Snoring can be uncomfortable for both the snorer and those around them. Multiple factors contribute to your risk of developing snoring, and some of these factors are more serious than others. By making lifestyle adjustments, however, you can decrease your risk and your snoring symptoms significantly.
Generally, snoring is the result of airflow obstruction at the back of the mouth and nose. This obstruction is from the airway narrowing because of poor sleep posture, throat-tissue abnormalities, or clogged nasal passages. Preexisting medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea can cause this obstruction and lead to potentially fatal breathing complications.
Sleep posture is a common cause of snoring. Sleeping flat on your back, for example, makes your throat tissue relax. The tongue, uvula, and soft palate can strike against each other during breathing if you sleep on your back, making snoring much more likely. Additionally, issues with mouth anatomy can also prompt snoring. For example, some people (usually men) are born with unusually narrow airways. If you have a long soft palate, enlarged adenoids, or big tonsils, this can reduce the space in your airway and cause snoring. Similarly, structural defects in your nasal airway can also create snoring, such as a deviated septum or chronic congestion.
Being overweight is another major contributor to snoring. People who are overweight often have excess throat tissue that narrows their airways. Poor muscle tone in the neck and throat is also a concern in overweight individuals, as this can further impair breathing and make snoring more likely.
Alcohol consumption may also cause snoring, especially right before sleeping. This is because alcohol relaxes muscle tone in the throat and decreases your body’s natural defenses against airway obstructions. Additionally, tobacco usage and certain medications may also increase muscle relaxation and contribute to snoring. If you snore, see your doctor to ascertain what may be causing your condition and to determine the best course of treatment. He or she may encourage you to make lifestyle treatments like adjusting sleep posture and losing weight to alleviate your snoring.