What Causes Snoring?
Snoring happens when you go from a light sleep to a deep sleep and the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate. And, the more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This causes tissue vibration to increase, which causes your snoring to grow louder. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate.
To stop snoring, it’s necessary to first identify exactly how and why you’re snoring. When you get to the bottom of why you snore, then you can find the right solutions to help relieve your snoring.
The most common causes of snoring include:
Being overweight – Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying even a small amount of excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring.
Your Age – As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
The way you’re built – Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary.
Allergies, Nasal and Sinus Problems – Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring. This can include congestion from a cold or flu, allergies or deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum.
Alcohol, smoking and medications – Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers, can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
Sleep position –Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.
Being dehydrated – Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated which can create more snoring
How Can You Reduce or Relieve Your Snoring?
Some techniques to try to relieve your snoring include:
- Lose weight. If you never snored before you gained the extra weight, it is a good chance losing the weight will reverse the snoring. For some people, dropping even a few pounds can reduce the fatty tissue in the back of their throat and decrease or even stop their snoring.
- Stop smoking. Smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring
- Avoid Alcohol and Sedatives. Alcohol and sedatives increases relaxation of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore.
- Clear Your Nasal Passages. A hot shower before you go to bed can help open nasal passages. If you have a stuffy nose, you can rinse your sinuses with saline before bed. Using a Neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips can also help you breathe more easily while sleeping. If you have allergies, reduce dust mites and pet dander in your bedroom or use an allergy medication.
- Change Your Sleeping Position. Try sleeping on your side instead of your back. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are also specially designed pillows available for purchase to help reduce snoring.
- Stay Well Hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids so the secretions in your nose and soft palate do not become sticky when sleeping.
- Get Plenty of Sleep. Create a healthy bedtime ritual and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way can help you sleep better and often minimizes snoring.
If none of these suggestions help with your snoring, consult your doctor or otolaryngologist as snoring may be a warning sign of a more serious condition such as sleep apnea. They may recommend a medical device or surgical procedure.