What Causes Snoring?

And how do you stop snoring?

Snoring is a noise made by the vibration of tissue in the upper airway, i.e., your mouth, nose and the back of your throat.

Try this: Tilt your head back, open your mouth and pretend that you’re gargling. Feel that flutter at the back of your throat? That’s your soft palate, which is believed to be a significant contributor for the 80% or more of people who can’t stop snoring.1

One in four people have a problem with chronic snoring2 and can’t stop snoring on their own. If you’re sharing a household with a snorer, you know that if they can’t stop snoring, it will always be your problem too. On average, the bed partner of a snorer loses at least an hour of sleep every night.3 Because the partner’s sleep is interrupted so frequently, it isn’t deep and restful. As a result, they can be irritable, resentful, even unsafe at the wheel while driving. Sleep deprivation can also compromise the immune system and lead to low energy, decreased productivity and muddled thinking. Chronic snoring can even be a sign of a more serious health problem, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

A diagram showing how the uvula vibrates during inhales causing snoring

Eventually, the lack of sleep can cause the snorer or bed partner to move to a different room. Imagine the strain that can have on a relationship. Or maybe you don’t have to imagine it at all, because you’re already living with a loved one who can’t stop snoring.

1. Quinn SJ, Daly N, Ellis PD. Observation of the mechanism of snoring using sleep nasendoscopy. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci. 1995 Aug; 20(4): 360-4.
2. American Academy of Otolaryngology.
3. Beninati W, Harris CD, Herold, DL and Shepard, JW, Jr. The Effect of Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea on the Sleep Quality of Bed Partners, Mayo Clin Proc. 1999; 74(10): 955-58.