Why Do People Snore?

Woman covering her ears in the bed next to her boyfirend, wondering why do people sleep.

At a Glance

  • Snoring is a result of a strain on the lungs’ ability to inhale oxygen due to obstructed airways, leading to a vibration of the soft part of the roof of your mouth.
  • Some snoring causes include excessive fatty tissue, throat or nasal deformities, poor positioning while you sleep and sleep apnea.
  • Avoid snoring by raising your head if you sleep on your back, treating sleep apnea, losing weight, staying hydrated and avoiding alcohol and smoking.

Have you ever been woken up by the sound of your own snoring? Does your partner often complain about your snoring? Does your snoring ever leave you feeling unrested when you wake up?

Snoring is a common issue; around 40% of all people are affected by some degree of snoring. I’m sure many of you will be surprised to learn that snoring isn’t always as harmless as it may seem.

Many people who snore suffer from broken sleep, leading to decreased daytime function as a result of tiredness. This means that you won’t wake up feeling refreshed and even the simplest day-to-day activities will leave you feeling completely exhausted.

While in some cases snoring is harmless, it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying health issue. If you’re worried that your snoring might be having an impact on your health, talk to your doctor.

Most people don’t even realise that snoring can actually become a serious health problem, which is why I wanted to bring awareness to the subject. In this article I’ll delve a little deeper into the question “why do people snore?”, along with the severity of snoring-related illnesses and some solutions you can try in order to prevent snoring.

Why Do People Snore?

Snoring is caused by a strain on the lungs’ ability to inhale oxygen due to obstructed airways, leading to a vibration of the soft part of the roof of your mouth, known as the soft palate. The obstruction of airflow is usually caused by the muscles that open the airway becoming too relaxed, which causes it to press against the airway.

It can also be caused by an accumulation of excessive fatty tissue. Airway obstruction can also be caused by throat or nasal deformities, such as an abnormally long soft palate. (source)

Another reason for snoring is poor positioning while you sleep causing narrowing of your airway. Sleeping on your back is the most common position known to cause snoring, because when the muscles in your throat relax while you are lying down they press against the airway. It’s recommended to sleep on your side to prevent the muscles in your throat from relaxing against your airways. If you feel most comfortable sleeping on your back, raising your head slightly should be able to do the trick and help you stop. (source)

Snoring can also be a sign of a disorder called sleep apnea. Usually undiagnosed, sleep apnea causes interrupted breathing. In certain cases, a person’s breathing can stop hundreds of times a night, affecting the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain and the rest of the body. There are a number of health problems associated with sleep apnea such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Suffocation

If you feel like you may be suffering from sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. There’s a slew of health complications that you may have to face if you suffer long term, so it’s important to take preventative measures.

In worst case scenario, you may stop breathing in your sleep for so long that you can suffocate. Sometimes you can be woken up by the sudden continuation of your own breathing, because it usually creates a gasping noise. If this is happening to you multiple times a night and you wake up each time, imagine how tired you’ll feel the day after such an interrupted sleep, especially if it’s happening every single night.

If you are already suffering from sleep apnea, there are also treatment options such as lifestyle changes, snoring devices and surgery to ensure you can get a safe and comfortable sleep. (source)

Who Does Snoring Affect?

While snoring is common among both men and women, it is often a problem in overweight men. Although with both genders, being overweight can be also be a cause because it often leads to a larger neck circumference, therefore losing weight can help with prevention.

Snoring usually becomes more of a serious issue as people age, commonly after age 40. While snoring is common among adults, enlarged tonsils can also be a cause of snoring in children. (source)

How to Prevent Snoring

There are products available to prevent snoring which I will be going into more detail soon, however lifestyle also plays a major role so I decided to outline some lifestyle changes you can try as well. As mentioned earlier, weight loss can help prevent snoring among those who are overweight. It is also recommended to drink lots of water, because a well hydrated body keeps the nose and soft palate lubricated and less likely to become irritated by lack of airflow.

It is recommended to stay away from alcohol, however if you do indulge, try to stop drinking three hours prior to going to sleep. Smoking leads to a lot of congestion and nasal inflammation, so it’s recommended to quit. (source)

Products to Prevent Snoring

Luckily, there are also a variety of products on the market to help you get a good night’s sleep. There are also some products out there that are unfortunately not very reliable. Keep an eye out for products such as pillows, nose strips and nose vents, they claim to help prevent snoring but research is pretty limited as far as proving that they actually work.

So to make sure you know all the best options I’m going to outline only the most reputable devices that have been proven to work.

The Chin Strap

To use the chin strap, you wrap it around the back of your head and it works by keeping your jaw shut while you sleep. It’s important to find one made of neoprene or nylon because other materials may be uncomfortable or may irritate your skin.

This may benefit some people however if you are a restless sleeper, it’s a common complaint among consumers that the device actually slips off their face over the course of the night, which obviously defeats the purpose of the whole product.

On the other hand, they are a pretty budget-friendly product with the price range being anywhere between 20-40 dollars. It just really depends on whether or not it will suit the person in question.

Mouthpieces

To use the mouthpieces you simply put the device in your mouth in a similar manner to a mouthguard and fall asleep. Most of them mould to your mouth, which is definitely more convenient than having to go get a custom fit. The mouthpieces are surprisingly inexpensive as well, making them suitable for most budgets.

One common complaint that consumers had was that the mouthpiece hurt their teeth. It could also be a struggle to use one if you have braces. Basically this product works by changing the positioning of your jaw and tongue and help to keep your airway open.

CPAP Masks

The CPAP mask is mainly used for those suffering with more severe snoring and sleep apnea. It’s a pressurized mask that fits over your entire face as you sleep. The mask is attached to a machine which constantly pumps oxygen through your airways so that it stays opened. This is definitely more of an extreme treatment, but it is one of the most reliable.

Usually the biggest problem people have is getting used to the machine. It may be uncomfortable because it has to go over your entire face and some people have complained that the noise from the pump makes it hard for them to fall asleep.

They also are on the higher end of the cost range, however they are highly reliable and sleep apnea can be a serious problem, especially if you stop breathing for too long. Like I said it’s definitely meant to treat only the severe cases of snoring or sleep apnea. (source)

Conclusion

Woman covering her ears with her pillow next to snoring husband in their bed.

In summary, snoring can range from relatively harmless to severe and it’s best to see a doctor if you start to notice it affecting your quality of life. There’s a wide range of lifestyle choices that may increase the severity of your snoring problems, so it’s important to take care of your health by doing things such as exercising, losing weight if you are overweight, staying hydrated and limiting alcohol and smoking.

If you have tried changing your lifestyle but your snoring is still bothering you, there are a variety of anti-snoring devices available. Just remember that some products aren’t actually proven to help.

The three that are highly reputable are mouthpieces, chin straps and CPAP masks. Personally I think the mouthpiece would be suitable for most people and can be used for a wide range of snoring severities. It’s also the most cost efficient. As always, if you have any questions about snoring or snoring solutions, leave me a comment down below!

Snoring Solutions

  • Consult a doctor as soon as you notice snoring affecting your life
  • Make lifestyle changes such as losing weight, changing sleeping positions, limiting alcohol and smoking
  • If snoring persists, research different anti snoring devices that would be most comfortable for you

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