What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is one of the most common sleep-related diseases in the United States.Unfortunately, it not only affects the person that is snoring, but also anyone in the same room or even general vicinity as the snorer. While mild cases of snoring may be difficult to diagnose from the snorer’s perspective, any loved ones with which they share a room will know immediately of the problem Today, let’s take a deeper dive into the basics of this condition: What causes snoring?

Snoring statistics

Snoring is an extremely common health condition in the United States. According to the survey, 36 million Americans are affected by regular snoring. This is roughly equivalent to one in ten Americans. In addition, approximately 90 million Americans said they were affected by snoring “occasionally”. In the worst case, approximately 26% of Americans report snoring almost every night.

Snoring does not affect all demographics of people equally, either. For adults, there seems to be a spike in the prevalence of snoring around the ages of 55-64. Within that category, 41% of Americans reported snoring most nights. Snoring frequency seems to drop with age; 41% of Americans reported snoring most nights. The frequency of aging seems to decrease with age. Among the 65-84 year-olds surveyed, only a quarter of people reported regularly.

Snoring Symptoms

For people who have experience with snoring, the symptoms may be obvious. But, there are many more symptoms of snoring than just the audible noise that an individual produces. Let’s take a look at several of them.

Noise and apnea. This is by far the most obvious and common symptom. It sounds like everyone is trying to breathe "relaxedly", and you may observe short, brief pauses in their breathing patterns.

Restless sleep. This symptom is a result of the intermittent waking-up that can occur as a result of intensive snoring. This symptom (and others) can be similar to those experienced by individuals who suffer from sleep apnea.

Tired during the day. This symptom can manifest itself in many different ways.For some, it means a lack of concentration at work or school. For others, it means feeling too tired to work out or participate in social activities. Regardless, a lack of energy during the time could be a sign of snoring that is affecting sleep quality.

Anatomy of Snoring

Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors, such as "the anatomy of the mouth and sinuses, drinking, allergies, colds, and weight." The anatomy of snoring broadly surrounds the tissues of your mouth and throat (the soft palate) when you enter relax during deep sleep. This relaxation can partially block the airway.

Mouth and Throat Anatomy. A large factor that can determine the severity (and even the presence) of snoring in an individual is due to body type and anatomy. The larger and thicker the tissue at the back of the throat, the more likely an individual is to snore.

Anatomy of the nose. Just as the mouth and throat play a role in hitting, so does the nose. People with chronic congestion are more likely to snore. Similarly, those who do not have a straight nasal cavity (sometimes called a deviated nasal septum) are more likely to snore. The reasoning is similar to the anatomy of the mouth and throat: airflow will not enter the lungs without breaking, and will "rebound" other tissues.

Sleeping position. The snoring-sufferers will realize that this is a very common reason. Sleeping on the back tends to further compress the throat tissue, causing more blows than sleeping on the side or stomach.

Alcohol can act as a depressant. And your throat is no exception. Drinking alcohol before going to bed can further relax the throat muscles, leading to an increase in the frequency of snoring.


The severity of impact on a patient’s life from snoring can vary greatly. For some, snoring is a minor nuisance that the snorer doesn’t even realize. For others, snoring is followed by a debilitating loss of energy and focus. Fortunately, there are several treatment options that your physician may recommend.

Lifestyle Changes
The first thing a doctor might suggest is to look at non-invasive treatments. This may involve changing diet and exercise to encourage weight loss, and approaching drinking before bed. Other suggestions may involve a more consistent sleep schedule and pillows to help you sleep on your back more often.

Mechanistic and Surgical Remedies
Often, excessive snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). If this is the case, your physician may prescribe one a few different types of devices to prevent snoring. First, they may suggest an oral appliance. The goal of this device is to align your jaw and throat to place in a better position to prevent snoring and encourage more consistent breathing. Secondly, your physician may recommend an OSA-specific device, like a CPAP machine, for treatment. These devices, continuous positive airway pressure machines, provide a steady flow of air into your throat and lungs thereby helping to prevent sleep apnea and snoring.