Why do I snore?
A recent survey found that 40% of the population of England snore. Anyone can snore; but it’s more common if you’re aged 40-60. Men are two times more likely to snore than women, although women are at increased risk during and after menopause.
What causes snoring?
Snoring is caused by the vibration of soft tissue in your upper airway during sleep. When you’re asleep, your airways relax and narrow. If your airway is narrow, air has to travel more quickly to supply enough oxygen to your lungs. This increased speed reduces the air pressure within your airways. This causes the airway to deform or collapse and the tissue to vibrate. It’s these vibrations that are associated with the sound of snoring.
In the majority of cases, snoring is caused by a combination of areas in the upper airway and throat being blocked or vibrating.
Snoring can also happen due to congestion of the nasal passages. This congestion can be due to colds, allergies or a blocked nose and can reduce the volume of air reaching your upper airway. This reduction may be enough on its own to cause snoring or, if your upper airway is has already narrowed, it may make your snoring worse.
Evidence suggests that snoring gets worse when it’s left untreated. Snoring vibrations damage the blood vessels that supply blood to the muscles in your head and neck. If left untreated over several years, this may cause the muscles to weaken. If these muscles are weak, they can’t keep your airways open enough when you relax during sleep. These same vibrations also cause inflammation of the tissue of your airway and this inflammation can cause long term damage that is slow to repair – even if you take action to reduce your snoring.
Snoring can be a sign of a serious condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). This is where your airway collapses, causing you to stop breathing during sleep. You can read more about the condition on our About Sleep Apnoea page.
Is my lifestyle making my snoring worse?
Not all snoring is due to lifestyle factors. There are many different factors that can make you more likely to snore. But, you can reduce the effect these factors have by making some small lifestyle changes. The links below can help you to find out what factors influence your snoring and the changes you can make.