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How to Stop Snoring: Causes, Cures, and Remedies

snoring keeping spouse awake
Snoring Keeping Spouse Awake | Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

Snoring is a common problem during sleep. If you snore sometimes, but it doesn't make a loud sound, then you don't need to worry because that's normal.

According to studies, about 45% of males and 30% of females snore every once in a while as adults. You may be one of them if it happens from time to time. However, snoring could be a serious cause for concern, if you frequently snore and wake up your partner.

Habitual or frequent snoring not just troubles the sleep pattern of others but also affects the quality and quantity of your sleep. It can lead to some serious health problems.

So, if you're here to learn how to stop snoring, read on. This in-depth article will guide you to explore the root causes of your snoring and the remedies that best suit your needs.

The Root Causes of Your Snoring

Not everyone snores for the same reasons. The causes differ from person to person based on a variety of variables, such as age, sex, biological make-up, nasal anatomy, drinking patterns, obesity, etc. So, to find a suitable solution, you must identify the underlying reason(s) for your snoring.

How does Snoring Happen?

Generally speaking, snoring happens when the airways in the mouth and nose become blocked. When a snorer breathes in and out while asleep, the soft tissues in their head and neck vibrate, producing the snoring sound.

obstruction of ventilation during sleep

Causes of Obstructed Airflow through Nose and Mouth

Airflow through the nasal passages and mouth can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:

  • Congested nasal passages: Smoking, sinus infections, or heightened allergic sensitivity may all cause snoring by clogging the nasal passages. Nasal polyps and other anatomic defects in the nose can also obstruct airflow.
  • Throat and tongue muscle weakness: Your tongue and throat muscles relax while you sleep, allowing them to narrow your airways. And when the airflow is blocked, the tissues near the opening vibrate and create the audible snoring sounds. Drinking alcohol before bed, sleeping pills, poor sleeping habits, and other sleep disorders can all cause this muscle weakness.
  • Bulky throat and nasal tissue: A person is more likely to snore if the tissues lining the throat and nasal passages are too loose or thick. Being overweight or unfit is often the root cause of such bulky tissues.

  • Snoring

  • Abnormally long soft palate and long uvula: If the soft palate (a muscular extension of the bony roof of the mouth) and uvula (a small extension at the back of the soft palate) are abnormally long, they can narrow the airways from the nose to the throat. Due to their unusual length, these structures can cause snoring by vibrating and bumping against one another.
  • Large tonsils: The tonsils are two tiny glands at the back of your throat. They serve to detect and fight infections. And they usually swell when they fight against bacteria or microorganisms. However, these tissues typically don't shrink back to their original size and instead stay enlarged. These enlarged tissues later narrow the airway and thereby cause snoring.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): OSA is a potentially fatal condition that causes snorers to wake up during sleep for breathing problems. It obstructs airflow through the nose and mouth. Louder snoring is often associated with severe OSA. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has already supported this association. According to the study, severity of snoring increased as OSA worsened. (1)

Other Potential Risk Factors

Other risk factors that may contribute to your habitual snoring include:

  • Smoking tobacco or cigarettes: Tobacco smoke inflames the throat and nasal passages, which gradually narrows of the airways, and eventually results snoring following breathing difficulty during sleep. A study in 294 men with sleep apnea published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reported that those who were smokers snored for a greater percentage of the night than nonsmokers did. (2)
  • Being overweight: Overweight or obese people usually have a large amount of fat around their neck, and as fat around the throat can narrow the airway, they are more prone to snore or have OSA. Studies suggest that individuals with a neck circumference of greater than 17 inches generally snore a lot.
  • Drinking alcohol: While you're asleep, alcohol depresses a specific region of your brain, which involves in regulating respiration. This action can desperately relax your throat and tongue muscles, and increase the narrowing of your airways.
  • Consuming sleeping or sedative pills: In some people with snoring problem, intake of sleeping medications produces somewhat similar effects like drinking alcohol following the same mechanism -- by relaxing the muscles surrounding the throat and tongue.
  • Being a man: Men have narrower airways than have women, and this structural difference makes them more likely to snore or have OSA.

Cures, Solutions, and Remedies to Stop Your Snoring

You can choose from many different treatment options to stop snoring, including lifestyle changes, anti-snoring devices, surgery, and medications.

