Your snoring might just seem like an embarrassing habit, but it may actually be more serious. Regular snoring prevents you from getting deep sleep, so it can lead to brain fog, stress, and physical health issues. If you snore three or more nights per week, you should try to figure out the cause and the solution to the problem.
Snoring happens when the tissues in your mouth or throat block your airway. As you breathe in and the air moves past these tissues, they vibrate loudly. Everyone who snores experiences this airway obstruction. There are many different causes of obstruction, though. If you snore regularly, it’s important to figure out the cause of your snoring, so you can come up with a treatment plan. Here are 13 of the most common snoring causes and how to fix them:
Sleeping Pills and Alcohol
Alcohol and other sedatives may make you sleep deeply, but they can also affect your breathing. These substances are muscle relaxants, so they can cause you to lose muscle tone in your throat. If the muscles and tissues around your throat get too relaxed, they’ll collapse over your airway and vibrate as you breathe.
To prevent snoring, you should avoid drinking alcohol right before bed. Stop drinking a few hours before your bedtime, so the alcohol has time to wear off before you go to sleep. If you rely on sleeping pills to get quality rest, speak to your doctor about trying an alternative treatment. You may be able to try a natural remedy that will help you sleep without making you snore. For example, you could try taking melatonin, a natural supplement that helps your body regulate its sleep-wake cycle. Certain herbs and teas promote deep sleep, too, and meditation can be a great way to relax and doze off.
Weak throat muscles are a common cause of snoring. If your throat muscles can’t support the surrounding tissues while you sleep, they’ll collapse and block your airway. Regular snoring can also weaken the muscles in your upper airway, so you may become trapped in a vicious cycle. The more you snore, the weaker your throat muscles become. The weaker your throat muscles become, the more you snore.
To break this cycle, you can try throat and jaw exercises to strengthen your muscles. Some popular exercises involve your tongue. For example, you can place the tip of your tongue against the back of your top front teeth, and then slide your tongue backwards until you reach your soft palate. Another option is to place your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth for several seconds. You can also try opening your mouth and contracting the muscles in the back of your throat. If you look in the mirror, you should see your uvula move up and down.
Singing can strengthen the muscles in your throat, too. You can do vocal exercises up and down a musical scale, or you can simply sing along loudly to the radio. One of the best syllables for strengthening your throat is “ung-gah” because it engages your soft palate. Try replacing the words in your favorite song with “ung-gah,” and sing as energetically as you can. It may feel silly, but you might notice an improvement in your snoring.
If throat exercises don’t work, another helpful treatment is an anti-snoring mouthpiece. A mouthpiece will change the positioning of your jaw or tongue to open up your airway while you sleep. One popular option is a mandibular advancement device, or MAD, which holds your lower jaw forward. Another is a tongue stabilizing device, or TSD, which pulls your tongue forward and prevents it from collapsing over your airway.
Allergies often lead to congestion, which is one of the most common snoring causes. When you’re congested, your nasal breathing may cause wheezing or whistling sounds. If your nose is severely stuffed up, you may not be able to breathe nasally at all, especially while you sleep. You may switch to mouth breathing to get more oxygen, but this causes the air to rush directly past the tissues that are responsible for the snoring sounds.
The best way to prevent snoring caused by allergies is to remove the allergens from your environment. Dust is one of the most common allergies, and it can easily accumulate indoors. Wipe down all the hard surfaces throughout your home to clear away dust, pet dander, and other allergens. If you sleep with a fan on, wash the blades. Change your sheets and pillowcases regularly to avoid direct contact with allergens.
If your congestion is unavoidable, one option is to use nasal dilators. These snoring aids are small cones that you insert into your nostrils to keep your nasal passages open. Nasal decongestants can be helpful, too.
Snoring and sleep apnea are both more common in people who are overweight or obese than in people who are at a healthy weight. Excess fat around your neck puts extra pressure on your throat, especially when you lie down on your back. When you fall asleep, the extra weight may cause your throat muscles to collapse and block your airway.
Weight loss is usually one of the first snoring remedies doctors recommend to overweight or obese patients. Even losing just 10 or 15 pounds could make a big difference in your snoring. Cutting back on calories, eating healthy and balanced meals, and exercising regularly can help you shed weight and improve your sleep quality. For most people, it’s better to gradually make healthy changes for weight loss than to dramatically change your entire lifestyle. You should make sure your habits are sustainable, so you can successfully lose weight and keep it off.
