Lifestyle | Health & Wellness

Snores, Roars, and Bedtime Wars: Surviving the Symphony of Sleep – Snoring & How To Make It Stop

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for details.

According to studies and research at John Hopkins, approximately 45% of the adult population snores at least occasionally, with 25% snoring all the time. This can disturb the snorer’s sleep, as well as the sleep of their bed partner.

It is important to understand snoring and its health implications. Here is what medical doctors and science tell us.

Who Snores?

Man snoring.
Image credit Dusan Petkovic via Shutterstock.

Snoring is more common among individuals who are overweight, middle-aged or older men, and postmenopausal women, and tends to worsen with age.

Causes of Snoring

sleep apnea graphic.
Image credit Pixel-Shot via Shutterstock.

Snoring results from obstructed airways during sleep. Common causes include poor muscle tone in the throat, excessive throat tissue, or an elongated soft palate or uvula.

It can also indicate underlying health issues such as nasal congestion from sinus infections or allergies, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum.

Health Risks Associated with Snoring

Image credit ibreakstock via Shutterstock.

While often benign, snoring can signal severe health conditions, including obstructive sleep apnea, which Johns Hopkins sleep specialist Alan Schwartz, M.D., emphasizes as a major cardiovascular risk. 

Sleep apnea involves repeated breathing interruptions during sleep, occurring as frequently as 20 to 30 times per hour. These interruptions reduce oxygen levels in the blood and disrupt deep sleep, leading to increased cardiovascular strain and elevated adrenaline levels.

Types of Apnea 

3 fingers. I
mage credit via Shutterstock.

There are three main types of apnea:

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):

This is the most prevalent type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the muscles in the throat relax excessively during sleep, leading to a blocked airway and preventing air from flowing into the lungs.

2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA):

CSA arises when the brain fails to send the correct signals to the breathing muscles, causing interruptions in breathing.

3. Treatment-Emergent Central Sleep Apnea (also known as Complex Sleep Apnea):

This condition occurs in some individuals who are initially diagnosed with OSA through a sleep study. During treatment for OSA, such as with CPAP therapy, their condition can evolve into CSA.

These distinctions are crucial for understanding and treating sleep apnea effectively.

Consequences of Sleep Apnea

blood pressure.
Image credit Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock.

People with untreated sleep apnea may experience:

  • Irregular heartbeats
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • Greater likelihood of developing diabetes
  • Elevated risk of accidents due to fatigue

Research indicates that severe sleep apnea can significantly increase the risk of early death in middle-aged or older individuals. Fortunately, treatment with CPAP devices, which maintain open airways during sleep, can mitigate these risks.

What Is CPAP?

CPAP machine.
Image credit sbw18 via Shutterstock.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines use mild air pressure to keep breathing airways open while you sleep. Your healthcare provider may prescribe CPAP to treat sleep-related breathing disorders including sleep apnea.

Structural Issues: Septum, Tonsils & Adenoids

Doctor assessing woman's nose.
Image credit Rabizo Anatolii via Shutterstock.

A deviation in the nasal septum can significantly obstruct airflow, exacerbating snoring. Corrective surgery might be considered in severe cases.

Particularly in children, enlarged tonsils or adenoids can block airways, leading to snoring. Surgical removal might be recommended.

Sleep Deprivation from Snoring

Man snoring.
Image credit Prostock-studio via Shutterstock.

Snoring can significantly disrupt sleep quality and duration, impacting overall health. Adequate sleep supports recovery from illness and injury, and chronic sleep deprivation is linked to numerous health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. 

Moreover, sleep is crucial for mental well-being, affecting stress levels, productivity, and mental health, including risks of depression.

Optimal Sleep Recommendations

woman sleeping.
Photo credit: Ketut Subiyanto via Canva.

Most adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain good health.

Addressing Snoring

male doctor holding booklet.
Photo credit: Gustavo Fring via Canva.

If snoring affects you or someone close to you, consult a healthcare professional for a personalized treatment plan to improve sleep quality and address any potential health issues.

To maintain an open airway while sleeping, these self-help strategies are often recommended:

Avoid Alcohol

people enjoying alcohol
Photo credit: Denys Gromov vía Canva.

Refrain from drinking alcohol within three hours before bedtime to prevent your airway muscles from relaxing too much while you sleep.

Medication Caution

closeup of pills.
Photo credit: Ri_Ya via Canva.

Avoid medications that relax your muscles in the evening, particularly benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan). These are commonly used for anxiety and sometimes for insomnia, but they can relax the throat muscles and worsen snoring.

Weight Management

person with fat stomach.
Photo credit: Andres Ayrton via Canva.

If you are overweight, reducing weight can help widen your airways. Excess fat in the neck and throat area can narrow these passages, although not everyone who snores is overweight.


woman sneezing outdoors.
Photo credit: snegok1967 via DepositPhotos.

Allergic reactions can lead to nasal congestion and snoring. Effective allergy management can reduce snoring.

Manage Nasal Congestion

woman sneezing into hand.
Photo credit: 89Stocker via Canva.

For nasal blockages, try rinsing your sinuses with saline or use allergy medications to reduce dust mites and pet dander. A humidifier may also help reduce nasal tissue swelling.

Stop Smoking

breaking cigarette.
Image credit Gorynvd via Shutterstock.

Smoking worsens snoring due to nightly nicotine withdrawal and increased swelling in the upper airway. Even exposure to secondhand smoke can increase snoring.

Optimize Your Bedroom

Image credit Ground Picture via Shutterstock.

Ensure a quiet, dark, and cool environment. Use sound machines, blackout curtains, and appropriate bedding to enhance sleep quality.

Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support a proper sleeping posture.

Sleep Position

side sleep.
Image credit F01 PHOTO via Shutterstock.

Avoid sleeping on your back as it causes the tongue to block the airway. Try sleeping on your side, supported by a body pillow or with a small fanny pack filled with tennis balls attached to your back to discourage rolling over. Alternatively, elevate your head using an extra pillow or by raising the head of your bed.

These changes and remedies can be effective for simple snoring. However, if you suspect you have sleep apnea, it’s important to consult a doctor. 

Behavioral Adjustments

woman waking up in bed and turning her alarm clock off
GoodLifeStudio from Getty Images Signature via Canva Pro
  • Consistent Sleep Schedule: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s clock.
  • Pre-sleep Routine: Engage in relaxing activities, such as reading or taking a warm bath, to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

Have You Had A Sleep Study?

Sleep study.
Image credit t50 via Shutterstock.

Undergo a sleep study to accurately diagnose issues like sleep apnea.

Get Regular Check-Ups

male doctor.
Photo credit: khunkorn via Canva.

Maintain regular visits with a healthcare provider to monitor any underlying conditions that might contribute to snoring.

The Takeaway

Image credit – Yuri A via Shutterstock.

By addressing both the physical and lifestyle factors contributing to snoring, you can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall health. 

You Might Also Be Interested To Read