Snoring occurs when the soft tissue structures of the upper airway collapse during sleep. This partial collapse can occur during any stage of sleep. When the throat tissues vibrate against each other, it produces the sound known as snoring.
This sound is a sign that the airway is partially blocked. It can come through the nose, mouth, or both the nose and mouth. Usually, the narrower the airway space, the louder the snoring sounds. A narrow airway can be caused by a large tongue, tonsils or excess fat in the throat.
Some people snore louder than others. Quiet snoring may not disrupt one’s overall quality of sleep. But loud snoring can wake the snorer or disturb a bed partner’s sleep. Snoring may also cause dry mouth or an irritated throat upon waking up.
Snoring can affect almost anyone.
Habitual snoring has been found in an estimated 24 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men. Both men and women are more likely to snore as they age. Men, however, become less likely to snore after the age of 70.
Snoring is more common in people who are overweight. There is a greater amount of fat in the back of the throat that vibrates during sleep. This excess weight can press down on the airway.
Pregnancy can also increase a woman’s chance of snoring. It can even affect children. An estimated 10 to 12 percent of children snore.
Snoring appears to run in families, but there are some ways to reduce one’s likelihood of snoring. Alcohol, drugs, muscle relaxers and tobacco products can all contribute to snoring. So avoiding these triggers can decrease the problem.