What Causes Snoring & How Do you Fix It

Snoring is a huge problem and according to statistics around 40% of people suffer from snoring. It’s a big problem! This article explores the causes of snoring and also offers some suggestions to fix it.

What Causes Snoring?

  • Snoring occurs when the air flow via your nose and mouth becomes blocked. There are lots of things that can lead to air flow issues and they are as follows:
  • Nasal airways are blocked: There are many people who only experience snoring when it is the allergy season or if they have a sinus infection. A deviated septum can also cause snoring and this is when the wall that is between your two nostrils is not centered properly or if you have nasal polyps that lead to airway blockages.
  • Poor tongue and throat muscle tone: Unfortunately, it is possible for the muscles of your tongue and throat to become too relaxed which causes them to collapse leading to snoring.
  • Throat tissue that is too large: If you are overweight, this can happen. However, there are some people and even children that have big adenoids and tonsils which leads to snoring.
  • Long uvula or soft palate: If you have a long uvula or even a long and soft palate, this can reduce the opening between your throat and nose. So, when you breathe, this leads to bumping and vibration which causes your airway to be blocked.
  • Usage of drugs and alcohol: When you use muscle relaxers or even drink alcohol, this can lead to the muscles in your throat and tongue getting too relaxed.
  • Poor sleep position: When you sleep on your back, this can lead to snoring. If you’re using a pillow that is also too big or too soft, it can also cause snoring.
  • Not getting enough sleep: In the event that you’re not getting sufficient sleep, your throat muscles may become too relaxed.
  • Nasal structural issues or a deviated septum can also lead to snoring: One way to fix these issues is to do surgery.
  • Growth or polyps in your nose can also lead to a restriction in your nasal air flow. These can also be fixed surgically.
  • Asthma or even allergies can cause your airways to become smaller which can lead to snoring. So, if you have hayfever allergies, then you may realize that you snore when its pollen season and other particular times.
  • Sleep apnea can also happen when your airways become so relaxed that they become blocked. This is quite dangerous since you’ll experience breathing issues while sleeping.

What is the reason why males snore a lot more than females?

There are lots of reasons why this happen but the main factor is the difference in biology. The voice box in men is located lower in the throat which results in more space being open. So, when you sleep and the tongue relaxes, the large space is only partially blocked which increases the likelihood for vibrations. Women on the other hand usually have much smaller throats and when their tongue gets relaxed during sleep, it will likely block the entire airway. This will cause them to wake up as oppose to snore.

Health Complications Caused by Snoring

It doesn’t appear as though snoring has complications. However, if you have sleep apnea, this can lead to many problems such as:

  • Waking up from sleep frequently, even if you don’t realize that you are.
  • Light sleep. When you wake up numerous times every night, this disrupts your typical sleep patterns. This means that you’ll spend a lot more of your sleep in light sleep as oppose to deeper sleep which is restorative.
  • Heart strain. When you have sleep apnea for a long time it results in higher blood pressure which can increase the size of your heart which would increase your chances of getting a stroke or heart attack.
  • Bad sleep at night. This can negatively affect your day since you’d feel sleepier throughout your day which would negatively impact your quality of life and the likelihood of getting into an accident would increase.

How To Reduce Snoring

Lifestyle Alterations

There are many people who use an anti-snoring mouthpiece, nasal dilator or even sleep on their side to reduce their snoring but find it ineffective. If that is your case, then you may want to look into making lifestyle changes.

Lower Body Weight

According to experts, the first thing that you should try to stop snoring is to reduce your weight. This is only for people who are obese or overweight. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, they have a chart which can help you figure out the correct weight and waist size according to your height.

Unfortunately, as many as 74% of Americans are obese or overweight. So, if you have issues with your weight, then you should try to reduce it. Persons who have a weight issue are much more likely to suffer from sleep apnea and snore. There is research which indicates that weight loss can greatly help reduce snoring and sleep apnea in overweight or obese persons.

Now, when it comes to weight loss, you should start in healthy ways. It is very dangerous to do crash diets since they typically don’t work for the long term and they are quite dangerous. Instead, it is best to consume a healthy diet and get more physical activity according to the Center for Disease Control.

Attempt Mouth Exercises

Besides eating healthier and exercising to lose weight, you should also try certain mouth exercises. These type of exercises are called oropharyngeal exercises and they are quite good at reducing snoring.

These type of exercises are mouth and tongue movements which help to increase the strength of your throat, soft palate and tongue. According to a study, when you do these exercises for three months, it can potentially lead to a reduction in your snoring by as much as 59%.

Avoid Smoking

Unfortunately, smoking can lead to more snoring. The opposite is also true when you stop smoking, it can reduce your snoring. Also, children whose parents smoke also snore a lot more. So, if you have kids and you smoke and your kids snore, then you should consider quitting the habit since this can help their snoring issues.

