Snoring is natural — many people experience it from time to time. But why do we snore?
Here’s what you need to know about snoring and your health.
What is snoring?
Snoring is a sound made by vibrations in your airway. When you sleep, your muscles relax, including those in your tongue, neck, and chest. That relaxation can decrease the size of your airway, limiting airflow through your nose and mouth. If the airway is too small, a sound comes out.
50% of people snore occasionally
What causes snoring?
Snoring itself is not an illness — it is simply a symptom of something else. Here are the most common causes:
Allergies or sinus problems
Sinus infections and allergies cause inflammation, which obstructs the airways in your nose. Snoring associated with these problems typically clears up when the infection does.
Smoking can inflame the airways and cause swelling in a similar way, which leads to snoring.
Excess fat around the neck makes it harder to breathe while sleeping.
Irregularities or growths
Polyps, growths or deformities can cause snoring. One of the most common conditions is a deviated septum, when the wall between your nostrils is off-center or crooked. Surgery may be required to fix these issues.
You may also snore if certain areas of your tongue are too long or are enlarged. Causes include:
- A long soft palate (the back of the roof of your mouth)
- A long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of your mouth)
- Large tonsils
- Large adenoids
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are most common in children.
Everyone’s muscles relax while they sleep, but if your tongue and throat relax too much, they may collapse and fall back into your airway. This happens most often from:
- Deep sleep
- Sleeping pills
- Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder in which your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. Treatment often includes using a device or mouthpiece to keep your airway open. You should consult your doctor about if you:
- Are extremely sleepy during the day
- Snore loud enough to wake yourself or others
- Wake up gasping or choking
- Notice yourself losing your breath as you sleep, or if your partner notices
Is snoring dangerous?
Not for most people. It can become dangerous if you suffer from sleep apnea, if you aren’t getting enough sleep to function properly, or if your sleep patterns put a strain on your heart.
Do kids snore?
About 20% of children snore occasionally and 7-10% snore every night. Only 1% have sleep apnea.
How do you stop snoring?
Snoring is a symptom, so if you stop the problem, you may stop the snoring.
Here are some remedies to try:
- Use strips that gently lift and open nasal passages
- Sleep in a different position, such as slightly propped up instead of flat on your back
- Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
- Treat sinus or allergy issues
- Stop smoking
- If your case is extreme, see a doctor
To learn more about sleep including how to get more of it, click here.