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What Snoring Says About Your Health

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.

Being overweight

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.


Weak muscles

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
  • Alcohol
  • Sleeping pills
  • Aging
  • Sleep apnea

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.

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

Filed under: Mind & Body


Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

WellTuned provides inspiration and practical advice for healthy living.
WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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