If your condition isn't severe, making lifestyle changes may be the best option for you. However, a lot of people often start with anti-snoring products, but sadly, most of those items aren't that helpful.

But it's not that they are totally useless! Some anti-snoring devices do help stop snoring. Finding the right one, however, can be challenging. Also, not everyone snores for the same reasons, so what worked for others might not work for you.

Because of this, the first step in stopping your snoring should be to identify and address the underlying cause. For that, you may need your partner's help to monitor your snoring. A careful observation of your snoring pattern while asleep can help you identify when you snore, why you snore, and what makes it worse.

Understand How You Sleep to Discover Why You Snore

While you're asleep, the different ways you sleep and your sleep positions can play a big part in your snoring. Sleeping ways and positions that may contribute to snoring include:

  • Open mouth snoring: Indicates a possible relation with your throat tissues.
  • Close mouth snoring: Directs to a likely problem related to your tongue.
  • Snoring on your back: Usually points to mild snoring if it's the only position you snore.
  • Snoring in all positions: Mean your snoring is actually severe or you have OSA, and you need an immediate medical attention.

Lifestyle Changes and Home Remedies to Stop Snoring

Snoring isn't often considered a medical condition, except when it is associated with obstructive sleep apnea. To stop your snoring, you can do many things on your own. Lifestyle changes and home remedies are two of the most effective options you can try if you want a long lasting solution for your snoring.

Lifestyle Changes to Stop Snoring

To treat your snoring, your doctor or GP initially will advise you to make some lifestyle changes, which may include:

  • Lose weight, if you have gained extra fats around your neck.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and sleeping or sedative pills before bed.
  • Perform regular exercise.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Give up smoking.
  • Establish a regular routine for sleeping.

Home Remedies to Help Stop Snoring

You can use a number of home remedies to reduce the severity, frequency and loudness of your snoring.

  • Sleep on your side. When you're lying on your back, the muscles of your throat and tongue relax and results narrowing of the airways. To avoid obstructing the airflow, make a habit of sleeping on your right side. However, if you find it difficult to stay in your position during sleep, use the tennis ball trick to avoid sleeping on your back.
  • Elevate the head of your bed. Elevating the head of your bed 4 inches to 6 inches using bricks or solid stuff may help you to breathe ease and reduce snoring during sleep.
  • Keep the nasal passages clear. If you're having breathing problems for a stuffy nose, keep your nasal passages clear. Treat your breathing problems promptly, because a stuffy nose not only makes the inhalation difficult but also creates an empty space in your throat, which eventually leads to snoring. Try using nasal strips or disks, or a preservative free nasal saline to keep the airflow uninterrupted.
  • Treat nasal congestion or obstruction promptly. Suffering with seasonal allergies or having a deviated septum can congest your nose and obstruct smooth airflow through the nose. Try using medicines like decongestants and nasal corticosteroid sprays. These medicines can open the air passage, allowing an uninterrupted airflow, and may decrease snoring. However, oral or spray decongestants must be used for a short duration unless your doctor advised you to continue.
  • Keep the bedroom air moist. The membranes of the nose and throat are usually very sensitive when exposed to dry air and often, dry air irritates the membranes, which in turn causes narrowing of air passages. Try using a humidifier to keep your bedroom moist.
  • Perform throat and tongue exercises. Throat exercise has proven to be an effective way to reduce snoring gradually. As weak muscles around the throat and tongue can cause snoring, you may try throat and tongue exercises to strengthen the muscles. Curling the tongue repeatedly and pronouncing each vowel (a-e-i-o-u) for a few times a day loudly can strengthen the upper respiratory tract muscles and thereby reduce snoring. Try practicing these exercises for 30 minutes a day.

Alternative Remedies to Stop Snoring

Based on the clinical trial reports, alternative remedies that might help stop your snoring include:

  • Singing can improve the tone and strength of pharyngeal muscles, a group of muscles near the soft palate and upper throat. A randomized controlled trial published in the International Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery reported that daily singing exercise for 3 months significantly reduced the severity, frequency, and loudness of snoring in participants. (3)
  • Playing the didgeridoo (a musical instrument from Australia) is another alternative treatment for snoring. Regular practicing of this musical instrument can effectively strengthen the muscles of soft palate and throat, and thereby reduce snoring.

