When snoring is a problem

Snoring affects a lot of people. Almost everyone snores occasionally, and approximately one third of the population snores on a regular basis. Besides being a bother, it may be a sign of a medical issue.

Why do I snore?

Snoring occurs because of upper airway obstruction. The soft tissues in the upper airway vibrate when you breathe in and out. Snoring becomes louder when there is more obstruction. This can become a medical problem if you are not taking in enough oxygen due to the obstruction, or if you are not expelling enough carbon dioxide.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is when there is absence of breathing. Symptoms that might indicate sleep apnea include snoring that is so loud it bothers others and daytime sedation (especially after a full night of sleep). The daytime sedation can lead to falling asleep easily such as in class or driving.

Snoring reduction aids

If your doctor has already ruled out sleep apnea, then consider talking to him or her about other snoring reduction aids. Examples of a snoring aid are a Breathe-Right strip, to help clear your nasal passages, or medications to reduce nasal congestion.

Tips that may help with snoring

  • Avoid drinking alcohol right before going to sleep. If you do choose to drink, quit at least two hours before you plan on going to sleep. Alcohol can relax the throat muscles, and that flaccid tissue facilitates snoring.
  • Avoid eating right before you sleep. Eating right before sleeping has similar effects to alcohol.
  • If you smoke, quit. Smoking causes nasal and lung congestion. It can also limit the amount of oxygen entering your system.
  • Consider losing weight, if necessary. Weight loss has been shown to reduce snoring.
  • Try a different sleeping position. Some people use pillows to keep them on their sides rather than back-sleeping. There are also specially shaped pillows you can purchase.

Consider talking to a physician about your snoring. If you have tried different techniques and still experience problems, there may be other issues to be addressed.

University of Iowa students can schedule an appointment with a provider at Student Health and Wellness online through their MyChart account or by calling 1-319-335-8394.
Last reviewed: 
August 2017

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