What Causes Snoring (7 Common Reasons Why People Snore)

By: SleepScore Labs  |  March 21st, 2018

Snoring is one of the most common causes of poor sleep. Severe snoring may disturb your breathing at night, which might cause you to wake up frequently and unexpectedly.  

Snoring is more common in men than women. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women snore regularly. Snoring can occur at any age. But because snoring can worsen with age, seniors often suffer the most. Let’s dive into the main causes of snoring, plus some potential solutions to curb snores for better sleep. 

What Causes Snoring? 

Snoring is mainly caused by loose tissue or partially blocked airway, making your breathing forceful and causes you to snore as you breathe. 

Your airway may be partially blocked due to the following reasons:  

  • Relaxed muscle tissue has blocked the airway.  
  • Inflammation has caused the tissue to block the airway. 
  • Abnormal growth or injury within the airway has caused interference in your airway.   

Want to have more in-depth knowledge about snoring? Check out our resources for more snoring facts. Continue reading to learn more about what causes snoring, when to reach out to a doctor, and how you can stop snoring.  

Mouth Anatomy  

Snoring can be the result of a physical feature, such as the anatomy of your mouth. The size, shape, and position of your jaw, tongue, throat, and neck can also contribute to snoring. A doctor can determine if any of these could be contributing to your snoring problem.  

Alcohol Consumption  

There’s a strong connection between alcohol and snoring. Alcohol consumption can either cause the problem or lead to snoring louder. Alcohol has a muscle-relaxing effect. Meaning, it may also relax the jaw and throat muscles (particularly the epiglottis), which blocks the airway and results in snoring and disturbed sleep.  

Nasal Problems  

Nasal congestion makes it difficult or impossible to breathe through your nose. While this is usually only a cause of snoring while you’re battling a cold or the flu, some people suffer from regular nasal congestion and may become habitual snorers even after the cold or flu goes away.  

Sleep Position  

Sleeping in a poor position may cause neck and back pain. Also, putting too much pressure on specific body parts at night might lead to chronic pain and even catalyst snoring. It’s worth learning more about each sleep position to find out the ideal position for you.  

Weight Gain  

Obesity and weight gain may lead to snoring. Your throat tissue may be bulky, which may disrupt proper breathing.  

Pregnancy  

Pregnant women are more likely to snore, too. A study carried out on 1673 pregnant women during their first trimester found that 35% of them were habitual snorers. Similarly, according to the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association, 23% of pregnant women snore.  

The tendency of women to snore during pregnancy may be due to weight gain, a sign of sleep apnea, water retention, and hormone imbalance.  

Sleep Apnea  

Many people suffer from sleep apnea without realizing it. Sleep apnea goes undetected and undiagnosed in up to 80% of the population.  

Some apnea symptoms include morning headaches, insomnia, low mood, restless sleep, night sweats, insomnia, weight gain, lack of energy, difficulty breathing when sleeping, and, of course, snoring regularly. In fact, snoring is the most prominent symptom of sleep apnea.  

If you or your partner think you are experiencing sleep apnea, consult your physician or healthcare provider immediately.  

Snoring and Sleep Apnea: Snoring May Be a Symptom of Sleep Apnea, But Not All Snorers Have Sleep Apnea 

Despite popular belief, snoring and sleep apnea are not the same condition. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which an individual’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted while sleeping. Most people who experience sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  However, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea are the other two types of sleep apnea a person may have.  

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the muscles in the throat relaxing and obstructing the airway—hence its name. The other type of sleep apnea—central sleep apnea—occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the muscles that control breathing, causing breathing to start and stop in random intervals. At the same time, complex sleep apnea happens when a person has both obstructive sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea.  

That said, snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea—more so for people with OSA. If you have any reason to believe that your snoring is caused by sleep apnea, seek treatment as soon as possible.  

It’s also important to note that obstructive sleep apnea, not just snoring alone, can adversely affect your health by increasing your chances of high blood pressure, stroke, and depression.   

