You know the sounds of someone snoring. You snore when the flow of air from your mouth or nose to your lungs makes the tissues of your throat vibrate when you sleep. This can make a loud, raspy noise. Loud snoring can make it hard for you and your partner to get a good night’s sleep. Snoring may point to other medical problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
What Causes Snoring?
When you sleep, the muscles in the back of the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. If they relax too much, they narrow or block your airway. As you breathe, your soft palate and uvula, the small finger-shaped piece of tissue that hangs down in the back of the throat, vibrate and knock against the back of your throat. This causes the sounds you hear during snoring. Snoring may point to other medical problems, such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Other potential causes include:
- Being overweight
- Last month of pregnancy
- Nasal congestion from colds or allergies
- Swelling of the soft palate or uvula
- Swollen adenoids and tonsils that block the airways
- Use of sleeping pills, antihistamines or alcohol at bedtime
Snoring is treated through lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking and avoiding the use of alcohol and sedatives before bed. If necessary, and with a doctor’s approval, treatment can include a mouthpiece or dental appliance, worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft throat tissues from collapsing and obstructing the airway. A chinstrap for snoring can help keep the jaw and mouth shut and force breath naturally through the nose.