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Is Snoring Unhealthy?

This nighttime nuisance might be a sign of bigger health problems. Find out when snoring is unhealthy.

If you or your partner snore, you’re likely aware of how it can disrupt an otherwise peaceful night of sleep. While snoring might just be an occasional annoyance, long-term snoring can cause sleep deprivation or even be an indicator of another health issue. Learn all about the causes of snoring, how to tell when snoring is unhealthy, and possible remedies for chronic snorers—and get back on track to a good night’s sleep.

What is Snoring?

Snoring is noisy breathing while you sleep, which happens when airflow through your mouth and nose is obstructed or blocked. While snorers may occasionally wake themselves with this noise, typically partners are the ones to notice (and get frustrated by) constant snoring. Understanding the causes of snoring can help you protect your loved ones, identify possible root issues, and help keep them living a healthy, happy life.

5 Common Causes of Snoring

  1. Alcohol or sleeping medications. Consuming alcohol or sleep-inducing medicines, especially close to bedtime, can lead to snoring. These make your tongue and throat muscles relax so much that airways get blocked.
  2. Nasal congestion. Snoring is caused by blocked airflow through the mouth and nose, so nasal congestion is a natural cause of snoring. Using decongestants as needed can help reduce congestion and in turn reduce snoring.
  3. Sleep position. Sleeping on your back can cause snoring, as the tongue can fall backward and block airways.[1] Switching to a side sleeping position can lessen the severity of snoring.
  4. Over 20% of pregnant women snore during pregnancy.[2] This temporary habit is caused by changing hormone levels, which can cause mucus membranes to swell and create congestion.
  5. Sleep apnea. Snoring is one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition that restricts respiratory activity in the upper airway.[3]

When Snoring is Unhealthy

In most of these cases, snoring isn’t much cause for concern. However, it can be a leading indicator of other health issues. For instance, snoring could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition affecting three to seven percent of adults.[4] This disorder can cause people to gasp for air in their sleep due to small episodes of reduced or lost airflow. It’s disruptive to both the sleeper and anyone who shares their bed, and over time can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and a host of other health issues. There are a few risk factors for sleep apnea, including obesity, age, enlarged tonsils, and endocrine disorders.[5]

How to Treat Snoring

Whether your snoring is caused by a chronic issue like sleep apnea, or a temporary cold, or pregnancy, there are many ways to treat and manage its severity. Depending on the cause of your snoring, it’s usually worth trying some simple at-home remedies or lifestyle tweaks to see if self-treatment is possible.

Addressing acute triggers of snoring is fairly straightforward. For instance, if you have a cold, try using a decongestant before bed. If you notice that you’re often congested during sleep but not during the day, check your bedroom for common allergens like dust. If you’re a back sleeper, see if sleeping on your side mitigates the intensity of snoring.

Lifestyle adjustments can also help manage snoring by addressing some of the underlying factors that can increase one’s propensity to snore. For instance, if you or a loved one gained weight and began snoring around the same time, when you weren’t a snorer before, weight loss can help.[6] If you tend to have alcohol or another sedative a few hours before bedtime, try cutting it out for a few weeks and see if you notice any change in your snoring patterns.

Of course, the root causes of snoring can also be more severe and require medical intervention to identify and treat. If snoring persists regardless of these at-home treatments, or if you’re concerned about your snoring – or a loved one’s snoring – it’s always best to check in with a medical professional.

Doctors have access to advanced imaging technology such as CT scans and MRI machines that can be used as part of a sleep study. These medical tools can be used to accurately identify the cause of your snoring, so that you can address it with a targeted treatment plan. While sleep disorders like sleep apnea might sound scary, they can be easily managed with the right treatments and therapies.

You and your loved ones deserve a good night’s sleep that allows the body to rest, rejuvenate, and heal. High-quality sleep is a critical element of overall mental, physical, and emotional wellness—and if snoring is getting in the way, it’s worth exploring treatment options. It’s the first step on the path to peace of mind and a healthier, well-rested lifestyle.


Does snoring mean you are unhealthy?

Occasional snoring is quite common in adults and usually harmless. Snoring does not mean you are unhealthy, but if it affects your sleep quality, it can have negative impacts on your health. In some cases, snoring can point to underlying conditions, such as sleep apnea, that can disrupt your well-being.

What causes snoring?

There are a variety of causes for snoring ranging from benign to serious. Some common causes of snoring are:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Inflammation in airways
  • Alcohol or other sedatives
  • Body composition
Is snoring normal?

Research shows that nearly half of all adults snore occasionally. Snoring a few times over the course of a night is generally quite normal and nothing to be concerned about. Around a quarter of adults snore more often. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate anything abnormal, it can sometimes indicate a health issue, so it’s best to monitor it.