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Causes of Snoring

It’s a condition that’s more widespread than most, with a prevalence of almost 50% in some demographics. While it certainly isn’t a life threatening condition, it can certainly affect those around you and slowly impact your health.

Given this, many still aren’t aware of the more common causes of snoring. We explore some of them below. Note, the causes aren’t necessarily limited to these items listed and a person will often find that their snoring is caused by a combination of these various factors.

Mouth Breathing

Most peoples who breathe through their mouths when they sleep, as opposed to nasally, are likely to snore. This is because the structure of the nasal passage allows air to flow more easily over the soft palate. Breathing through the mouth causes air to hit this passage directly, causing vibration.


When you sleep your body’s natural instinct is to breathe through the nose. However when you have a blocked nose from sickness or just general environmental issues, you can’t get the air you need so you automatically begin breathing through your mouth. This can result in negative pressure on your soft palate and uvula, causing you to snore


When you smoke the tissue in your throat and your mucus membranes become irritated and begin to swell. This swelling and mucus creation can contribute to congestion, mentioned above, and make breathing more difficult, which causes snoring.

Although a problem with snoring if you smoke, probably won’t be your biggest health concern.

Alcohol or Certain Medication

Substances such as alcohol, sedatives and sleeping pills are muscle relaxants. Taking these before you sleep can cause parts of the pharynx and nasal passages to collapse more readily, which is what causes snoring.

During sleep, in some instances the depressive properties of alcohol can even cause temporary Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where your breathing stops for short periods of time.

Sleeping Position

This is one of the most commonly known snoring factors. It is widely accepted that you’re less likely to snore sleeping on your side than on your back.

This purely due to gravity: your soft palate and tongue will naturally fall towards the back of the throat in this position. This obstructs your breathing, which contributes towards snoring.

Weight Issues

Putting on weight in general will result in your body putting weight around the neck. Having too much of this can lead to decreased muscle tone around your airways. As this drops your airways will become narrower, one of the causes of snoring.

Prevention of this can be achieved without losing weight. you simply have to perform semi-regular neck exercises.

The Tongue Base

A good majority of snoring problems can be blamed on this. The tongue recedes slightly into the throat and blocks off the airways. And as air flows over the tongue and into the lungs, the tissue on the tongue vibrates and causes snoring.

This can be a particularly loud form of snoring but is also one of the easiest to treat.


If you have a respiratory allergy, such as the common hay fever, particularly during the dry months, it can cause a variety of symptoms which narrow or effect swelling in the nasal passages and the uvula. What causes snoring are these symptoms but to stop what’s behind them, requires medical measures to control these allergies.

SnoreMate - 18 Oct 2012