Why Do I Snore?

When you sleep, your muscles relax, including the ones in your throat. This relaxation can cause your airway to narrow, making it difficult for your lungs to inhale and exhale the amount of air you need.

If your airway narrows, the air you breathe is pulled through it faster. This causes the soft tissue in the airway to dehydrate and vibrate. The sound this makes is what you hear as snoring.

 

Why do I snore?

Reasons for snoring

There are many reasons why someone might snore. Medication, age and lifestyle can all play a part, as well as pregnancy and allergies. The following boxes will show you how each factor can increase your risk of snoring.

Colds, allergies & blocked nose
Impact

When nasal tissue swells during a cold (or allergic reaction), the airflow through the nose becomes restricted. This congestion narrows your airway, forcing the air you breathe to travel faster and further dehydrate the tissue. This may force you to breathe through your mouth – and this can lead to snoring.

Reducing your risk of allergies is a simple way to help prevent the obstruction of nasal passages. Try to control dust and bed mites by using an anti-allergen bedsheet and improving your bedroom cleaning regime.

Encourage your pets to stay off living room furniture and beds as this can aggravate pet allergies. If you suffer from hayfever, try to wash your clothes regularly and keep your windows closed to reduce the possibility of bringing allergens into the home.

If you frequently suffer from nasal congestion because of a cold or flu, try to eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids to boost your immune system.

Pregnancy
Impact

Snoring is a relatively common problem during pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester. While you’re pregnant, the amount of blood in your body increases, causing your blood vessels to expand. This may lead to swollen nasal passages, forcing you to breathe through your mouth which can lead to snoring.

Weight gain during pregnancy can also lead to increased neck mass and a narrowing of the upper airway, restricting your ability to breathe freely.

To reduce the risk of nasal inflammation, take steps to combat your risk of allergies. You should also eat a balanced diet and drink plenty of fluids to avoid colds and flu.

It’s natural to gain weight during pregnancy – but if you want to limit the effect of weight gain on snoring, try not to gain more than the recommended amount of weight as suggested by your doctor and midwife.

Medication
Impact

Some types of medication (such as sedatives) can relax the soft tissue at the back of your throat, increasing your risk of snoring. You might find that you don’t have the muscle tone needed to keep your upper airway open during the night.

If you take medication that has a sedating effect, consider asking your doctor to prescribe a non-sedating alternative. Don’t stop taking prescribed medication without consulting your doctor first.

Age
Impact

Although you can snore at any age, people over 35 are at an increased risk of snoring. As you get older, muscle tone decreases all over your body, including your throat. You may find that you no longer have the muscle tone needed to keep your upper airway open properly during the night.

With age, muscular tension will gradually decrease. But you can take action to ensure muscular tension does not decrease any further than nature intends.

Try to exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet; being overweight by only a few kilograms can increase the risk of snoring considerably.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink and avoid smoking where possible as these are both risk factors associated with snoring.

Genetic disposition
Impact

In some cases, your genetic disposition can make you more likely to snore. You may have a naturally narrow upper airway, which could cause the soft tissue at the back of your throat to vibrate.

If you also have a larger than average-sized tongue, it’s possible that this could partially or fully block the upper airway. Narrow nasal passages could have a similar effect on snoring as nasal congestion, causing you to breathe through your mouth, which can lead to snoring.

Although you can’t change your genetic disposition, it is possible for you to limit the effect it can have. Be aware of how drinking alcohol, smoking, being overweight and taking some types of medication can affect your upper airway and lead to snoring.

You should also remember that colds, allergies, smoking and even pregnancy could cause nasal congestion and worsen snoring caused by naturally narrow nasal passages.

Lifestyle Changes

In most cases, you can adapt your lifestyle to reduce your risk of snoring. Here are some changes you can make.

Alcohol
Impact

Alcohol can relax the soft tissue at the back of the throat and increase your risk of snoring. This relaxation means that you might not have the muscle tone needed to keep your upper airway open enough during the night. Alcohol also has a dehydrating effect on airway tissue.

Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink should limit the relaxation effect on muscle tissue that can lead to snoring. Avoid drinking excessively too, as this can lead to weight gain – something that significantly increases your risk of snoring.

Weight
Impact

Being overweight by only a few pounds can substantially increase your chances of snoring. An increased mass around your neck often leads to your upper airway narrowing, restricting your ability to breathe freely.

You may also find that you don’t have the muscle tone needed to hold the upper airway open during the night. This is what prevents the vibration of soft tissue in your throat.

Eating a balanced diet and exercising more frequently can help you to reduce body fat and alleviate snoring caused by being overweight.

If you haven’t exercised for a long time, have an existing medical condition, or have specific dietary requirements, consult your doctor first.

Smoking
Impact

Smoking can increase your risk of snoring. Cigarette smoke irritates and damages the lining of your nasal cavity and throat, causing swelling and reducing the airway tissue’s elasticity. Loss of elasticity means this tissue is more likely to collapse.

Obstruction of the nasal passages may force you to breathe through your mouth which can lead to snoring. Swelling of the throat can lead to a narrowing of the upper airway, restricting your ability to breathe freely.

Reducing the number of cigarettes that you smoke can help limit the irritation and damage caused to the lining of the nasal cavity and throat.

Stopping smoking altogether could help to alleviate smoking-related snoring. This can be difficult, but the NHS have some really great resources to help you kick the habit.

Around 58% of snorers are aged between 50-59