Causes of Snoring

Noisy breathing during sleep is called as snoring. Daytime fatigue and heart disease are two most common adverse health effects of snoring.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Noisy breathing during sleep is called as snoring. Daytime fatigue and heart disease are two most common adverse health effects of snoring. Usually males and those who are overweight are at greater risk of developing snoring. However, it is a common problem among all ages and both genders.

Causes of Snoring:

The muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow and floppy while you sleep. As you breathe, the walls of the throat begin to vibrate leading to the characteristic sound of snoring. The narrower your airway becomes, the greater the vibration and the louder your snoring. In some cases, the sound may be soft, but in most cases, it can be loud and unpleasant. Snoring could be a result of sleep deprivation.
Sometimes the walls of the throat collapse completely causing cessation of breathing called apnea which requires medical attention. People who snore could have have obstructive sleep apnea which increases the risk of developing heart disease.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when breathing of a person is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea repeatedly stops and starts breathing due to lack of oxygen in brain and rest of the body. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of apnea caused by a blockage of the airway when throat muscles relax during sleep. When the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed, snoring occurs. Air flow can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:

Obstructed nasal airways:

If there is a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other, deviated septum occurs which can be a cause of obstruction for the airways in the nasal resulting in snoring. When the nasal septum between your nasal passages is displaced to one side a deviated septum occurs which can block one side of your nose and reduce airflow, causing difficulty breathing.
Nasal polyps can also cause obstruction. Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. Larger growths or groups of nasal polyps can block your nasal passages or lead to breathing problems.
Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection.

Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue:

Deep sleep, alcohol consumption, or use of some sleeping pills can cause too much relaxation of throat and tongue muscles that allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway causing obstruction. Aging also causes relaxation of these muscles. Therefore snoring is common in older adults.

Bulky throat tissue:

Being overweight or obese can cause bulky throat tissue which is another reason for obstruction of airways. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids can face the same problem and snore.

Long soft palate and/or uvula:

Uvula is the dangling tissue in back of the mouth. The opening from the nose to the throat will be narrowed when the soft palate or uvula is longer then normal. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.
Weight-loss surgery, surgery to remove enlarged tonsils or adenoids and surgery of deviated nasal septum are some of the other types of surgery that may help reduce snoring by clearing or enlarging air passages.
Regular exercise, loosing excess weight, avoiding alcohol and certain medications such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, sleeping on your side or abdomen rather than on your back, keeping your nasal passages open at night and quit smoking are
some of the helpful tips to prevent snoring to some extent.


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