Snoring aids like MADs and TSDs may also help if you’re overweight. They may not prevent the tissues from collapsing, but they can create more open space in your airway, which will prevent the collapsed tissues from affecting your breathing.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition that causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. The most common form of the disorder is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the tissues in your throat completely block your airway, preventing you from inhaling. After several seconds of not breathing, your brain forces you to wake up to gasp for air. This can happen dozens or even hundreds of times every night, so it prevents you from getting deep sleep.
Sleep apnea is closely linked to snoring. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but almost everyone who has sleep apnea snores. As the tissues start to block your airway, you may still be able to inhale. However, because you have to force the air past the collapsed tissues, the intense rush of air may cause the tissues to vibrate against each other, creating the snoring sound.
The most common and most successful treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP, which stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” Traditional CPAP devices include a machine that delivers oxygen, a mask that attaches to your nose or mouth, and a hose that connects the mask to the machine. As you sleep, the CPAP machine pushes air into your throat, which creates positive pressure and keeps your airway open. This prevents both snoring and sleep apnea.
It seems logical that you’d sleep well after going to bed exhausted, but sleep deprivation can actually make it harder to get quality rest. When you finally fall asleep after being sleep-deprived, your body may relax excessively. This can cause the muscles in your throat to relax as well, which increases your risk of airway obstruction.
Like with alcohol and sleeping pills, this can also become a vicious cycle. Snoring affects your sleep quality, so you may feel exhausted the next day. Then, when you go to bed, your body may relax too much, which can lead to more snoring. The best way to break the cycle is to get enough sleep. You should aim for at least seven or eight hours of sleep per night. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps as well.
Creating a healthy sleeping environment is important, too. Your curtains or blinds should block out as much light as possible, so you won’t be disturbed when the sun comes up. To block out sounds from outside, you could use a fan or a white noise machine. If you still feel tired during the day because you snore at night, you could try taking a short nap in the afternoon. After napping, you shouldn’t feel excessively sleep-deprived at night.
Sleeping on your back greatly increases your risk of snoring. When you lie on your back, your tongue can easily fall back onto your throat, blocking your airway and making you snore. Also, gravity will pull on your throat, which can narrow your airway. It’s much easier for your airway to stay open when you sleep on your side or stomach.
If you always sleep on your back, it can be difficult to adjust to a new sleeping position. You may roll over onto your back once you fall asleep, so using a body pillow can be helpful. A body pillow will keep you propped up on your side, so you can’t roll onto your back. Another option is to tape or sew a tennis ball into the back of your shirt. Lying on your back on top of a tennis ball will be so uncomfortable that you won’t accidentally roll over in your sleep.
You can also try an anti-snoring wristband. These devices listen for the sound of your snores and start vibrating once they detect the noise. This gently wakes you up and reminds you to adjust to a better sleeping position. Most anti-snoring wristbands have mixed reviews, though, so it’s probably better for you to try other solutions first.
Sleeping With an Open Mouth
Snoring almost always happens when you breathe through your mouth. You may mouth breathe during sleep because of nasal swelling or congestion, or it may just be your body’s natural habit. When you breathe through your nose, the air bypasses most of the tissues that are responsible for snoring. When you mouth breathe, on the other hand, the air rushes directly past your soft palate, tongue, and uvula, causing these tissues to loudly vibrate against each other.
If you breathe through your mouth because you struggle to get enough oxygen through your nose, treating the nasal problem should be your main priority. Decongestants and allergy medications can help clear your nasal passages, and taking a hot shower before you sleep can reduce nasal swelling. If you have a deviated septum, nasal polyps, or another structural issue that causes difficulty breathing, you should speak to your doctor about treatment options.
If you simply breathe through your mouth out of habit, a chin strap is one of the best snoring remedies. This snoring aid wraps around the top of your head and the underside of your chin to hold your mouth closed while you sleep, forcing you to breathe through your nose. Most are adjustable and made out of comfortable fabric, so they’re fairly easy to get used to.
