What Causes Snoring? Noisy Breathing During Sleep or Something More Serious? Exploring the Underlying Reasons for Snoring

Contents hide Beyond a Nuisance Self-Treatment Snoring Symptoms Obstructive Sleep Apnea Seeing a Doctor Causes Risk Factors Complications Noisy Breathing Quick Snoring Facts Snoring Basics Apnea Remedies Avoiding Sedating Medications and Alcohol Easing Nasal Obstruction …

You might be among the significant percentage of adults who snore occasionally and if not, you probably know a person who does. They may be the subject of jokes during family gatherings and events but snoring can actually be a serious issue.

Snoring spouses, for example, usually keep the other individual from enjoying a good, wholesome night of sleep, which can lead to sleeping in separate bedrooms eventually. Snoring has the potential to create major problems within a marriage.

Beyond a Nuisance

Aside from snoring being a nuisance, most of the people who snore are susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea. This is a condition that is characterized by breathing being disrupted for short periods of time during sleep and heightens the risk of heart disease.


It is advisable to exercise caution when treating yourself with over the counter pills or sprays until you have consulted a sleep expert or your doctor. Many aids that are designed to stop or prevent snoring are promoted without their claims being backed up by scientific studies. There are various lifestyle changes and natural solutions that can be implemented to help you minimize or stop snoring. These include changing your sleep position.


Snoring refers to the abrasive, harsh or hoarse sound that happens as air is flowing past the relaxed tissues within the throat. This results in the tissues vibrating while you sleep. Virtually everyone snores from time to time but it can be a chronic issue for some people. There are times when it may be an indication of a serious health problem.

Additionally, snoring can bother your partner. Lifestyle changes like sleeping on the side, avoiding alcohol at bedtime and losing weight can help to stop snoring. Additionally, surgical procedures and medical devices are available to reduce snoring that is considered to be disruptive or obstructive. However, these may not be necessary or suitable for everyone who has a snoring issue.


Snoring is usually linked to a sleeping disorder that is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It is important to note that some snorers do not have OSA or obstructive snoring apnea. However, if any of the following symptoms accompany snoring, you may need to see a doctor or sleep expert for further evaluation:

  • Poor performance at school behavioral issues or poor attention span in children.
  • Loud snoring that disrupts your partner’s sleep.
  • Chest pain during the night.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Choking or gasping at night.
  • Restless sleep.
  • Sore throat when waking up.
  • Morning headaches.
  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating.
  • Excessive sleepiness during the daytime.
  • Witnessing breathing pauses while sleeping.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea usually features loud snoring that is followed by silence when breathing nearly stops or stops. This pause or reduction may eventually cause you to wake up and awakening may be accompanied by a gasping sound or loud snort.

You might sleep lightly because of disrupted sleep. The pattern of pauses or reduced breathing may be repeated several times during the night. People who have obstructive sleep apnea often experience periods when breathing stops or slows a number of times during each hour of sleep.

Seeing a Doctor

It is important to see a doctor if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms. They may indicate that your snoring is linked to OSA or obstructive sleep apnea. Consult your pediatrician if your child snores since children can also have OSA. Throat and nose problems like enlarged tonsils as well as obesity can cause your child’s airway to become narrow and lead to the development of OSA.


A number of factors can lead to snoring like your weight, cold, allergies, alcohol consumption and the anatomy of your sinuses and mouth. When dozing off and transitioning from light to deep sleep, the muscles that are located within the roof of the mouth or soft palate, throat, and tongue relax.

Tissues in the throat are able to relax enough to block your airway partially and vibrate. Airflow becomes more forceful when the airway is narrower and this leads to an increase in tissue vibration and causes louder snoring.

The following factors can have an impact on the airway and lead to snoring.

  • Sleep position- Snoring is usually loudest and most frequent when a person is sleeping on the back due to the effect of gravity on the throat that further narrows the airway.
  • Sleep deprivation- Lack of enough sleep may lead to the throat relaxing further.
  • Nasal issues- A deviated nasal septum or chronic nasal congestion can contribute to snoring.
  • Alcohol consumption- Snoring may result from excessive consumption of alcohol before bedtime. This is because alcohol causes the throat muscles to relax while decreasing your natural defenses against obstructing the airway.
  • Anatomy of the mouth- A thick, low soft palate may narrow the airway. Extra tissues at the back of the throat may narrow the airway in people who are overweight. Similarly, if the piece of tissue that hangs from the uvula or soft palate is elongated, there may be an obstruction of airflow and increase in vibration.

