icon cross Understanding Snoring: Causes, Effects and Treatment Options

What is snoring?

If you or your partner snore, you are not alone. Approximately 40% of adults in the UK snore at least occasionally. Out of these, around 25% snore habitually or regularly.

There are many reasons why we snore. These can include issues with the nose, mouth, or throat. Other causes of snoring are being overweight, alcohol or sedative use, allergies, ageing, sleep position, and smoking. Often, snoring worsens with age as more tissue develops and muscles weaken.

Snoring is the sound that occurs when air flows past relaxed tissue in the throat, causing the tissue to vibrate as you breathe. Snoring varies in intensity, ranging from a mild snorting sound to a loud and disruptive noise. It can negatively impact both your sleep and the sleep of those around you.

Often, illnesses such as a common cold can be one of the causes of snoring to worsen, as it can further restrict the airways.

While it may seem harmless, chronic snoring can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, moodiness, and even health complications.


What is snoring? - Intus Healthcare

Causes of Snoring

Many factors can cause snoring and affect the severity. They include:

Anatomy – Certain physical features can increase the likelihood of snoring. These features include narrow airways, big tonsils or adenoids, a crooked or deviated nasal septum, or a long, soft palate.

Weight – Being overweight or clinically obese can increase the amount of soft tissue around the throat. This increases the pressure on the throat during sleep, causing it to narrow and restrict airflow.

Typically, a person who is obese and/or has a neck size above 17 inches is more likely to snore. Often, they will snore more loudly and more frequently than somebody of average weight.

Age As individuals age, muscle tone and elasticity decrease, making the airway more susceptible to obstruction. Around 60% of men and 40% of women over the age of 60 experience snoring.

Gender – Snoring tends to affect men more frequently than women. About 45% of adult men snore sometimes, while around 24% of adult women do.

Alcohol & Sedatives – Consumption of alcohol, sedatives, or muscle relaxants can relax the muscles in the throat, leading to snoring.

SmokingSmoking causes inflammation in the airway, restricting the airflow and increasing the likelihood of snoring.

Nasal Congestion & Allergies – Any allergy that results in rhinitis (runny nose) or sinusitis will cause the nasal passages to become inflamed. Allergies, colds, or sinus infections can narrow nasal passages, forcing individuals to breathe through their mouths, resulting in snoring.

Sleeping position – When an individual sleeps on their back it can cause the tongue to fall backward, obstructing the airway. In the cases where the individual also has Sleep Apnoea, this obstruction will cause Apnoea’s (breathing pauses).

Pregnancy – The physical and hormonal changes in the body because of pregnancy can increase the likelihood of snoring.

Snoring Statistics

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    of the UK adult population snore

  • 0 m

    snorers in the UK

  • 0 %

    of men in the UK admit to snoring

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    of women admit to snoring

  • 0 in 10

    people who snore have Sleep Apnoea

Identifying Mouth Breathing

Determining whether an individual is a mouth breather can help identify potential causes and exacerbating factors for snoring. Look for the following signs:

  • Dry mouth: Waking up with a dry mouth and throat can be an indication of mouth breathing
  • Bruxism: Teeth grinding at night is more likely in those who snore.
  • Open mouth: If the person is frequently found with an open mouth during sleep, it suggests mouth breathing.
  • Bad breath: Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be an indication of snoring. Snoring isn’t directly responsible for bad breath. However, the reasons behind snoring, like breathing through the mouth, which decreases saliva, nasal drip, not taking good care of teeth, and Sleep Apnoea, can lead to bad breath.
  • Waking up tired: Chronic snoring can result in insufficient sleep duration and poor sleep quality. When you don’t get enough restful sleep, it can lead to daytime sleepiness, mental fatigue, and difficulty focusing. Waking up tired can also be an indication that your snoring is more serious and could be a sign that you have Sleep Apnoea.
  • Brain fog: Brain fog may signal snoring, particularly when linked with poor sleep or sleep disorders. Snoring can disrupt sleep, causing brief wake-ups and hindering deep sleep. This can lead to grogginess and mental fog due to fragmented sleep and, if chronic, to oxygen deprivation and sleep deprivation.