Nasal Congestion and Resistance
Nasal resistance is the resistance of airflow in your nasal airways. It can be caused by anything that makes your nasal passages swell or narrow, including congestion, deviated septum, and nasal collapse. It’s also possible to have nasal resistance simply because you have small nostrils. When you’re awake, you may be able to breathe through your nose despite your nasal resistance. However, when you sleep, your body will choose the easiest method of getting oxygen. If it’s hard to get enough air through your nose, you’ll naturally breathe through your mouth while you sleep. This leads to snoring as the air will move directly past the collapsed tissues in the back of your mouth and throat.
A nasal dilator is one of the best snoring remedies for nasal resistance. It can open up your nasal passages enough that you won’t have to switch to mouth breathing when you sleep. You should also look into treatments for the cause of your nasal resistance. If you have chronic congestion, decongestants or allergy medications could help. If you have a deviated septum, undergoing a septoplasty surgery will probably correct the issue.
If you smoke, it’s likely that the cigarettes are at least partially responsible for your snoring. Cigarette smoke irritates the lining of your nose and throat, making it inflamed and swollen. When your nasal passages are swollen, you’ll have to breathe through your mouth. When your throat is swollen, there’s an increased chance that that the tissues will vibrate against each other as you inhale. Smoking also increases the amount of mucus that your body produces, and excess mucus can obstruct your airway.
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it brings about a number of health benefits. As soon as you smoke your last cigarette, your body starts to heal. Inflammation can decrease right away, and your lung functioning can improve within a few days. You may notice your snoring get better as soon as you quit, which can motivate you to stay away from cigarettes. If you can’t quit entirely, cutting back can still make a major difference.
A sinus infection occurs when fluid gets trapped in your sinuses. It can cause congestion and swelling of your nasal passages, making it difficult or impossible to breathe through your nose. Sinus infections usually go away within a week or two, so you shouldn’t worry too much about one infection affecting your sleep quality long-term. Some people experience chronic sinusitis, though, which lasts for several months or goes away and comes back several times per year. In this case, a sinus infection can cause a serious snoring problem because it prevents you from breathing through your nose while you sleep.
Treating your sinusitis is the best way to stop snoring. You could try saline nasal sprays, which drain your nasal passages and create more space in your airway. Corticosteroids are also sometimes used to treat inflammation from sinus infections, which can reduce swelling in your nasal passages and help you breathe. These are available as nasal sprays, injections, and oral medications. If over-the-counter products don’t help, you should speak to your doctor about other treatment options.
To reduce your snoring while healing from a sinus infection, you can try nasal dilators. Even if your nasal passages are swollen or congested, these snoring aids can open them up enough for you to breathe more easily.
Your adenoids are a group of tissues located at the top of your throat. They help your body fight off infection by trapping germs and bacteria that enter your mouth and nose. If your body is trying to fight off an infection, your adenoids may swell up. In some cases, the adenoids stay swollen and infected even when the rest of the body has healed. Inflamed adenoids are one of the most common snoring causes in children, but they can affect adults as well. When your adenoids swell up, they can block the airway and vibrate as you inhale, causing snoring.
The main treatment for inflamed or enlarged adenoids is adenoidectomy, a surgical procedure to remove the tissue. The surgery is done under general anesthesia, and most patients can go home the day of the procedure. It’s sometimes combined with a tonsillectomy as the tonsils can become inflamed and cause snoring, too. An adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy may not always be necessary to stop snoring, though. A mandibular advancement device may help you create enough open space in your throat to breathe without difficulty.
Most snorers have a problem with their soft palate or uvula collapsing over their airway. In some cases, though, the tongue is to blame. If your tongue is larger than average, it may naturally obstruct your airway when you lie down. It could also fall back over your throat due to your sleeping position.
A simple test can tell you whether or not your tongue is the cause of your snoring. First, open your mouth and make a snoring sound. Then, stick your tongue out as far as you can, hold it in place with your teeth, and try to make the same sound. If you can’t make the snoring noise when your tongue is sticking out, you’re probably a tongue-based snorer.
The simplest treatment for tongue-based snoring is changing your sleeping position. When you lie flat on your back, it’s easy for your tongue to collapse over your throat. Try propping your head up with an extra pillow to keep your tongue in place. You could also use a wedge pillow or place some books underneath your mattress to lift your head up.
If changing your sleeping position doesn’t work, you could try using a tongue stabilizing device. TSDs use suction to gently hold your tongue forward and keep your airway open. They’re small and discreet, so you can use them anywhere. The mouthpiece may feel slightly uncomfortable at first, but you should adjust to it after a few nights.