Snoring occurs when the tissues of a person’s upper respiratory tract vibrate, making them breathe loudly while they sleep. It’s a common problem that affects most people at some point in their life.
Often times, snoring is not viewed as a serious health problem and home remedies can reduce it. If these don’t work, medical treatment may be possible.
Sometimes snoring indicates a more serious health problem. If it becomes bothersome or a person experiences other symptoms, it is best to see a doctor.
During the waking hours, the tissues in the throat and upper airways are open, and air gets into the lungs easily in most people.
During sleep, the soft tissues and tongue relax. This can partially block the airway. When the air flowing in and out of the airways encounters resistance, it can vibrate and cause snoring.
Some of the factors that can lead to snoring include:
- drink alcohol
- Use of sedatives or other muscle relaxants
- sleep on your back
- Constipation from a cold or allergy
- a different septum or other structural features
- be middle-aged
- to be male
- genetic traits that affect the structure of the mouth and throat
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, approximately 40% of adult men and 24% of adult women snore regularly.
Snoring is more common in middle age, while men over 70 years of age snore less often than younger men.
Research also suggests that people who snore are more likely to have:
All of these factors increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, experts do not know the exact role snoring plays in these conditions, or whether it is a cause or an effect.
Find out about sleeping positions for good health here.
Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. A person with this condition may stop breathing for a while while sleeping, and then make choking or wheezing noises.
There are two kinds:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is a structural blockage. This type of sleep apnea is often related to snoring.
- Central sleep apnea results from a problem with the central nervous system that controls breathing. This type of sleep apnea is not associated with snoring.
Aside from loud snoring, a person with sleep apnea can also experience:
Sleep apnea has links to other conditions such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, hypothyroidism, or problems related to the nervous system.
Some research suggests that around 50% of people with high blood pressure may have sleep apnea. Experts also believe that sleep apnea contributes to high blood pressure.
Various home remedies can help with snoring.
Refrain from alcohol and sedative medication
Medications that act as sedatives or tranquilizers are aimed at relaxing muscles, which can lead to snoring. Alcohol also has a depressant effect.
People should only use prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids with the guidance of a doctor.
Relief from nasal congestion
A stuffy nose is often the result of inflammation. Medications and other techniques can help reduce congestion and inflammation.
- Nasal strips
- Corticosteroids and nasal moisturizing sprays
- a room humidifier
Change sleeping positions
Sleeping position can affect snoring. A person sleeping on their back can cause their tongue to relax and block their airways.
Alternative sleeping positions and methods to try out are:
- sleep on your side
- Raise the head of the bed a few inches
- Using an anti-snoring pillow to improve neck position
Another tip is to sew a tennis ball or other soft item into the back of a person’s sleep shirt. This can help prevent rolling over into the rear sleeping position. There are also position sleepers available online to help a person avoid sleeping on their backs.
In a person who is obese, adipose tissue can surround and narrow the airways, obstructing airflow, which can lead to snoring.
Maintaining a moderate weight can reduce the risk of snoring.
A customized oral appliance, similar to a retainer or face mask, can help keep the airway open by moving the tongue and jaw forward slightly.
A specially trained dentist can design this device for one person.
Research suggests that neck exercises in some people can help strengthen the neck muscles and keep them from collapsing while they sleep. However, the study results are mild and contradicting, while practitioners cannot agree on what these standardized exercises should look like.
Here are examples of exercises that some experts recommend:
- Repeat each vowel (“a, e, i, o, u”) out loud several times a day for 3 minutes.
- Close your mouth and pursue your lips and hold for 30 seconds.
- Open your mouth and contract the muscle in the back of the throat for 30 seconds. Repeat several times.
- Make one vowel intermittently every day and then continuously for 3 minutes.
- Place the tip of the tongue behind the upper front teeth, then slide the tongue backward. Do this for 3 minutes each day.
- Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth for 3 minutes each day.
- Press the tongue into the lower part of the mouth while holding the tip against the front teeth for 3 minutes a day.
- Open your mouth and move your jaw sideways. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
A person needs to practice these exercises consistently and regularly to see results.
Tobacco smoke is an irritant that can cause tissue inflammation. The upper airways are a narrow passageway, so even small inflammation can restrict airflow.
Quitting smoking can help reduce this risk and reduce the chance of other diseases and conditions.
Follow good sleep hygiene practices
Develop a good sleep hygiene regimen by sleeping evenly in a comfortable bed in a dark, cool room. Experts link inadequate sleep to weight gain, which can lead to snoring.
Whenever possible, follow these tips for a good night’s sleep:
- Make sure the bed is comfortable
- Make sure the room is cool and calm
- Using blinds or heavy curtains to restrict outside light
- keep a regular sleep and wake rhythm, even on weekends
- Avoid screen time before falling asleep
- Avoid eating large meals and drinking fluids just before bed
- Exercise, but not within 2-3 hours of bedtime
- Avoid caffeine and nicotine
- Keeping smartphones and other devices outside of the room
Read more tips for getting a better night’s sleep.
If a person’s snoring or sleep apnea is severe, a doctor may suggest treatment alongside lifestyle measures.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
This is the first-line treatment for people with obstructive sleep apnea. A person wears a special mask that provides compressed air while sleeping.
In some cases, surgery can help resolve heavy snoring. Several options are available for people with snoring or sleep apnea, but the results are often difficult to predict and less robust than CPAP.
- Palate implants, in which small fiber rods are inserted into the soft palate to stiffen loose tissue.
- A septoplasty can help straighten a deviating nasal septum.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty removes excess tissue from the soft palate and uvula.
- Radio frequency stiffens loose tissue in and around the throat and tongue.
- With Genioglossus progress, the base of the tongue is moved forward in order to have more air to breathe.
There are risks with all types of surgery, so it should be a last resort.
Heavy snoring and sleep apnea can disrupt sleep and lead to fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Lack of sleep can also increase your risk of some mental health problems.
If a person suffers from heavy snoring, especially with other symptoms, they may want to seek medical advice.
A doctor or dentist can help determine the underlying causes and suggest ways to stop or reduce snoring.
Snoring occurs because the tissues of the airways vibrate during sleep. It can occur for various reasons.
Snoring can indicate an illness. It can also create embarrassment and disrupt the sleep of the person and other partners or people nearby.
A doctor can advise a person on how to reduce their snoring.