Why do people snore?
If you’ve ever been kicked awake by your bedmate for snoring too loudly (or ever woken yourself up with the sheer force of your snores), you may have started to wonder why people snore in the first place.
Or, maybe you’re not the snorer, but rather the person putting up with snoring that sounds like a lawn mower next to you in bed. You have our sympathies.
One or the other is likely since about 57 percent of men and 40 percent of women regularly snore. That’s a lot of people!
All smiles until the snoring starts…
Either way, it’s time to get to the bottom of why people snore. Hopefully, everyone will be able to sleep better at night knowing the truth about snoring.
What is snoring, anyway?
Everyone is probably capable of recognizing snoring when they hear it, but have you ever wondered what’s producing that sound in the first place?
The sound we all know as snoring is a product of air flowing past relaxed tissues in a person’s throat. It’s actually the sound of the tissues of the respiratory system vibrating with each breath.
If someone’s airway is partially blocked or narrowed, that can obstruct the free flow of air and cause the snoring sound. So what causes someone to have a chronically blocked or narrowed airway while they sleep? There are a few possibilities.
Causes of Snoring
One common cause of snoring is chronic nasal congestion. You may have noticed that people are much more likely to snore loudly when they have a stuffy nose. The reason for this is that the congestion can reduce airflow through the nose and lead to snoring.
There are also lifestyle-related causes of snoring like drinking alcohol, smoking, and using sedative medications.
Wine in bed doesn't seem like such a good idea anymore :(
Snoring might even just come down to your head and neck anatomy. People with deviated septums, for example, are more likely to snore than those without.
A more serious cause of chronic snoring is obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that makes a person’s breathing stop repeatedly while they sleep. People dealing with sleep apnea often snore loudly with the snoring broken up by moments of silence when their breathing stops. Once they start breathing again, it may sound like they’re snorting or gasping for air.
Since uninterrupted sleep is so important for our health, sleep apnea can be a significant concern. It’s associated with several other health problems including heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure. Luckily, there are various treatment options for sleep apnea like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices that can alleviate symptoms, including snoring.
At-home Snoring treatments
Even if sleep apnea isn’t the cause of your snoring, you may still want to try some at-home treatments to eliminate that annoyance.
One thing you can try right away is changing your sleep position. Back and front sleepers who snore may be persuaded to convert to side sleeping when they hear that sleeping on your side can reduce sleeping. Try a body pillow for additional support while you sleep.
Back sleeping: a recipe for snoring.
Practicing strong sleep hygiene can also go a long way toward getting rid of your snoring.
Maybe meditating and mindfulness are more your style. There are various breathing exercises you can try to stop snoring. Something as simple as practicing breathing through your nose can improve nasal breathing and reduce the likelihood of snoring.
If you try one or more of these at-home treatments and find that your snoring still doesn’t improve, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor. Snoring can be a sign of more serious underlying issues, so it’s worth checking out just to be sure.