How You Can Stop Snoring: Snoring Treatments 

Before looking into potential remedies for snoring, remember to first speak to your doctor or see a sleep specialist if you’re worried that you might have undiagnosed sleep apnea or another sleep disorder that is causing your snoring.  

Sleep on Your Side   

Instead of sleeping on your back, try sleeping on your side to alleviate snoring.  

If you have a habit of sleeping on your back and find it hard to break, try putting pillows around your body to help prevent unconscious turning-over in your sleep. It may take some getting used to, but once you adjust, you can enjoy a much more peaceful sleep and may not need the help of pillows to maintain the correct sleep position.   

Use a Humidifier   

Another tool that may help stop your snoring is a humidifier. Humidifiers are machines that increase the amount of moisture in the air for a more balanced indoor environment.  

A humidifier is beneficial when your snoring is caused by congestion or dryness in the air. To combat this problem, try sleeping with a humidifier.  

More Solutions to Help with Snoring  

You can also look into devices that may help you manage your snoring, breathe more freely, and have a full night of quality sleep.  

For example, snore strips are elastic bands that stay on your cheeks and work by expanding your airway so you can breathe without any obstruction and sleep soundly. Another great anti-snore product is the Snore Rx Mouthpiece Snoring Appliance. This mandibular advancement device moves the lower jaw slightly forward to clear the airway and reduce the vibrations that may lead to snoring.  

For those who snore with their mouths open, the SomniFix Mouth Strips may support unrestricted breathing through the nose so you don’t have to use your mouth.  

Get Your 7-9 Hours of Sleep 

Healthy sleep is a non-negotiable part of your overall health and wellness. Lengthy sleep duration is a key characteristic for healthy sleep. But if you’re like most people, you’re probably running on minimal sleep hours. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get approximately 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.  

If you’re not getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep, you may need to make some adjustments to your sleep routine. Check out the SleepScore app for an in-depth analysis of your nightly sleep quality.  

Prioritize Weight Management  

If you recently started snoring out of the blue, it may be due to weight gain. Revisiting your fitness routine, diet regimen, stress management plans, and daily habits to manage weight may help resolve this issue. For some, more significant weight loss may be necessary to stop snoring altogether.  

Try to consult your doctor for a more personalized and comprehensive weight management plan that’ll help you maintain a healthy weight while solving your snoring issue.  

Reduce Alcohol Consumption and Smoking  

Consuming alcohol and smoking may also increase your chances of being a habitual snorer because alcohol intake and smoking can relax your muscles.  

Since alcohol consumption can contribute to snoring, it’s best to avoid it when you can—or at the very least, limit drinking when able. Habitual alcohol drinkers tend to not get the sleep they need.  

Similarly, you can prevent smoking-related snoring by kicking the habit altogether. If you’re a smoker and want to quit, you can, and for good too, with expert help who may create a customized quitting plan for you. Research shows that in 2018, 61.7% of people who had ever smoked quit.  

Quitting smoking may also lower your risk of other more complicated health issues that may also affect your sleep like diabetes, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke, heart diseases, and lung diseases. 

When to See a Doctor 

There are instances where you may need to consult a healthcare professional to investigate your particular case and recommend treatment options for your snoring if required. 

One instance is if your snoring happens nearly every night or is severely disrupting your sleep, you should consult with your doctor. They may advise you to try mouth guards for snoring, surgery to correct an abnormality in the anatomy of your mouth or nasal passage or other treatments for an undiagnosed sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea using a machine known as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).   

Snoring happens to most people at one point or the other whether or not they have an underlying health condition. Many times, it may just disrupt your sleep quality and efficiency. However, try not to dismiss it as a trivial issue.   

Before resigning to living as a habitual snorer, try to adopt the ways highlighted above to help you manage your snoring. If you try any of those strategies and seem not to stop it, you should seek professional medical help.  


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