Health Conditions That Contribute to Snoring

Sleeping with an open mouth happens when your nasal passages are blocked. Your body’s automatic reaction to nasal blockages is to breathe through your mouth. Several conditions that can cause consistent mouth breathing include:

What causes snoring in females?

Although women snoring is less likely than men, it is still common. Here are a few reasons why women snore:

  • Menopause: Hormonal changes can cause weight gain and fat to move to the neck, making snoring worse or causing it. During menopause , the muscles in the upper airway can weaken because of lower oestrogen and progesterone levels. When muscle tone decreases, the airway may become narrower when lying down, making it harder to breathe.
  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations occur in the body. Increased levels of oestrogen and progesterone can lead to relaxation and swelling of the tissues, including the throat and nasal passages. In addition, many pregnant women experience nasal congestion due to increased blood flow to the mucous membranes and hormonal changes. These factors can both narrow the airway, potentially leading to snoring.
  • Thyroid Disorders: Hormonal imbalances associated with thyroid disorders, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can affect metabolism and contribute to weight gain or loss, which in turn can impact snoring.
  • Weight gain: Weight gain can result in the accumulation of fatty tissues around the neck and throat. This extra tissue can obstruct the airway during sleep and contribute to snoring.

Snoring while pregnant is normal, but it’s important to tell the difference between pregnancy snoring and sleep disorders like Sleep Apnoea. If you snore and feel tired during the day, it is recommended to see a doctor. This is especially important if you have trouble breathing while sleeping or experience other worrying symptoms. The doctor may conduct more tests or suggest a sleep study to assess your condition further.

Treating snoring naturally

There are plenty of natural ways to reduce or stop snoring. Here are a few things you can try:

  1. Sleep on your side: Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of your throat, leading to snoring. Try sleeping on your side to see if it helps reduce your snoring.
  2. Lose weight: Being overweight can contribute to snoring, so losing weight may help reduce or eliminate your snoring.
  3. Avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine: These are sedatives that relax the muscles in your throat, which can lead to snoring. Avoiding or taking these substances in moderation may help reduce your snoring.
  4. Treat allergies: Allergies can cause congestion in your nose and throat, leading to snoring. Try using over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications to treat your allergies and reduce snoring. Keeping your home clean and free of irritants will help reduce allergy symptoms
  5. Pillows and bedding: Special pillows and bedding designed to keep the head and neck in a proper position may help reduce snoring. If you suffer from allergies, you may need to replace feather pillows with synthetic fibre.
  6. Lifestyle changes: If your BMI is over 25, losing weight can help reduce the intensity of your snoring. Reducing your weight may prevent your snoring entirely.

Does snoring indicate a health problem?

If you have tried these treatment options and it does not help to reduce your snoring, or if your snoring is severe, or you experience choking in your sleep, you should seek further advice. In some cases, snoring may be a sign of an underlying condition, such as Sleep Apnoea, which requires medical treatment.

Best Anti-Snoring Devices UK

Anti-snoring devices’ effectiveness varies depending on the cause and the person using them. Some people may find that certain devices work well for them, while others may not experience much improvement. Anti-snoring devices that are available include:

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs): Are mouthpieces worn at night to keep the airway open by holding the lower jaw slightly forward to help keep the airway open. Mandibular Advancement Devices can be used to treat snoring and mild and moderate Sleep Apnoea.

Nasal strips: These adhesive strips are placed on the outside of the nose to help open the nostrils and improve airflow.

Positional Sleep Therapy: A positional sleep therapy device is a great option for those who only snore when lying on their back. The Positional Sleep Therapy Trainer is worn each evening and vibrates when the wearer rolls over onto their back. The vibration encourages them to roll back over. They are often in the form of a pillow, belt or small forehead device.

Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs): These mouthpieces hold the tongue forward to help position the airway open.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines: CPAP machines deliver a continuous flow of air through a CPAP mask to help keep the airway open. The most common type of machine used in the UK is an automatic CPAP machine. Please note in order to use a CPAP machine you must provide confirmation of Sleep Apnoea through a sleep test.

