Snoring

Snoring is very common and usually isn't caused by anything serious. There are things you can do to help yourself if it's a problem.

Causes of snoring

Snoring is caused by things such as your tongue, mouth, throat or airways in your nose vibrating as you breathe.

It happens because these parts of your body relax and narrow when you're asleep.

You're more likely to snore if you:

  • are overweight
  • smoke
  • drink too much alcohol
  • sleep on your back

Sometimes it's caused by a condition like sleep apnoea, which is when your airways become temporarily blocked as you sleep.

How you can help relieve snoring yourself

Simple lifestyle changes can help stop or reduce snoring.

Do

  • try to lose weight if you're overweight
  • sleep on your side – try taping a tennis ball to the back of your sleepwear, or buy a special pillow or bed wedge to help keep you on your side
  • consider asking your partner to use ear plugs if your snoring affects their sleep

Don't

  • smoke
  • drink too much alcohol
  • take sleeping pills – these can sometimes cause snoring

See a GP if:

  • lifestyle changes aren't helping
  • your snoring is having a big impact on your or your partner's life
  • you feel sleepy during the day, or make gasping or choking noises while you sleep – you may have sleep apnoea, which can be serious if not treated

What happens at your appointment

Your GP will look inside your mouth and nose to check for any problems that might be causing your snoring.

It can help to bring someone with you to your appointment who can describe what your snoring is like, such as a partner.

Your GP may refer you to a specialist for treatment or further tests if they're not sure what the cause is.

Treatment for snoring depends on the cause

Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for you.

Possible cause Treatments
Tongue partially blocking the back of your throat a device you wear in your mouth to bring your tongue forward (mandibular advancement device)
Mouth falling open when you're asleep a chin strap to hold your mouth closed, or a device you wear in your mouth to make you breathe through your nose while you sleep (vestibular shield)
Blocked or narrow airways in your nose special devices (nasal dilators) or strips that hold your nose open while you sleep, or sprays to reduce swelling inside your nose

Surgery for snoring

Surgery is sometimes used to treat snoring if other treatments don't help.

But it's not widely available on the NHS, it doesn't always work and snoring can come back afterwards.

The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association has information about surgery for snoring.

Page last reviewed: 25/08/2017
Next review due: 25/08/2020

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