This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Sometimes snoring can sound like a light rustle. Other nights, it would seem there was an actual buzz saw under the blanket. No matter what the decibel level is like in your bedroom, snoring is common all across the country. About 37 million Americans are frequent snorers, with men and those who are overweight responsible for the bulk of it.
But as common as it may be, it’s also a major deterrent to quality sleep, and a habit that can impact your energy the next day, leaving you weary and unable to fully function. Understanding the reasons people snore is the first step to a better night’s sleep. These five common causes can lead to noisy nighttime breathing.
As people get older, their sleep habits change. Some may find it takes longer to fall asleep and that the rest isn’t as restorative as it once was. Aging also impacts snoring, in part because the throat muscles and tongue tend to relax more during sleep with age, causing a vibration on the inhale which leads to snoring.
Nose and Throat Conditions
Certain physical ailments in the nose and throat can contribute to snoring. These may include a deviated septum (a condition that occurs when the wall that divides the nostrils is shifted to one side), nasal polyps (soft growths that line the insides of the sinuses), and enlarged tonsils, or adenoids. Suffering from seasonal allergies or a nasty cold can also bring on a bout of snoring.
If you notice that you or your partner snores more when positioned on your back than when resting on your stomach or side, then you’re dealing with a case of ‘side dependent’ snoring. The good news is that with practice, you can train yourself to sleep on your side or belly, which may reduce the likelihood of snoring.
A nightcap used to be recommended for a good night’s sleep, but it’s become clear that drinking before turning in for the night can be disruptive—and it plays a role in those who snore. Alcohol is a strong muscle relaxant, causing the areas around your throat and airway to slacken during sleep, resulting in vibration when you breathe. Along the same lines, if you take a muscle relaxant in the evening, it may contribute to more snoring.
Too many pounds can be a risk factor for many health issues, and it’s also a contributor when it comes to snoring. Being overweight leads to poor muscle tone and increases the tissue around the neck and throat, two causes of nighttime noise.