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Snoring is the sound you make during sleep when the flow of air from your mouth or nose to your lungs makes the tissues of your throat vibrate. This can make a loud, raspy noise. Sometimes people who snore also have sleep apnea. This means you stop breathing at times during sleep.
When you sleep, the muscles in the back of the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue, and throat relax. If they relax too much, they narrow or block your airway. As you breathe, your soft palate and uvula vibrate and knock against the back of your throat, causing snoring.
You may be able to treat snoring by making changes in your lifestyle and in the way you prepare for sleep. For example, lose weight if you're overweight, quit smoking, and sleep on your side and not your back. Or use a nasal strip over your nose to help you breathe while you sleep.
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When you sleep, the muscles in the back of the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue, and throat relax. If they relax too much, they narrow or block your airway. As you breathe, your soft palate and uvula vibrate and knock against the back of your throat. This causes the sounds you hear during snoring.
The tonsils and adenoids may also vibrate. The narrower the airway is, the more the tissue vibrates, and the louder the snoring is.
Snoring may be caused by:
Other things that may contribute to snoring include drinking alcohol, obesity, and medicines that relax you or make you drowsy.
Snoring can be soft or loud. If you have a bed partner, they may notice that you sleep with your mouth open or that you're restless while sleeping. If snoring keeps you or your bed partner from getting a good night's sleep, either or both of you may feel tired during the day.
Call your doctor if you or your bed partner:
Snoring is the main symptom of sleep apnea. This is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which you periodically stop breathing during sleep.
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. It may be okay to try it if your snoring doesn't disturb your bed partner or if you aren't overly sleepy during the day. If home treatment doesn't help your snoring, contact your doctor.
Watchful waiting may not be the right choice if you or your sleeping partner snores loudly and heavily, is restless during sleep, is sleepy during the day, or stops breathing when sleeping. These may point to sleep apnea. Contact your doctor.
If you have a bed partner, they may notice that you snore or stop breathing at times during sleep. Stopping breathing can be a sign of sleep apnea. If your doctor thinks that you might have sleep apnea, you will be referred for a sleep study to find out.
You may be able to treat snoring by making changes in your lifestyle and in the way you prepare for sleep. For example:
If you snore and have sleep apnea, you may be able to use a machine that helps you breathe while you sleep. This treatment is called continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP (say "SEE-pap"). In rare cases, surgery may be used to treat snoring.
Snoring typically is first treated at home. Here are some things you can do.
Many people who snore are overweight. Weight loss can help reduce the narrowing of the airway. And it might reduce or stop the snoring.
Drinking too much alcohol or taking certain medicines, especially sleeping pills or tranquilizers, before sleep may make snoring worse.
Go to bed at the same time each night, and get plenty of sleep. Snoring may happen more often when you haven't had enough sleep.
This may help stop the snoring. Try sewing a pocket in the middle of the back of your pajama top. Then put a tennis ball into the pocket, and stitch it closed. This will help keep you from sleeping on your back.
Raise the head of your bed 4 in. (10 cm) to 6 in. (15 cm) by putting bricks under the legs of the bed. (Using pillows to raise your head and upper body won't work.) Sleeping at a slight incline can prevent the tongue from falling toward the back of the throat. This helps keep the airway open.
Breathing problems caused by colds or allergies can disturb airflow and lead to snoring.
It helps keep your airway open. This could be a device that you put in your mouth. Other examples include strips or disks that you use on your nose.
This reduces inflammation and swelling in the airway, which may make the airway narrower.
Current as of: September 27, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffClinical Review BoardAll Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
Current as of: September 27, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review BoardAll Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.
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