Reviewed by: Dr. Qanissa Afianti Razzqy Published: Apr 14, 2021 Updated: Apr 14, 2021
Snoring is a pretty common problem for many people.
You may have experienced it before, or you might even know someone who snores so loudly that they’re contributing towards making their partner sleepless at night too! But did you also know that for some people, the noise can actually be more than just an annoyance? It’s time to learn what causes this and how we can help fix these problems because after all – sleep quality is something everyone should not take lightly.
Snoring is a rough noise made during sleep that is caused by vibrating vocal folds or pendulous palate. It doesn’t necessarily represent a medical condition but can sometimes indicate severe sleeping problems or a health disorder.
Approximately 45% of people snore sometimes, and 25% do so almost all the time. The result is a partial blockage in their airways which creates irregular airflow and vibrations that lead to noise when they exhale. Men tend to snore more often than women do – it’s the result of their relaxed uvula and soft palate that partially block airflow through your airway which leads to irregular vibrations.
What Causes Snoring
We all know that snoring can be a serious issue for sleepers and their partners, which is why it’s important to find the right solutions. But what causes people to snore in the first place?
There are many reasons behind your partner’s or own nighttime breathing problems – some of them are more common than others. Understanding these causes will help you learn how best one should treat his/her condition with appropriate treatment!
Common causes of snoring include:
- Nasal and sinus problems
- Later stages of pregnancy
- Irregularly shaped bones in the face
- Swelling of the tonsils and adenoids
- Alcohol consumption
- Antihistamine or sleeping pill use
- Large base of the tongue or unusually large tongue and small mouth
- Congestion from allergies or a cold
- Swollen areas inside the mouth (including the uvula and soft palate)
Symptoms of Snoring
The primary symptom of snoring is unmistakable – the often loud, harsh or hoarse noises that you make while you are asleep. Other symptoms may include waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth.
Here are some common symptoms of snoring:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Recent weight gain
- Awakening in the morning not feeling rested
- Awaking at night feeling confused
- Change in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
- Observed pauses in breathing during sleep
How you snore may also indicate different issues, for example:
|How You Snore||What it May Indicate|
|Close mouth snoring||Issues with your tongue|
|Open mouth snoring||Enlarging or collapsing of the soft tissues in your throat while sleeping, causing airway obstruction|
|Snoring while sleeping on your back||Commonly caused due to lifestyle (i.e., weight increase, alcohol consumption or smoking)|
|Snoring in all sleep positions||Severe snoring, signalling serious airway obstruction issues and requires immediate and comprehensive treatment|
Snoring Can Lead to Sleep Apnea
Snoring is not always a sign of sleep apnea, but if you are suffering from extreme fatigue and drowsiness during the day then it could be. Normal snoring usually does not interfere with the quality of your sleep as much so don’t worry too much about that unless other symptoms exist such as daytime tiredness or heavy breathing.
Snoring may indicate more serious problems like obstructive airway disease which can lead to some really unpleasant side effects including chest pain for those who suffer from asthma and difficulty swallowing fluids due to sore throat in people without any respiratory conditions at all.
Call your doctor if you or your sleep partner have noticed any of the following red flags:
- You feel tired during the day.
- You snore loudly while sleeping.
- You stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep.
- You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or a meal.
How to Stop Snoring Naturally
There are medications that you can take that may help to reduce snoring, but there are also several ways that you can tackle this problem at home.
Here are 5 ways you can stop snoring naturally:
1. Change your lifestyle to stop snoring
Alcohol before bed causes you to snore. It relaxes your muscles and makes the back of your throat collapse when breathing which may cause some people’s mouths to open wide enough for air exhaled through it during sleep (aka a loud, deep sound).
Even if alcohol is consumed earlier in the day just go easy on yourself because you’re going to be sleeping soon. Drug or tobacco consumption also leads many smokers into their nighttime hours struggling with shortness of breath while trying not to make too much noise as they breathe that could wake up those around them.
2. Change your sleeping position
The back of your throat can be closed off when you sleep on it, so try and avoid sleeping in this position as much as possible. This is not due to the weight from fatty tissue under your chin or other factors beneath the neck. Rather, while lying face-down with your tongue relaxed at one side of the palate (possibly because there’s inadequate saliva), our mouths open more than usual which causes muscles around these areas to relax pushing up soft tissues like facial fat.
This compressed airway causes a decrease in oxygen levels for organs such as heart and lungs which may lead to fatigue during waking hours.
Luckily though if something isn’t working out well enough, there are two solutions available: taping tennis balls behind clothes or purchasing special pillows or beds.
3. Keep your nose clear
For those who are allergic to pollen, it can be difficult breathing with the congestion caused by severe allergies or sinusitis. To make sure that this doesn’t interfere with your quality of sleep, we recommend taking antihistamine tablets for relief.
Nasal sprays containing saline solution will also help unblock congested noses due to mucous buildup in order to breathe better while you’re sleeping without being interrupted by snoring.
4. Use an anti snoring devices
With the variety of stop snoring techniques and devices available, it is important to choose one that will work with your personal needs.
Some methods include nasal strips which open up the nostrils wider by pushing against them in a way similar to what happens when you yawn, throat sprays such as those used for allergies or reflux disease (which reduce inflammation) and mandibular advancement devices (MAD). These reposition the jaw so there is better airflow through the mouth.
For more severe cases of snoring, you can also try using a CPAP device – one of the most effective ways to stop snoring. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. A CPAP device that can help you breathe easily in your sleep. It uses a hose and mask to deliver constant and steady air pressure and prevents your airway from collapsing when you inhale while you’re sleeping.
5. Perform mouth and throat exercises
A study done by Vanessa Ieto of the Sleep Laboratory of the University of São Paulo in Brazil and her associates showed that mouth and throat exercises helped to reduce snoring. The results indicated that 8 minutes of oropharyngeal exercises performed 3 times a day for 3 months significantly reduced snoring.
The study showed a decrease in frequency of loud snoring by 36% and the total power of snoring by 59% after 3 months of exercising. Here are the exercises:
- Push your tongue against the back of your mouth and then slide it to the front.
- Then, suck on it for 20 times before pushing into a posture that forces you to touch one side of your lips with its tip while saying “A” intermittently for 20 times.
- The next step is placing a finger in-between both cheeks as if they were magnets trying not to be attracted together when you are chewing or eating anything.
- Finally, chew every time food goes from cheek muscle outward – or what we know as “buccinator.”
For a more detailed guide on mouth and throat exercises to cure your snoring problems, read this guide devised by the Sleep Foundation.
How to Stop Snoring Permanently
1. Use medication
It’s important to get rid of the underlying causes before you start treating your snoring. But if medication is what you’re looking for, consult with a doctor first!
When you are tired and your snoring is keeping the people around you awake, surgery may be an option to cure this. There are several surgical procedures focused on increasing the pharyngeal airways, which in turn reduces snoring and treats sleep apnea for example: Tracheostomy (making a hole between throat lower somewhere), Soft-palate implants (placing something under soft palate) or Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty(surgery of uva).
Somnoplasty is one more technique – by removing tissues from the tongue’s base it works with laser therapy but uses low levels of radiofrequency heat energy instead.
These burn areas are eventually resorbed by the body, shrinking tissues and stiffening them to reduce symptoms of snoring. Somnoplasty is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting for 30 minutes with minimal recovery time afterward.
If you have persistent problems with snoring or suspect you or your loved one may have sleep apnea, consult a doctor immediately. Smarter Health helps patients connect with the right specialists anytime, anywhere. Register your interest and state the problem you’d like to be addressed on Smarter Health and our team will get back to you as soon as possible.