Nasal irrigation: If you have nasal congestion, try using a saline nasal spray, a nasal irrigator or a humidifier to keep your nasal passages open and reduce snoring. The SinuPulse Elite Nasal Irrigator uses a natural saline solution to clear your sinuses and nasal passages in minutes.

Humidification: Dry air can irritate the tissues in your throat and lead to snoring. Using a humidifier can help keep the air moist and reduce snoring.

Not all devices for stopping snoring are effective for everyone. As a result, you may need to experiment with different devices to find the one that works best for you. We offer a selection of anti-snoring devices on our website, to suit as many snorers as possible.

Snoring and Sleep Apnoea

While snoring can be a minor annoyance for some people, it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition, such as Sleep Apnoea.

Around 1 in 10 people who snore have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Being told that you snore may be embarrassing, but in most cases, snoring is harmless to the snorer and mostly an annoyance to the listener. However, if you experience any or all of these other symptoms, then it could be more serious:

  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Lack of concentration
  • You have been told you choke or stop breathing during sleep
  • You have a BMI above 25
  • Have a recessed jaw or deviated septum
  • Need to urinate frequently at night

These problems are indicators that you or your partner might have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. OSA is a sleep disorder, where a person’s airway regularly closes, and they stop breathing during sleep. These regular interruptions disrupt sleep, causing the person to wake up not feeling refreshed and often tired throughout the day.

Snoring FAQ

Is snoring a sign of a more serious condition?

In some cases, snoring can be a symptom of a more serious sleep disorder called Sleep Apnoea. Sleep Apnoea is characterised by pauses in breathing during sleep and can lead to significant health risks if left untreated. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect Sleep Apnoea or have concerns about your snoring.

Are there any natural remedies or home remedies for snoring?

There are several natural remedies that may help reduce snoring. These include maintaining a healthy weight, sleeping on your side, elevating the head of the bed, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, practicing good sleep hygiene, and using nasal strips or nasal dilators to improve airflow through the nostrils.

Do anti-snoring devices, such as nasal strips or mouthguards, work?

Anti-snoring devices can be effective for some individuals. Nasal strips improve breathing by opening the nose. Mouth-guards or MADs reposition the jaw to prevent the tongue from obstructing the airway. However, the effectiveness of these devices varies from person to person, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you.

Can weight loss help reduce snoring?

Weight loss can often reduce snoring, particularly if excess weight contributes. Losing weight can reduce fat around the neck and throat, making it less likely to have breathing problems during sleep.

Is snoring worse in winter?

Yes the lack of humidity can result in snoring. Air is drier in the winter, which can lead to dry nasal passages and sinuses. During the winter months, individuals are more prone to congestion, flu and colds, making a blocked nose mere likely. Using a humidifier can help reduce the risk of snoring as it provides moisture to the air in your room.

Why do I snore so loudly?

When you breathe, the air encounters resistance and causes vibrations in the tissues due to the restricted space. The more significant the obstruction, the louder the snoring tends to be.

Why don’t I snore when I am awake?

However, sleeping relaxes your muscles, which can narrow or block your airway As a result, the air flows more smoothly through your throat when you are awake, and you are less likely to snore.

However, when you sleep, your muscles relax, which can cause your airway to narrow or become blocked. This results in snoring.

Why have I started snoring?

The development of snoring can be triggered by a change in weight, facial anatomy, allergies, higher consumption of alcohol and the development of smoking.

WatchPAT In Home Sleep Apnoea Test | Intus Healthcare

How do I know if I have Sleep Apnoea or just snoring?

If you have symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, then an In-Home Sleep Test provides a quick, convenient and affordable way to have it confirmed. Within two weeks you could be able to begin treatment and enjoying deep, restorative sleep again. All studies are independently analysed by experienced NHS-qualified sleep professionals, and use the WatchPAT recording device for unrivalled accuracy.

Our service is tailored for people who suspect they have Sleep Apnoea, and want to have it confirmed quickly. You must have a BMI below 45 and be aged over 18 years to take this test.