Why do people snore? 3 tips that can help

Ah, falling asleep to the sweet sound of a freight train… said no one ever. If you or your partner suffer from snoring, you know it can be more than just an annoyance—it can affect your sleep, energy, mood and more. So, what is snoring? And why does it happen? And what the heck can you do to relieve it? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Let’s get started.

What exactly is snoring?

Snoring is the sound made by vibrating structures of the upper airway, typically during inhalation. When you sleep, the muscles in your throat lose tone and relax. The relaxation of these muscles decreases the size of your airways, and this can cause airflow limitation and turbulence. So, the harsh, raspy noise we know as snoring is simply your breath fighting its way through a smaller airspace. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, which we’ll get into in the next section. But first, you should know that if you snore, you’re not alone. Thirty-seven million people admit they snore regularly!

It should be noted that snoring may be linked to sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). These do not always go hand in hand but if you have additional symptoms such as paused breathing during sleep, restless sleep, chest pain, gasping or choking at night, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, or memory problems, please be sure to talk to your doctor.

Okay, so what causes snoring?

It can sometimes be as simple as your anatomy:

  • The back of your throat can narrow your airway if it’s low and thick.
  • Having a long uvula can obstruct air.
  • Having a deviated septum can make it hard for air to pass freely through your nasal passages.

Other causes include:

  • A cold, nasal congestion or allergies can cause snoring by blocking airflow.
  • Drinking alcohol before bed relaxes your throat muscles, reducing airflow and causing vibration.
  • Sleeping on your back causes your airways to narrow due to gravity.
  • Being overweight can cause extra pressure on your airways.
  • Women who are pregnant may experience pregnancy rhinitis, which occurs when the nose tissues swell due to hormones.

Great, now what can you do about it?

Here are three different things you can do to alleviate snoring.

  1. Sleep on your side. This takes less pressure off of your airways. Now this may seem like an old wives’ tale but it’s tried and true in the sleeping community… sew tennis balls into the back of your pajamas so you’re forced to sleep on your side. Call it crazy, but hey, it works. You can also try using angled/stacked pillows to guide your sleeping.
  2. Lifestyle changes. Doing things like avoiding alcohol several hours before bed, losing weight, and avoiding smoking can all take the pressure off of those airways and allow the air to pass through more easily.
  3. Breathe Right® nasal strips. If your snoring is due to nasal congestion, give Breathe Right a try. They’re proven to instantly relieve nasal congestion for up to 12 hours, meaning better sleep and a better morning. Want to try them out for yourself? Snag a free sample.