Risk Factors

Risk factors that contribute to snoring may include the following:

  • Family history of obstructive sleep apnea or snoring.
  • Nasal problems- Structural defects in the airway like a chronically congested nose or deviated septum increase the risk of snoring.
  • Drinking alcohol- Consuming alcohol relaxes the muscles of the throat and increases the risk of snoring.
  • Narrow airway- Some people have large adenoids or tonsils or a long soft palate that narrows the airway and causes snoring.
  • Being overweight- Individuals who are obese or overweight are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea or snore.
  • Being male- Men are typically more like to have sleep apnea or snore than women are.


Snoring habitually may be much more than a nuisance. Along with disrupting someone else’s sleep, snoring that is linked to OSA may place you at a higher risk for certain complications, which include:

  • Increased risk of road accidents because of sleep deprivation or lack of sleep.
  • Increased risk of behavioral problems like learning problems or aggression in children who have OSA.
  • Higher risk of stroke, heart conditions and high blood pressure.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Frequent anger or frustration.
  • Daytime Sleepiness.

Noisy Breathing

Snoring can be described as the noisy breathing that occurs when sleeping and as a result of tissue vibrating within the upper airway. This is a common problem that can affect many people at some point in their lives. It is usually harmless and can be relieved through a variety of home remedies.

Treatment may be available if these remedies do not work. Snoring may be associated with a more serious health condition. When snoring becomes disruptive or other symptoms arise, it is important to see a health professional.

Quick Snoring Facts

  • Snoring is common and treatable.
  • Snoring occurs when there is a turbulent flow of air through the uvula that causes the soft palate and uvula to vibrate.
  • It may be linked to sleep apnea that is a symptom of conditions such as high blood pressure.
  • Men usually snore more often than women do.
  • Some exercises and home remedies can help to prevent snoring.

Snoring Basics

When people are awake, tissues in the upper airway and throat are open to ease the intake of air into the lungs. During sleep, the tongue and soft tissues relax and can block the airway partially. If the air coming in and out encounters sufficient resistance, snoring or vibration can occur.

Frequent nasal congestion, drinking alcohol, smoking or obesity can all heighten the risk of snoring habitually. Snoring is considered to affect a higher percentage of males than females who are between 30 and 60 years old.

Snoring may an indication of medical conditions like:

  • Nasal or sinus problems.
  • Obesity.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring has been associated with thickening of the carotid arteries wall, which transports blood to the brain and can lead to a greater risk of stroke.


Sleep apnea can lead to a type of snoring that is characterized by the person appearing to cease breathing for a period of time between snores and gasping or choking sounds may be produced. Aside from loud snoring, the following symptoms can arise from sleep apnea:

  • Low sex drive or libido.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty remembering things or concentrating.
  • Morning headaches.
  • Insomnia.
  • Daytime Sleepiness.

Any person who experiences these types of symptoms is advised to see a doctor because sleep apnea may be a symptom of another condition like acromegaly, hypothyroidism and high blood pressure.

Sleep apnea and snoring also increase the possibility of sleep being disrupted. This can cause difficulty concentrating and fatigue. It can also lead to a higher risk of certain mental health challenges.

A dental or medical provider may have the ability to help to determine the cause and suitable interventions that can stop the snoring.


Various remedies can help with snoring.

Avoiding Sedating Medications and Alcohol  

Drugs that are derived from the sedative or depressant class are aimed at relaxing the muscles, which causes them to collapse. Alcohol works as a depressant. It is important to avoid it for a few hours before sleeping. Over the counter or prescription sleep aids should ideally be taken under the guidance of a doctor.

Easing Nasal Obstruction

Medicines and various methods are available to help minimize inflammation. These include room humidifiers, antihistamines, moisturizing and corticosteroid nasal sprays and nasal strips. Items such as room humidifiers can be bought online.

