obvious vocal determinate is your sex. Anatomically, males have larger vocal folds (aka vocal cords) than females, so, even before hormones surge during adolescence, boys typically have deeper voices than girls. These folds are stretched horizontally across the larynx (the voice box) and, when air is brought up from the lungs to speak, they vibrate. The length, size, and tension of the folds determine what’s known as the fundamental frequency of the resulting sound, which averages about 125 Hz in men, 210 Hz in women, and 300-plus Hz in children. The higher the Hz, or frequency of the sound wave, the higher the pitch. High frequency sounds reach our ears faster, partially explaining why kids’ voices can be so grating.

When we hit puberty, hormones invariably cause the voice to change. During this time the vocal folds lengthen and thicken, causing them to resonate at a lower frequency, which produces a deeper pitch (think of the strings on a guitar). In males, the production of testosterone ramps up, and the larynx increases in size. Men that produce higher levels of testosterone during puberty will usually develop lower voices as they grow into adulthood. Girl’s vocal folds will also grow a bit (about 3 mm compared to 10 mm in boys), but, since they’re not churning out testosterone, their voices remain comparatively high.

Genetics also play a role in how our voices mature. Although how a child’s voice develops owes something to mimicry of their parents, people from the same family will often sound alike because laryngeal anatomy is dictated by your ancestral DNA just like every other physical trait. It’s the slight variations around this anatomy that make our voices distinct.

CHANGING YOUR TUNE

The voice you enter adulthood with is, by and large, the voice you’re stuck with for most of your life. That said, there are several factors that can influence vocal changes, many of which are fleeting, some of which are not. A temporary voice change happens when you catch a cold. Here, the cold virus makes the vocal cords swell, causing them to rub together, which lends a rasp to our speech (the irritation is further aggravated by an urge to clear your throat, which makes the swelling worse).

Our emotional state also affects how we speak. When we’re excited, nervous, or frightened, the muscles buttressing the larynx contract involuntarily, and tension in the vocal cords will increase to produce that high, unsteady pitch we associate with alarm. Though the voice will return to normal once the stimulus passes, people who are generally high-strung will often adopt some variation of this alarmed voice as their natural cadence.

One of the most frequently applied vocal designations is describing someone as “nasally.” A voice that seems birthed as much in your nose as in your throat can be caused by a number of things, which are separated into two categories. Hyponasal speech, the more common of the two, occurs when there’s a lack of airflow through the nose while speaking. Nasal congestion is the primary culprit, as anyone with allergies or chronic sinusitis can attest to, but hyponasality can also stem from a deviated septum or certain adenoidal maladies. Hypernasal speech, on the other hand, results from an influx of air through the nose while speaking, and is especially noticeable when saying words that begin with a consonant. Hypernasality can be caused by a cleft palate or other velopharyngeal insufficiencies, and speech can be majorly impaired in these cases.

Some of the common environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to what your voice sounds like include pollution, an overly dry climate, smoking, drinking alcohol, or shouting/screaming too much. The vocal cords and larynx are like any other muscle in that they can be overused and strained, so, like most things, moderation is key when it comes to taking care of your voice.

The inevitability of aging will lead to a final, permanent voice change for most of us. After a lifetime of speaking, the vocal cords and surrounding tissue lose strength and elasticity, and our mucous membranes become thinner and drier. Known medically as presbyphonia, elderly voice change manifests itself through reduced volume and endurance, noticeable shakiness, and difficulty being heard. Ironically, at this age men’s voices will increase in pitch, while women’s will lower, in a kind of reverse adolescence.


What’s Going On in Your Body When You Lose Your Voice?

Do you ever open your mouth to speak, only to find that all you can do is croak or whisper? You may wonder what’s happening in your body when you lose your voice.

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You may experience hoarseness or lose your voice (get laryngitis) when the tissue covering your vocal cords becomes inflamed or swollen.

In another scenario with long-term, heavy voice use, callus-like growths, known as nodules can form on the vocal cords and cause hoarseness.

When this happens, your vocal cords don’t vibrate as easily. This can show up as vocal fatigue, vocal breaks or cause your voice to sound abnormal.

A symptom with many causes

Losing your voice is a symptom and not a condition itself, says voice care specialist Claudio Milstein, PhD.

“If you have lost your voice, you might find that your voice sounds rough, raspy, tired or feel like it takes a lot of effort to speak,” he says.

Most often, one of these causes is to blame:

  • An upper respiratory infection such as a cold, cough, bronchitis, laryngitis or sinusitis. that cause sinus drainage, throat clearing and laryngitis.
  • A vocally demanding job that requires you to use your voice frequently over the course of several hours, such as teaching or working in a call center.
  • Talking loudly, yelling or cheering, such as at a sporting event.

If you can trace your voice problems back to one of these sources, then losing your voice once in awhile likely isn’t serious, Dr. Milstein says. If you rely on your voice in your job, you may find that it happens more often for you and may be more of a problem if you rely on your voice daily.

