Snoring happens when parts of the throat vibrate while you are sleeping. It indicates that something is interfering with breathing. While snoring is common, and often frustrating for the household, it can be a sign of a more serious health problem.
Why do I snore?
There are many reasons why people snore. These include:
- drinking alcohol
- being overweight or obese
- a cold, sinus or allergy problems
- sleeping on your back
- breathing through the mouth
- being born with a smaller airway than normal
If you snore and are often sleepy during the day, you may have obstructive sleep apnoea. Obstructive sleep apnoea happens when breathing is either stopped or reduced during sleep because of a narrowing or blockage of the upper airway. It causes loud snoring and occasional apnoea (stopping breathing).
Obstructive sleep apnoea is a serious health problem that needs attention. Apart from making you tired, it can reduce your concentration and increase your risk of health problems including high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart attack. It can also lead to motor accidents because drivers fall asleep.
If your child is snoring, it maybe because their tonsils are enlarged or they are overweight.
You should talk to a doctor if your snoring is irritating you and your household, or you wake up gasping or choking. In some cases, they may recommend an overnight sleep study to check for causes.
How can I stop?
There are many different things you can try to stop storing. Avoiding alcohol close to bedtime, sleeping on your side, treating allergies, losing weight and increasing exercise can help. Nasal strips or other devices to keep your mouth open or tongue positioned properly while you’re asleep may help. In specific cases, surgery may be required.
If your snoring is caused by sleep apnoea, you may need a device that blows air into your nose or mouth while you’re sleeping. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea. It involves a pump connected to a mask that you wear at night to keep your airways open. There are different masks that can cover your nose, mouth, or nose and mouth. The Australian Sleep Foundation has more information about CPAP.
If your child snores because they have enlarged tonsils, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove their adenoids and tonsils.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: August 2020