Adjusting Sleep Positions

Sleeping position has an impact on the possibility of snoring. Sleeping on the back can lead to the relaxed tongue blocking the airway. Alternative sleeping positions that you can try include:

  • Anti-snore pillows that work by improving the position of the neck.
  • Raising the headboard of the bed by a few inches.
  • Sleeping on your side.
  • Placing a soft object inside the back of your shirt can help to prevent you from rolling over to your back.
  • Specially designed pillows are available online.

Weight Loss

Fat tissue can narrow and surround the airway in an individual who is overweight and the obstructed flow can cause snoring. Losing weight is an effective way to minimize the risk of snoring.


Customized oral appliances that are similar to mouth guards or retainers move the jaw and tongue slightly forward to keep the airway opened. Specially trained dentists usually design and make these types of appliances.


Throat exercises can be useful for strengthening flabby, weak throat muscles and preventing them from collapsing while you sleep. To see any worthwhile results, these exercises should be carried out consistently.

Quitting Smoking

As an irritant, tobacco smoke can lead to tissue inflammation. Since the passage of the upper airway is narrow, any amount of inflammation can disrupt airflow. Quitting smoking may minimize inflammation along with the risk of other conditions and diseases.

Improving Sleep Hygiene

Sleeping consistently on a comfortable bed in a cool, dark room can help you develop a better sleep hygiene program. Lack of sufficient sleep has been associated with weight gain and can cause snoring. Other tips for guaranteeing a good night of sleep and rest include:

  • Avoiding using a mobile device or screen close to bedtime and keeping electronic devices outside the room.
  • Using heavy curtains or blinds to keep the light out.
  • Following a similar routine for waking up and gong to sleep, even during the weekend.

Medical Intervention

If snoring is associated with sleep apnea or severe, a doctor may provide treatment. For individuals who have moderate to severe sleep apnea, treatment may involve delivering pressurized air via a face or nasal mask.


Medical attention may be beneficial for severe snoring. If other remedies are not effective, there are numerous surgical procedures that are performed to reduce snoring. These include the removal or enlarged adenoids and tonsils.

  • Plastic implants can be inserted inside the soft palate for the purpose of stiffening the loose tissue.
  • Septoplasty works by repairing a deviated septum.
  • Excess tissue can be removed from the uvula and soft palate.
  • Lasers can be used to shorten the soft hanging tissue at the back of the throat or uvula. The small cuts that the laser makes in the soft palate heal gradually as the surrounding tissues become stiff to halt the vibrations that cause snoring.
  • Surgery is generally regarded as a last resort due to the success rate and potential health risks.

Snoring may be a sign of a major health problem but it can also be disruptive and embarrassing to the person, the sleep partner as well as other people within the household. Looking for treatment may be the right step towards overall good health and wellbeing.

Occasional and Habitual Snoring

Snoring is a relatively common condition that can afflict anyone but it happens more frequently in men and overweight people. Snoring tends to worsen with age. What causes snoring occasionally may not be serious and is mainly a nuisance for your sleep partner.

On the other hand, a habitual snorer not only disrupts the sleep of anyone who is close to you, but it also diminishes your own quality of sleep. Medical assistance may be necessary for frequent snorers as well as their loved ones to facilitate a good night’s sleep.

When Snoring is Chronic

  • During sleep, snoring is loud breathing that sounds like unsettling sawing, vibrating or banging. When snoring is chronic, it occurs most nights whether or not you are suffering from symptoms or allergies or are sick. Loud snoring can be unbearable with prolonged exposure.
  • Aside from being troublesome or embarrassing, snoring can be a serious health risk. Snoring chronically is linked to a higher incidence of stroke, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Snoring regularly can lead to a higher risk of driving when drowsy, reducing daytime performance and daytime fatigue. Even chronic snorers who have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea have an increased incidence of daytime sleepiness.

Individuals who snore frequently are not usually aware that they have the condition. There are a number of symptoms that provide clues of snoring at night:

  • Coughing, gasping or becoming breathless during the night.
  • Suddenly waking up at night.
  • Dental cavities or decay.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Waking up with a headache.

