Snoring is part of the human condition – and more than half of us snore at some time or another. Moderate, rhythmic snoring is usually not harmful to your health, though it can be an annoyance to a bed partner or anyone else within earshot. But when snoring becomes more pronounced and irregular, it can interfere with deep, restful sleep, and it may be a symptom of a more serious health condition such as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.

  • The sound we call snoring is created when moving air vibrates soft tissues within the throat
  • During normal breathing, the force of moving air isn’t enough to cause these vibrations, but when you sleep, the muscles of the throat and soft palate—the area known as the roof of the mouth—begin to relax
  • This relaxation can create a constriction of the airway, which increases the force of the moving air
  • As this higher pressure air moves through the narrowed throat, those same soft tissues that caused the constriction may start vibrating
  • As constriction increases, so does the work of breathing, and the volume of the snoring

Snoring may also be caused by blockages of the nasal passages. Those with a deviated septum or a broken nose are more likely to snore, and congestion caused by colds or seasonal allergies may create snore-inducing constrictions or blockage.

  • Snoring often becomes more prevalent with age, and certain behaviors can cause or worsen snoring
  • Carrying extra weight can lead to increased snoring, because there is more fatty and soft tissue in the throat area
  • Having a “nightcap” before before bedtime can cause snoring, because alcohol will relax the throat muscles
  • Sleeping on your back allows soft tissues of the throat to fall backward and obstruct the airway
  • Eating large, fatty meals before bedtime can increase snoring