When asleep, your muscles relax, allowing tissues in your airways to vibrate as you breathe. These vibrating tissues narrow your airways, causing a sound as air is pushed through.
About four in 10 people snore, with men more likely to snore than women. Getting older increases your risk of being a snorer, with women more likely to snore after menopause. You are also more likely to snore if you are overweight, drink alcohol or smoke. Other risk factors for snoring include if you:
In children, snoring is usually caused by a blocked nose when they have a cold or if they have very large tonsils or adenoids.
Snoring can come and go but may become a chronic (long-term) condition that can disrupt sleep and cause insomnia, leading to tiredness and irritability. It can also disturb the sleep of the person sleeping next to you. However, you can often stop snoring by making lifestyle changes, using special devices at night or, occasionally, with surgery.
Snoring is rarely a sign of a serious condition but it can be a symptom of OSA.
Snoring occurs when your muscles relax as you sleep, allowing soft tissues in your airways to vibrate as you breathe. This can occur in any part of your upper airway including the:
Causes of snoring include:
You may be unaware you are snoring but your partner may notice harsh, repetitive breathing noises when you’re sleeping.
If your snoring is a symptom of OSA, your partner may also notice sudden pauses in your breathing. These pauses or slowing in breathing usually occur at least five times per hour of sleep. You might also have:
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Chronic snoring associated with OSA can put you at risk of:
In children, behaviour and learning problems are more likely.
It is important to see your GP as sleep apnoea can be serious if it is not treated. See your GP if:
Your GP will discuss your symptoms and how they are affecting you. As your partner may be more aware of your symptoms than you, it might help to take them with you.
Your GP may also examine your nose, mouth, throat and neck to check for any problems that might be causing your snoring. They may check your height and weight too.
They may look for causes of nasal congestion or a condition such as an underactive thyroid or allergies. They’ll give you advice about how to stop snoring, including, if needed, support to quit smoking.
Tests are not usually needed. However, if your GP suspects you have OSA, they may refer you to a sleep clinic for assessment, diagnosis and treatment. They may also refer you to an ear, nose and throat doctor.
To stop snoring, try:
If your snoring is disturbing your partner, they can try wearing earplugs.
You should avoid sleeping pills as these can cause snoring.
If snoring is having a serious effect on your life, your GP or consultant may recommend a:
Evidence for the effectiveness of these treatments is limited. So first try the snoring home remedies above before investing money in any of these devices.
If a cold is triggering your snoring, you can try a short course of nasal decongestant spray. Long-term use of nasal decongestants is not recommended as they can damage the inside of your nose.
If there is a physical reason for your snoring or other treatments have not worked, your GP or consultant may suggest surgery. This may not cure you of snoring and the problem may later return.
Surgery for snoring includes:
What exercises reduce snoring?
Mouth and tongue exercises can help reduce your snoring by strengthening muscles to prevent tissues from vibrating so much when you fall asleep, which is what causes snoring. You can try:
Do very skinny people snore?
Yes, very thin people can snore. Although being overweight or obese increases your risk of snoring, there are many other conditions that can cause snoring, such as defects in your nose or problems with the back of your throat. These conditions can affect people of all weights.
Why can't I hear myself snore?
When you are sleeping, your nervous system is less sensitive to hearing non-threatening sounds, such as your own snoring.
Why have I started snoring all of a sudden?
There are several risk factors for snoring, one or several of which may be causing you to start snoring. These include developing an allergy, getting older, gaining weight, smoking, drinking too much alcohol or having nasal congestion.
Why is my snoring getting worse?
Your snoring can get worse with age and weight gain, as well as if you have started smoking or are drinking more alcohol, particularly before bedtime.
Can you snore if you have no tonsils?
Very large tonsils or adenoids can cause snoring, especially in children. Removing these tonsils or adenoids can therefore stop snoring. However, there are other reasons that you may snore, such as having a deviated septum in your nose, nasal polyps or obstructive sleep apnoea. In these cases, even with your tonsils removed, you may still snore.