Mechanism of Snoring

Snoring happens when nasal breathing is restricted or the upper airway narrows. The muscles and soft tissue of the person’s throat relax, which reduces the airway’s diameter. This reduction produces noise when breath is entering or exiting the airway, comparable to the air that flows through a whistle.

Things that relax or enlarge the soft tissues of the mouth or throat can result in snoring. This is the reason why snoring often happens after taking particular sedating medications or drinking alcohol. The following factors may heighten the risk of snoring:

  • Sleeping on your back.
  • Drinking alcohol before bed.
  • Side effects of certain medications.
  • Nasal deformity such as a deviated septum.
  • Large uvula or soft palate.
  • Swollen tonsils or adenoids.
  • Nasal congestion from allergies or illness.
  • Age.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Obesity.

Sleep Apnea vs. Snoring

Although the terms are mixed up or used interchangeably sometimes, sleep apnea and snoring are not actually the same thing. Central and obstructive sleep apneas are conditions that feature temporary interruptions of breathing during sleep. Breathing pauses can reduce levels of blood oxygen and enable the buildup of carbon dioxide in the body.

Snoring, by contrast, does not consist of apneas or interrupted breathing during sleep. However, snoring chronically is a warning indication of sleep apnea. A large percentage of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea as well. If you snore and observe any of the following warning signs, it is advisable to seek treatment.

  • Unexplained weight gain.
  • Memory or mood problems, headaches and excessive sleepiness during the day.
  • Snoring that is accompanied by gasping, pauses or snorting that wakes you up at night or stops your breathing.

Is Snoring Rare?

Many men and women are actually regular snorers, including more than 40% of men and at least 30% of women. Virtually everyone can snore but particular physical attributes increase the likelihood of snoring. Snoring is common in men and excess body weight heightens the risk of snoring. The possibility of snoring also increases with age.

  • One third of women are likely to snore when they are pregnant due to swelling of nasal passages, increased level of pressure on the diaphragm, hormone fluctuations and increased body weight.
  • Young children also snore and newborns and babies snore because of their tiny nasal passages but this tends to be outgrown. Like with sleep apnea in childhood, chronic snoring at this stage of life is linked to poor school performance and adverse cognitive effects.
  • Certain defects that affect the structure of the nasal passages, throat or nose or the facial features can increase the likelihood of snoring. For instance, larger tonsils and tongues, smaller nasal passages, narrower throats and smaller jaws increase the risk of snoring.
  • Sleeping on your back causes the tongue to relax in the upper way and increases the snoring risk. People who snore usually experience relief when they opt to sleep on the side.

Behavioral Changes

Snoring can annoy your bedmate and damage your health. The good news is that treatments are available for chronic or frequent snoring. Many treatments are natural, simple fixes that you can try at home. Convincing someone who snores that they require intervention may be the biggest challenge.

Affordable, natural treatment for snoring often starts with behavioral therapies or interventions. Snorers can completely get rid of or alleviate the symptoms by a implementing a few lifestyle changes like:

  • Exercises that improve muscle tone within the neck.
  • Avoiding stimulants, antihistamines and sedatives before bed.
  • Avoiding alcohol before bedtime.
  • Sleeping on the side rather than the back.
  • Weight loss, including minor weight loss that can minimize snoring.

Anti-Snoring Aids

If lifestyle changes do not ease the symptoms of snoring, you can invest in a variety of anti-snoring devices and products.

  • Specialized pillows can accomplish the task of tilting the body off the back effectively. The pillows work by aligning the throat, neck and jaw to keep airways open. A side sleeping position can be maintained by using a special body pillow.
  • Special clothing accessories and sleepwear are designed to promote side sleeping.
  • Other forms of anti-snoring therapy emphasize on the airways and nasal passages. Nasal strips can be externally placed on the bridge of the nose to flatten it and improve nasal airflow by opening the nostrils and nasal passages. They also offer a drug-free and affordable way to prevent snoring whole pregnant.
  • Decongestants can be helpful if nasal congestion leads to swelling and inflammation that restricts normal airflow.
  • Nose vents work by maximizing the flow of air through nasal passages. They are usually made from silicone and are available in a variety of sizes.
  • For a snorer who has allergies, an air purifier can minimize the dust mites, allergens and particles that may cause nasal congestion in your house.


