Loud and frequent snoring can be more than just a nuisance to your partner. This nighttime annoyance may indicate a serious health condition, and it can disrupt your household and strain your relationships.

What is it?

Snoring is common. More than one-third of adults snore at least a few nights each week. Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe, creating hoarse or harsh sounds.

To restore peace and quiet as well as domestic harmony, lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or sleeping on your side, can help stop snoring.

In addition, surgery is available that may reduce disruptive snoring. However, surgery isn't suitable for everyone who snores. People with obstructive sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder characterized by episodes of loud snoring followed by periods of silence when breathing briefly stops, aren't always good candidates for surgery.

What causes it?

As you doze off and progress from a lighter sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. If the tissues in your throat relax enough, they vibrate and may partially obstruct your airway.

The more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. Tissue vibration increases, and your snoring grows louder. Snoring may be an occasional problem, or it may be habitual.

What contributes to snoring

A variety of factors can lead to snoring, including:

  • Your mouth anatomy.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Nasal problems.
  • Sleep apnea.

What are the symptoms?

People that snore may make a rough, rattling, noisy sound while breathing in during sleep.

Are there any natural therapies?

If snoring is caused by infection or mucous congestion of the nasal passages, it may be relieved by horseradish, garlic and vitamin C.

What else can I do?

  • Because you tend to snore more when sleeping on your back, one useful technique is to try to keep from sleeping in that position. One way is to wear a pocket T-shirt backward with a tennis ball in the pocket. You will be less likely to sleep on your back because it is very uncomfortable to sleep on a tennis ball.
  • Try losing some weight. As little as 5 kilograms might make the difference.
  • Avoid alcohol, especially in the 4 hours before going to sleep.
  • Avoid using sedatives and narcotic medications. Alcohol, sedatives, and narcotics cause relaxation of your throat muscles and increase the tendency for airway obstruction related to snoring.

Did you know?

  • The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea increases with age.
  • In people aged 30–60 years, 2% of all women and 4% of all men have OSA. Up to 60% of the elderly have the condition.
  • Most people diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea are obese. Increased neck fat is thought to narrow the airway, making breathing more difficult.
  • Men are 7-10 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than women.