What Are the Causes of Snoring?
by Dr. Scott Bolding
Even though it can be a bit embarrassing, most people snore every now and then. In fact, 45% of adults snore occasionally.
Most of the time snoring isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, people who snore loudly and frequently know how frustrating it can be. Other people in your family keep making fun of you, your partner kicks you out to the couch, and you know you’re not getting the sleep you need. Snoring can also indicate more serious medical issues.
All you want to do is figure out how to stop snoring. But, you need to know what causes snoring in the first place. Knowing why people snore can help you figure out whether your snoring is serious or not. And that makes it easier for you to find the right treatment, so you and your loved ones can get back to sleep.
How Does Snoring Happen?To understand the causes of snoring it will be helpful to understand how snoring happens in the first place. Snoring happens when air has a hard time flowing through your mouth or nose while you sleep. When you fall asleep the muscles in your airway start to relax. This is a completely normal part of sleep. But sometimes these muscles can relax too much. Or you have extra tissue on some part of the airway. So as you fall asleep there’s not much room for air to pass through. Instead of flowing easily through your mouth or nose it’s forced, causing the surrounding tissue to vibrate. This vibration causes snoring sounds.
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What Are the Causes of Snoring?
There are a number of different ways your airway can become blocked while you sleep. The main causes of snoring are nasal congestion and problems with your airway. Certain medical conditions are also risk factors for snoring.
Nasal congestion is one the most common causes of snoring. And most of the time it’s the easiest to deal with. Nasal congestion is caused by something irritating or inflaming your nasal tissues. This can come in the form of an infection like a cold or the flu. Allergies can also cause nasal congestion.
The inflamed nasal passages block air from getting through. It can make it hard to breathe when you’re awake but it’s even worse when you sleep. Your relaxed muscles combined with the inflamed airway make it hard for air to get through. And that causes snoring.
Problems with Your Airway
Issues with your airway can also cause snoring. The whole reason snoring happens is that there’s not enough room in your airway.
One of the causes of snoring is a deviated septum. This common problem happens when the wall between your nasal passages is too far over to one side of your nose. It makes one side of your nose smaller than the other. When you sleep air has a hard time passing through the smaller nasal passage. The air vibrates as it’s forced through your nose.
Another cause of snoring is having too much tissue in different parts of the airway. You can have excess tissue on your:
- Soft palate
If there is too much tissue on any of these they can vibrate as air passes through.
Risk Factors for Snoring
Some are risk factors for snoring also include:
- Drinking alcohol before bed
Men are also at a greater risk of snoring than women. This is due to having more soft tissue in the airway. Men also carry more weight in their necks and chest. Some studies have also shown that testosterone can be linked to snoring.
Your sleeping position can also cause snoring. If you sleep on your back your tongue falls back into your throat. This can cause snoring if your airway is already small.
Is Sleep Apnea One of the Causes of Snoring?
Most of the time snoring is just bothersome. However, sometimes it can be a symptom of a more serious problem called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea happens when something is blocking your airway, making it impossible for you to breathe while you sleep. Your body senses it’s not getting enough oxygen and wakes up momentarily to open the airway again. Then you fall back to sleep. Most of the time this happens so fast that you don’t even notice.
Sleep apnea needs to be treated because it can cause other health issues.
How to Know if Sleep Apnea is Causing Snoring?
Now, just because you’re snoring it doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. To know if sleep apnea is causing your snoring, you need to keep an eye out for other symptoms including:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
You will also need to talk to a doctor, someone who has an understanding of the airway. They will need to inspect the airway to see if there is something blocking it when you sleep.
Fry, A. (2022, July 19). Why Do People Snore? Sleep Foundation. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/snoring/common-causes
Snoring: Causes, Treatment, Risks, Prevention. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15580-snoring
Snoring. (2005, April 26). WebMD. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/snoring
Why Do People Snore? Answers for Better Health. (2021, August 8). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved September 14, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/why-do-people-snore-answers-for-better-health