But, occasionally, losing your voice might signal that precancerous or cancerous cells are forming. So you shouldn’t ignore a problem that persists beyond two to four weeks.

How long should you wait it out?

Hoarseness is more likely to happen during an upper respiratory illness. You’re coughing, clearing your throat a lot and your voice may start to sound croaky or weak. This can linger from a few days to a few weeks, or even longer in some cases, Dr. Milstein says.

How long should you wait to see if it will go away on its own? It depends.

“If you rely on your voice for your job, make plans to see your doctor if your voice isn’t better in two weeks,” he says.

Risk factors such as a history of smoking, a history of cancer or other health concerns should prompt an evaluation for hoarseness that lingers beyond two to four weeks.

Here’s what to do in the meantime

While there is no quick fix to help get your voice back, Dr. Milstein offers these tips to soothe inflamed vocal cords:

  1. Rest. Aim to rest your voice as much as possible. Talk quietly and only talk half as much as you ordinarily would, or less if possible.
  2. Seek out quiet. Avoid loud environments. They can often force you to talk more loudly (or with greater effort) than usual.
  3. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Avoid dehydrating beverages, such as alcohol and those that contain caffeine.
  4. Use a humidifier. This will help keep the air you breathe moist, which can help soothe inflamed vocal cords.
  5. Medicate. Try an over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. This can help ease discomfort and vocal cord inflammation.

If your hoarseness persists for longer than two weeks to a month, talk with your doctor. He or she may suggest a laryngoscopy, a procedure that will offer a better view of your larynx.

“Our ability to better visualize your larynx can help us more quickly diagnose something that might need surgical management or medication,” Dr. Milstein says.

Some experts recommend visualization of the vocal cords before beginning prescription medications, such as anti-reflux medications, steroids or antibiotics.

The bottom line? Most of the time your laryngitis will resolve itself in a week or two, with no lasting effects. But if the problem lingers on toward a month, it’s a good idea to get checked by a otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat) doctor to make sure there isn’t something serious at work.

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Is It Better To Drink Coffee In The Morning Or Afternoon For Work?

Those who rely on coffee to stay alert at work are very familiar with its benefits. Coffee stimulates the body’s nervous system, helping us to concentrate better and quicken reaction times.

Of course, there are downsides, too. Those who consume a lot of caffeine may also experience negative side effects, including rambling flow of thought and speech, muscle twitches, nausea, anxiety and insomnia.

But we do know that feeling alert after a cup of coffee can last up to six hours, on average. That’s why timing matters, too. So when is the best time of day to drink coffee if you want the best possible boost at work? Here’s what researchers and nutritionists say:

Your ideal timing may be influenced by your age.

For tired young adults, a morning coffee may help boost performance. One study published in 2016 involved college students who were regular coffee drinkers. Researchers tested them on memory exams at 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., and found that those who were given a coffee drink before their morning exams showed improved performance. Those who were given coffee before the afternoon tests did not.

“The best advice I give to my patients is try out what is best for you.”

But don’t write off the benefits of afternoon coffee. Older adults tend to experience a decline in memory performance from morning to afternoon, but a 2002 study in people over 65 found that a single cup of coffee, ingested 30 minutes before a test, completely erased this decline.

. but it also depends on your body’s particular biology.

The caffeine in coffee goes into effect shortly after consumption, so consider when you need to be most “awake” before you have a cup.

“If you are someone who has average tolerance to caffeine, then after having coffee, whether it’s in the morning or afternoon, you should feel more alert and focused for the next one to six hours,” said Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health. “You can be strategic about when you have your caffeine depending on when you need to feel most alert throughout the day.“

How coffee ultimately makes you feel while working depends on your personal biology.

“What we’re learning is every cell of our body has its own biological clock. If you use caffeine. to wake your brain up, it doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of your body is on the same time zone. You may be up, but you may feel sluggish,” said Zhaoping Li, a professor of medicine and chief of the division of clinical nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles. “How our body responds to food, nutrients, including caffeine, it is highly variable. Each individual may have their own sweet spot.”

Li said there is not conclusive research on whether a morning or afternoon coffee is best for all professionals. “We try to treat everyone the same in a sense, but that’s not the case,” she said, noting that age, ethnicity and culture can all affect which time of day is best for you to drink coffee for your job performance.

“That makes it very confusing for consumers, so the best advice I give to my patients is try out what is best for you,” she said.

To do this, Li suggests drinking coffee at different hours of the workday and seeing how you feel. If you don’t feel anything at all, she said, then you may have to try other times or timing it differently with any medications you may be taking.

But if you feel heart palpitations, insomnia or jittery anxiety, or you are particularly sensitive to caffeine or don’t plan to pull an overnighter, then make sure not to drink coffee too late in the workday.

“As a rule of thumb, the closer to consumption, the more alert and focused you will feel,” Samuels said. “People who are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine should limit their consumption to the mornings to prevent sleep disturbances, anxiety, rapid heart rate and other symptoms of having too much caffeine.”