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Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your overall health. Sometimes certain conditions, like snoring, can make restful sleep for you and your household members difficult. The expert staff at Banner Health is here to help address any sleep issues you may have to ensure you’re well rested and healthy.

What is Snoring?

Snoring is described as the harsh sound that happens when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat and causes the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. Snoring can happen to everyone on occasion, but for some people snoring is a chronic problem and can sometimes indicate a serious health condition.

Symptoms of Snoring

Snoring can often be associated with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts throughout the night. While not all snorers have sleep apnea, if your snores are accompanied by any of the following sleep apnea symptoms, talk to your doctor to seek further evaluation:

  • Breathing pauses during sleep
  • Gasping or choking at night
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restless sleep
  • Sore throat upon waking
  • High blood pressure
  • Loud snoring that disrupts your partner’s sleep
  • Atrial fibrillation

These symptoms can also cause a person to sleep lightly due to the disruptions during sleep. The pattern of breathing pauses can be repeated many times during the night.

Snoring in children can also cause poor attention span, behavioral issues or poor performance in school.

What Causes Snoring?

When the body moves from light sleep to deep sleep, the muscles on the roof of your mouth, tongue and throat relax. Relaxation in the throat can cause partial blockage of your airway, resulting in vibrations that cause snores. The volume of a person’s snores depends on the narrowness of the airway. The narrower the passage, the more forceful airflow becomes, thus increasing the tissue vibration, causing loud snores.

Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors, such as weight, allergies, your sleep position, your mouth anatomy or other conditions such as:

Nasal Problems

A deviated septum or chronic nasal congestion can contribute to snoring.

Mouth Anatomy

A low, thick, soft palate can narrow your airway. People who are overweight may also have extra tissue in the back of their throat that can narrow the airways. Additionally, if the uvula (triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate) is elongated, it can cause airflow obstruction and vibration.

Sleep Position

People who sleep on their backs experience more frequent and loud snoring due to the narrowing of the airway caused by gravity’s effect on the throat.

Alcohol Consumption

Too much alcohol consumption before bed can cause snoring. This is because alcohol relaxes your throat muscles and decreases the body’s natural defenses against airway obstruction.

Sleep Deprivation

Not getting enough sleep can also contribute to more throat relaxation than normal.


Being overweight or obese is linked to snoring and sleep apnea.


Men are more likely than women to snore or have sleep apnea.

Family History

Having a family history of snoring or sleep apnea can contribute to snoring.

When to Seek Care for Snoring

If you’re suffering from any of the symptoms of snoring, talk to your doctor as they can work with you to determine the cause of your snoring. It is important to diagnose more serious conditions, like sleep apnea, which can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and abnormal heartbeats.

Talk to your child’s pediatrician if they’re snoring. Children can also suffer from sleep apnea or their snores can be caused from other problems, such as nose and throat conditions, enlarged tonsils and obesity.

How to Stop Snoring

There are several ways to stop snoring with easy, at-home treatment options. The first is to change your sleeping position. If you’re a chronic back sleeper, switching to sleeping on your side can help reduce the compression of your airways. There are special pillows designed to assist with side sleeping.

If sleeping on your side is uncomfortable, you can try propping the head of the bed by putting books under the mattress or using a wedge pillow to help elevate the head and open the airways. You can also try creating blocks, like sleeping with a tennis ball in your back pocket or using a pillow on your back, to deter you from switching positions onto your back.

Nasal strips are also designed to open up the nasal passages for easier breathing. Wearing one while you sleep can dramatically reduce the severity of snores.

If none of these at-home remedies help with your snoring, your doctor may recommend further testing and options such as dental appliances, tonsillectomy and possible surgery. Surgery for snoring depends on your particular condition and the cause of your snores. Talk to your doctor about what surgical option will work best for your snoring.

No matter the cause or severity of your snoring, the experts at Banner Health are here to help. Let us help you get a good night’s sleep.