What are the Causes of Snoring?

Causes of Snoring

The causes of snoring have to do with airflow. The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structurs strike one another and vibrate during breathing.

The causes of nasal snoring are:

  • Poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat - When muscles are too relaxed, either from alcohol or drugs that cause sleepiness, the tongue falls backwards into the airway. This can also happen during deep sleep.

  • Excessive bulkiness of throat tissue - Children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore. Overweight people have bulky neck tissue, too. Cysts or tumors can also cause bulk, but they are rare.

  • Long soft palate and/or uvula - A long palate narrows the opening from the nose into the throat. As it dangles, it acts as a noisy flutter valve during relaxed breathing. A long uvula makes matters even worse.

  • Obstructed nasal airways - A stuffy or blocked nose requires extra effort to pull air through it. This creates an exaggerated vacuum in the throat, and pulls together the floppy tissues of the throat, and snoring results. So, snoring often occurs only during the hay fever season or with a cold or sinus infection.

  • Deformities in the nose or nasal septum - a deformity, such as a deviated septum (a deformity of the wall that separates one nostril from the other) can cause an obstruction of the airway.

Symptoms of Snoring

Well, we all know the number one symptom of snoring of course is the sound that you make! If you are lucky enough to have someone there while you're sleeping, they can tell you that.

However, for those that sleep alone, they may not know that they snore! A few good snoring symptoms to look out for are having a dry mouth in the morning and feeling tired after a good night's rest. You could try to tape record yourself through the night to see if you're snoring.

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Swanson, Jennifer. Sleep Disorders Sourcebook. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1999:199-200.