Snoring happens when the soft tissue in your nose, mouth or throat vibrates while you’re asleep. Some people snore quietly, while others snore very loudly.
You’re more likely to snore if you sleep on your back.
You might also snore if you:
Have sleep apnoea – When you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep
Breathe mainly through your mouth
What causes snoring?
When you sleep your muscles relax, including the ones in your throat. This can cause your airways to become narrower.
Sometimes, part of your tongue, mouth or nose become so relaxed that it vibrates when you breathe in, causing you to snore.
There are four types of snoring, depending on where the vibration happens:
Multifactorial – Where the vibration happens in more than one area
How to stop snoring
You can’t consciously choose to stop snoring while you’re asleep. But you can make some lifestyle changes to make snoring less likely:
Manage your weight
Sleep on your side instead of your back – Use an anti-snore pillow to stop you from rolling onto your back
Give up smoking
Don’t drink too much alcohol
Avoid taking sleeping pills or sleep aids
How to stop someone from snoring
If your partner’s snoring is affecting your sleep, there are several things you can do to help them stop or to distract yourself from the noise.
Gently guide them to change their position – Snoring is often worse when someone sleeps on their back. Giving a gentle nudge to make them roll over might help, or encourage them to use an anti-snore pillow
Support them to follow the lifestyle tips above or to get treatment for snoring if those aren’t working – Lack of sleep can be disruptive and start to affect your health if it goes on long-term
Wear earplugs – There are lots of different types available that muffle the sounds of your surroundings
Distract yourself with white noise, music or a podcast Try a deep sleep playlist or a sleep-focused podcast to take your mind off the snoring noise
Sleep in a different room – This may seem drastic, but if it helps you sleep better, it can be a good solution
When to talk to a GP about snoring
Occasional snoring isn’t usually a sign of anything serious. If you snore regularly and your snoring doesn’t improve after making the lifestyle changes above, talk to a GP.
Snoring, gasping or choking during sleep could be a sign of sleep apnoea. This can be dangerous if you don’t treat it, so it’s vital to find out if that’s the cause.
It can be helpful to involve your partner when you talk to a doctor, so they can describe your snoring and answer questions about any snoring patterns they’ve noticed.
The GP might refer you to a specialist if they can’t find an obvious cause.
Snoring solutions and treatment
There are several treatments and solutions for snoring. A GP can help you find the right one, depending on what’s causing it.
Tongue snoring – If your tongue is partially blocking the back of your throat, you can wear a device in your mouth that keeps your tongue in a better position, called a mandibular advancement device
Mouth snoring – If you breathe through your mouth, you’re more likely to snore. A vestibular shield helps to keep your mouth closed, so you have to breathe through your nose. A chin strap works in the same way
Nose snoring – Nasal dilators or strips work by keeping your nasal passages open while you sleep. There are also sprays that help by bringing down any swelling in your nose
Multifactorial snoring – When snoring is caused by more than one thing, you may need help addressing each one. For example, hayfever can make your nose feel blocked, so you might get into the habit of breathing through your mouth at night, which causes snoring. Treating the hayfever might be enough to stop the snoring, or you might need treatment to stop mouth breathing too
Surgery for snoring
In severe cases where no other treatments have worked and snoring significantly affects your quality of life, a specialist might recommend surgery. This involves removing soft tissue from the throat – either the tonsils, uvula or soft palate at the top of the mouth near the throat.
Surgery doesn’t always stop someone from snoring, and even if it stops it for a while, it may start again
- Reviewed by:
- Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi