Snoring is caused by a narrowing of the upper airway during sleep. This can be due to large tonsils, a soft palate, a long uvula or excessive flabby tissue at the throat. All of these areas relax during sleep.
In other cases, nasal congestion from allergies or deformities of the cartilage between the two sides of the nose can contribute to narrowing of the airway.
By keeping the airway open, air travels more slowly, reducing throat vibrations and diminishing or eliminating problem snoring. Holding the tongue forward is one of the most effective ways of keeping the airway open during sleep.
However, the most common cause of narrowing of the upper airway is a tongue muscle that becomes too relaxed during sleep. When relaxed, it gets sucked back into the throat with each breath taken.
Because snoring occurs when air travels faster through a narrow tube than through a broad one, this rapidly moving air causes the relaxed soft tissues of the throat to vibrate. It is this vibration that creates the sound of snoring.
Common causes of snoring
- Supine body position (lying face up)
- Large tonsils, long soft palate or uvula
- A tongue that relaxes too much during sleep
- Being overweight
- Nasal congestion from colds, allergies or deformities of cartilage within the nose
- Consuming alcohol, medication or tobacco products within six hours of going to sleep
Who is affected by snoring?