    A randomized control trial performed to evaluate the effectiveness of this instrument, published in the British Medical Journal, found that regular playing of a didgeridoo was an effective treatment for reducing daytime sleepiness and snoring in participants with moderate OSA. (4)

Medical Treatments for Snoring

If you've tried the alternative and self-help solutions but failed to reduce the frequency or loudness of your snoring, then you probably have developed a more severe condition. However, don't give up hope, because you can still try medical treatment.

Consult with a doctor specialized in ear, nose, and throat. Your doctor may recommend some tests to see whether you have a nasal deformity or developed OSA or other respiratory issues. Depending on the severity of your snoring, your doctor may suggest:

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

A standard and effective treatment for OSA but not so popular among people suffering from snoring. CAPA is a small pump machine that helps to keep your airway open while you're asleep. Using this machine involves wearing a mask over your nose as well. The pump machine blows pressurized air into the mask and keeps the airway open by forcing air through it.

Oral Appliances

These devices are front-line treatment for snoring. People who feel uncomfortable with CAPA often use these devices to keep their air passage open during sleep.

Oral appliances are somewhat form-fitting dental mouthpieces. They usually work by pushing the tongue and jaw forward in order to improve the airflow. A dentist specialized in sleep disorders molds an oral appliance to fit in a particular patient's teeth.

Oral appliances have proven effective for both severe and non-severe snoring. A clinical study published in the Clinical Evidence written that oral appliances were seemed effective in reducing severe and non-severe snoring. However, the study also predicted that these devices might not perform as effective as CAPA. (5)

Surgical Treatments for Snoring

Surgical treatments are considered as the last and final option for snorers who have tried just about all other treatment options but failed to improve their condition. For most cases of snoring, surgical treatments are used to modify the size of nasal passage by removing extra tissues or correcting nasal deformities. Surgical treatments that might help cure your snoring include:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This surgical treatment is often preferred when it's diagnosed that the soft tissue in the mouth is responsible for causing the snoring. To establish a smoother airflow through the mouth and nose, surgeons specialized in UPPP will increase the size of nasal passage by removing the uvula, shortening the soft palate, and eliminating some excess tissue in the throat.
  • Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP): An outpatient surgery that uses a hand-held laser beam to eliminate the uvula and shorten the soft palate.
  • Radiofrequency palatoplasty: In this outpatient procedure, the surgeon uses a low-intensity radiofrequency to shrink and stiffen the soft palate and uvula so that they are less likely to vibrate.
  • Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy: This surgical procedure can be used when it's confirmed that enlarged tonsils and adenoids are obstructing the nasal passage during sleep.
  • Nasal septoplasty: This surgical procedure is done to resize and straighten the bone and tissues that are identified as nasal deformities.

Medical Reference

  • Mayo Clinic Staff (2012). Snoring -
  • E. Gregory Thompson, MD (2011). Snoring -
  • Collop NA, Cassell DK (2002). Snoring and sleep-disordered breathing. In TL Lee-Chiong Jr et al., eds., Sleep Medicine, pp. 349-355. Philadelphia: Hanley and Belfus.
  • Strohl KP (2006). Ventilatory control during wakefulness and sleep. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 14, chap. 6. New York: WebMD.
  1. Maimon N, & Hanly PJ. (2010) Does snoring intensity correlate with the severity of obstructive sleep apnea?. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 6(5), 475-8. PMID: 20957849.
  2. Bearpark H, Elliott L, Grunstein R, Cullen S, Schneider H, Althaus W, & Sullivan C. (1995) Snoring and sleep apnea. A population study in Australian men. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 151(5), 1459-65. PMID: 7735600.
  3. M. P. Hilton, J. O. Savage, B. Hunter, S. McDonald, C. Repanos, & R. Powell. (2013) Singing Exercises Improve Sleepiness and Frequency of Snoring among Snorers—A Randomised Controlled Trial. International Journal of Otolaryngology and Head, 2(3), 97-102. DOI: 10.4236/ijohns.2013.23023
  4. Puhan MA, Suarez A, Lo Cascio C, Zahn A, Heitz M, & Braendli O (2006). Didgeridoo playing as alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome: randomised controlled trial. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 332 (7536), 266-70 PMID: 16377643
  5. Hensley M, Ray C (2009). Sleep apnoea, Clin Evid (Online). 2009: 2301

⚠️ Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.