Why Do I Snore and How Do I Stop?

Snoring is the sound of the tissues in your mouth and throat vibrating when you breathe. It happens because the space is too small for air to move freely and the tissues are too loose. 

There are many things that can cause it, some more serious than others. But once you figure out the cause, there are many options to help you get it under control.

Maybe It’s Your Anatomy

You might snore because of how your mouth and throat are shaped. The roof of your mouth may be very low or thick. You might have extra tissue in your throat or very large tonsils. There may be a problem with the shape of your nose, such as a deviated septum, or growths called polyps in your nasal passages. Any of those things can make it hard for air to get through.

Try this:

  • Nasal strips you stick on the outside of your nose hold your nostrils open to let more air through.
  • Your dentist can fit you for a mouth guard that holds your jaw and tongue forward to keep your throat open.

Surgery can fix a deviated septum or remove nasal polyps. It can also tighten or remove extra tissue in your mouth and throat.

Maybe It’s Congestion

Allergies or a cold can clog your sinuses and swell your nasal passages, which forces you to breathe through your mouth.

Try this:

  • See a doctor about your allergies. Medicines or allergy shots may bring you relief.
  • Nasal strips, nasal sprays, or a saline rinse can open up your sinuses at night.

Maybe It’s How You Sleep

When you lie on your back, your jaw and tongue slide backward. That can narrow or even block your airway.

Try this:

  • Go to sleep on your side. If you know you roll onto your back in the night, line up pillows behind you to act as a barrier.
  • Raise the head of your bed or prop up your upper body with pillows. Don’t just bend your neck to raise your head. That makes your airway even smaller.

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Maybe It’s Your Weight

Anyone can snore, but it’s more likely if you’re overweight. Extra tissue and fat in your neck and throat make your airway smaller.

Try this:

  • Get to a healthy weight. Your doctor can help you set a goal and make a plan to reach it.

Maybe It’s What You Drink

Alcohol acts as a sedative. It relaxes your muscles more than normal during sleep. That makes the tissues in your mouth and throat looser and more likely to vibrate.

Try this:

  • If you have a drink in the evening, make sure it’s at least 2 hours before bedtime.

Maybe You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, it’s easy to quickly drop into a deep sleep. Your muscles become extra relaxed, which can trigger snoring.

Try this:

  • Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

Maybe It’s Apnea

About half of people who snore regularly actually stop breathing over and over all night long. It’s a serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea. Your airway closes off and your blood oxygen levels drop until your brain rouses you enough to take a breath. This keeps you from getting to the deeper stages of sleep you need to wake up refreshed. And it raises your chances for many other health problems.

Try this:

  • The most effective way to treat apnea is with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. While you sleep, it pumps air through a mask you wear over your nose and mouth to gently force your airway open.
  • If you can’t use the mask, your doctor may suggest a different technology that controls the air flow through your nose. 
  • Other stop-snoring strategies, from sleeping on your side to losing weight to surgery, may help.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 01, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Snoring.”

National Sleep Foundation: “Snoring and Sleep,” “Is Snoring Bad?” “How to Prevent Snoring.”

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: “Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.”

American Sleep Apnea Association: “Is it Snoring or Sleep Apnea?”

Harvard Men’s Health Watch: “Snoring Solutions.”

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