Research shows that combining domperidone and pseudoephedrine can help apnea and snoring.

Coping with a Snorer

One of the major aspects of snoring is the individual who shares the bedroom or bed with a person who snores. Although the snorer may be able to continue sleeping, partners are often disrupted as they attempt to fall asleep or may wake up in the middle of the night due to loud snoring.

  • As the partner of a person who has a snoring problem, the most essential thing you can do is start communicating about it in a sensitive and honest manner. Your partner should know that their snoring affects you. However, since many people are not aware of how disruptive their snoring is, they may feel criticized or take offence when you raise the issue.
  • There are various steps that can be taken to reduce snoring and if your sleep is regularly diminished, your partner needs to let their doctor know.
  • If your sleeping partner or bedmate is a loud snorer, you can advise them to see a sleep specialist or to invest in the products that have been mentioned. However, it is important to note that even with treatment, snoring may not go away completely. Rather than getting mad or frustrated, focus on getting back to sleep.

When snoring cannot be entirely eliminated by surgery, products or behavior change, you can consider another approach to seeking relief.

Smartphone Apps

Consider investing in a smartphone app or white noise machinery. The machines offer a static, white noise background that effectively drowns out other noises. Smartphone apps that provide a similar functionality have become popular because they do not require extra space and usually consist of other sound libraries like ambient music and sounds of nature.


You can use earplugs to reduce noise. They are available in various sizes and everyone can find one that will fit comfortably in their ears.


Think about getting a bigger mattress. Your wallets and intimacy will feel the negative impact of sleeping in separate bedrooms or beds. The cheaper alternative is to invest in a bigger mattress that still enables you to maintain the physical closeness of a couple. Additionally, a comfortable mattress makes it much easier for both of you to fall asleep.

Different Bedtimes

Make an attempt to slightly stagger your bedtimes in order for the non-snorer to sleep earlier than the snorer. Being asleep before your partner starts snoring may reduce the likelihood of waking up.

Relaxation Exercises

Try relaxation exercises and meditation. Insomniacs usually depend on breathing techniques, relaxation exercises and meditation to help them sleep at night. These can also help you go back to sleep after being woke up by your partner’s snoring, help you remain calm and fall asleep even when your partner is snoring.

Health Implications of Regular Snoring

Snoring is a common phenomenon among adults around the world. Millions of people and many of them snore on a regular basis.

  • Although everyone knows what snoring is when they hear it, many may not be aware of the in-depth details regarding why and how it happens along with the potential effects and how the situation can be dealt with. Covering these details is essential for helping people who have a snoring problem as well as the people who share bedrooms or beds with them.
  • In many cases, snoring is not a serious health problem. Generally, the main health risk that is related to snoring is people who snore due to sleep apnea. However, even in individuals who do not have apneas, regular snoring can be an issue.
  • Snoring can be a nuisance to snorers and their partners. Some studies have also shown that people who snore struggle to get a restful night of sleep. This might contribute to being less alert and feeling sleepier during the day.

Final Considerations

Anyone can snore occasionally and everyone has heard someone snore, whether it is a stranger next to you on the plane, a parent or a partner. Noisy breathing or snoring during sleep can manifest in several different sounds and styles but regardless of what its forms are, it is often disruptive and a potential problem for both the sleeper and other people around them who want to sleep. This is particularly true for habitual snoring that represents persistent and ongoing snoring.

  • Snoring is basically caused by the narrowing of the throat’s airway. It occurs as the air is forced through this passage and vibrates the soft tissue within the throat. Narrowing of the airway can result from a number of reasons. Snoring mainly happens during sleep because the soft tissue and muscles located next to the airway relax. This leaves less room for movement of air.
  • Several different things increase the likelihood of this occurrence and are referred to as risk factors. Well-known risk factors include sleeping on your back, sedative medications, alcohol consumption, being pregnant, large or swollen mouth anatomy, nasal deformity, nasal congestion, being older and being overweight.
  • While reflecting on this list of risk factors, it is important to remember that a risk factor for habitual snoring does not automatically mean you will suffer from this type of problem. It only means you have a higher probability of having issues with habitual snoring.

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