According to the National Sleep Foundation, over 90 million American adults snore. You are more likely to snore if you are male and overweight, but snoring can also be a problem for women and thin people. Snoring can cause many problems and disrupt sleep for both the person snoring and the bed partner, which can lead to excessive sleepiness throughout the day.
What is snoring?
While you sleep, your throat relaxes and your tongue shifts to the back of your throat. This narrows your airway and causes the tissue in your throat to vibrate, creating the snoring sound. The more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This causes tissue vibration to increase, which causes your snoring to grow louder.
What causes snoring?
There are many factors which can contribute to snoring, including:
- Your mouth and throat anatomy. Having a low, thick soft palate can narrow your airway. People who are overweight may have extra tissues in the back of their throats that may narrow their airways. Likewise, if the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula) is elongated, airflow can be obstructed and vibration increased.
- Alcohol consumption. Snoring can also be brought on by consuming too much alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and can create blockages.
- Nasal problems. Chronic nasal congestion or a deviated nasal septum may contribute to your snoring.
- Sleep position. Snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when sleeping on the back as gravity’s effect on the throat narrows the airway
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Snoring may also be associated with obstructive sleep apnea. In this serious condition, your throat tissues partially or completely block your airway, preventing you from breathing.