Snoring FAQs

The frequently asked questions about snoring

Snoring is more complicated than you might think. Because snoring is perceived as an embarrassing habit, it is not often talked about. Therefore, many people have questions about their snoring: what it is, why it’s happening and what to do about it. These are a selection of the most common questions people have about their nighttime noises …

Snoring is noisy breathing whilst you sleep. A narrowed airway disturbs airflow which causes vibrations in soft tissue in the back of the throat (uvula and soft palate) and the base of the tongue. Whilst not the textbook definition of a snore, a blocked nose can also create whistling or popping sounds.

Find out more about the origins of snoring

If your snoring is disrupting your sleep or your partner’s sleep, or has a potential to become obstructive sleep apnea, then it needs addressing. There is disagreement in the scientific world as to whether normal, habitual snoring (non-apneic) is physically harmful.

Snoring is caused by a combination of different factors which vary from person to person. The commonest reasons for snoring include:

There is no single remedy that works for all snorers. Finding a solution to your snoring requires an understanding of what is causing you to snore. Common snoring remedies include:

Explore SnoreLab’s recommended products and discover the 7 most effective snoring aids

There are several ways you can train yourself to sleep on your side:

  • Tennis ball therapy – tape or sew a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas to make sleeping on your back difficult.
  • Leaning against something to prevent you rolling over.
  • Specialist pillows that encourage side sleeping
  • Vibrating training devices – these work like a gentle snore alarm, vibrating when it detects that you are sleeping on your back.

A blocked nose is one of the main causes of snoring. There can be many reasons for nasal blockage:

Sleep apnea is a serious condition where your airway repeatedly closes during sleep, depriving you of oxygen until you gasp awake.

Not all loud snorers have sleep apnea. A true sign of sleep apnea is when the loud snoring suddenly stops and is punctuated by choking/snorting sounds. Loud snoring is often seen as a stepping stone towards obstructive sleep apnea.

Find out the 6 myths about sleep apnea

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, ask yourself if you experience any of the following:

  • Loud snoring with periodic choking sounds
  • Sore throat or headaches in the morning
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Lack of concentration
  • Mood swings

Before getting clinical tests, you can assess your risk with the STOP-Bang questionnaire and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. If you are deemed to be at risk of sleep apnea, you will often be recommended a sleep study. Here, your breathing, heart rate, brain activity, snoring and blood oxygen are monitored overnight. This is called polysomnography (PSG).

AHI stands for “apnea-hypopnea index” and is a measurement of the severity of sleep apnea. It gives a value for the number of apneic/hypopneic events per hour, which is where breathing fully/partially stops for over 10 seconds.

  • 0-5 events per hour – normal
  • 5-15 events per hour – mild sleep apnea
  • 15-30 events per hour – moderate sleep apnea
  • 30+ events per hour – severe sleep apnea

CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure” and is very effective in treating moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP does not give you oxygen, instead, it establishes a constant current of normal air that props open you upper airway to prevent it from collapsing. The devices consist of a generator connected to a mask via a hose. They come in different shapes and sizes so are suitable for many different people.

Yes. Roughly 40% of men snore, whereas only 20% of women snore.

Male airway anatomy is more prone to snoring due to an increased proportion of soft tissue and a predisposition to gain fat on the neck. Male hormones also enhance airway collapsibility whilst female hormones protect against it.

Breathing through your nose is healthier and quieter. It channels air smoothly, humidifying and warming the air whilst filtering out potentially harmful agents. Mouth breathing can predispose you to snoring as it compresses your airway, gives you a greater chance of inhaling allergens and bugs, and causes air to hit your noise-making tissues head-on.

Yes. There are some things we can’t help that make us more likely to snore:

Yes. Different types of snoring produce different sounds depending on where the obstructions and vibrations are. We are not yet able to use snoring sound alone to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea, but early studies have found that sleep apnea-related snoring has a higher peak frequency than habitual snoring.

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