With that said, snoring is only a minor issue that smoking causes. Smoking cigarettes is the cause of 90% of lung cancer patients in the United States and a third of deaths caused by coronary heart disease. Also, smokers have a reduction in their life span by about 10 years.

Don’t Drink Alcohol Before Bed

Next, alcohol consumption increases your chances of snoring, especially if you sleep before bed. It can also cause obstructive sleep apnea in persons who don’t even have this issue. The effects of alcohol on snoring is dependent on the dose. So, if you drink a lot of alcohol, you can start by reducing how much alcohol you consume. If this doesn’t help, then avoid drinking at least a couple of hours before your bedtime or even stop drinking alcohol completely.

Medical Solutions

There are many people who snore because of medical issues. In cases like this, surgery can help to address it. A good example of this are persons who have an enlarged adenoid sat behind their nose which would need to be removed or reduced so that they can have better airflow through their nose and throat. In many cases, this type of procedure is a last resort.

Strategies used by partners of snorers

Snoring is certainly not a life sentence. There are things that cause snoring and this means that there are also solutions. Of course, the responsibility of fixing it mainly falls on the person who is snoring, however, the snorer’s partner can also help.

Figure out the problem

The first thing you need to do is let your partner know that their snoring is negatively affecting you. In order for them to stop snoring, they will need to undergo some changes. However, they likely won’t make these changes if you don’t let them know that it is a significant problem.

Lifestyle solutions

As mentioned previously, there are lots of lifestyle changes that can assist with reducing snoring in a natural manner. If you and your partner make these changes together, it can greatly benefit both of you, reduce snoring and strengthen your relationship.

If one of the reasons why your partner is snoring is due to high body weight, you should help them with losing weight. It is recommended that you support them by also eating healthy with them, exercising, preparing healthy meals together etc.

Another good way to reduce snoring is to do mouth exercises. Your partner may feel silly doing them by themselves, so you can support them and make it easier by doing the exercises with them. Meditation may also help with snoring

Prop

Another thing that impacts snoring is sleeping position. When sleeping on your back, this significantly increases the chances of snoring.

So, it is a good idea to get your partner to change their position by nudging and rolling them. However, if your partner prefers sleeping on their back, this will repeat throughout the night.

It is possible to prevent your partner from sleeping on their back if they use a device that prevents this. It is similar to a backpack or you can even use pillows so that they have a higher chance of staying on their side while sleeping.

Another option is to change both of your sleeping positions. One good idea is for you and your partner to sleep in a back to back position where you both prop each other on your sides. This prevents your partner from moving and rolling.

Observe

The causes of snoring are not always clear and they often require a good deal of investigation. As the partner of the snorer, you would be in a good position to assist your partner in figuring out why they are snoring and testing out different solutions so you can find something that works.

If you have recently noticed changes in your partner’s snoring, think about if there have been any other new changes in their health or behaviors. When you are the partner of a snorer, you’d be able to determine the differences in their snoring which they would not be able to observe.

How Deal with a Partner that Snoring

In the event that the solutions you both are trying aren’t effective and you need to sleep, there are sleep strategies that can help you to deal with a snoring partner.

Fall asleep first

If you usually take a long time to sleep, you should try to go to bed earlier than your snoring partner. Once you’re fast asleep, you likely wouldn’t wake up when your partner falls asleep after you and starts snoring.

Sadly, this strategy may not always work. Due to the nature of sleep, you are still likely to wake up to your partner’s snoring when you are in a light sleep phase. However, it is still a good tip to try and see if it works for you.

Sleep in separate beds

This particular solution has saved the marriages of many couples. There are many cases where couples have slept in separate bedrooms due to the snoring of one partner. Even though this is an excellent solution for you health and sleep routine, sleeping together with your partner is very important to have a happy and healthy relationship.

According to the sleep researcher, Paul Rosenblatt who wrote the book, “Two in Bed: The Social System Of Couple Bed Sharing”, he discusses the importance of couples sleeping in the same bed. He talks about how it increases comfort and intimacy within the relationship and the time just before sleep is great for couples to talk about their issues, solve problems, catch up with each others lives, make plans etc.

However, according to many couples, sleeping in different bedrooms doesn’t mean that these things don’t still happen. It is important to create time for one another before going to bed in different rooms.

Earplugs

This is a very simple but great way to deal with your partner’s snoring.

All you’ll need is a multi-pack of foam earplugs and you’ll be able to sleep in the same bed as a snoring partner. However, make sure that you find earplugs that are meant for sleeping in and are completely comfortable. They should also be able to allow you to hear the alarm when you need to wake up in the morning.

White noise machine

It may seem like a strange concept to add even more noise to the bedroom, but it can help to drown out or mask snoring.

This is because white noise has all the frequencies being played at the same intensity. This is quite similar to white light.

Keep in mind that it won’t block the sounds of snoring but it will mask it by blending the sound. When you play this before sleep, you likely won’t hear when your partner starts snoring since the sound profile in the room would remain consistent.