Published On: Tue, Apr 10th, 2018

Why do people snore? All the causes including gender and health issues

Published On: 15th February 2019
Last Updated On: 16th February 2019

There’s nothing worse than being kept awake by your other half snoring (Image: Getty)

Snoring affects more than 30 million of us, reducing the quality of our sleep and often leaving us exhausted.

Did you know?

40% of the population snores.

58% of snorers are between 50 and 59 years of age.

40% of men are more likely to snore, compared to just… 24% of women

With National Stop Snoring Week this month, here’s how to deal with the tiresome problem.

Find out why people snore, the causes and how you can get a better night’s sleep…

Why do we snore?

The sound comes from vibrations from your tongue, throat, nose or other tissue inside the mouth as you breathe. Snoring happens because these parts of your body relax and narrow when you’re asleep, and your breath comes up against a blockage or obstruction.

What are the causes?

Men are more likely to snore than women (Image: Getty Images)

1. Your gender

The male voice box sits lower in the throat than women’s, meaning there’s a larger space left open in the airway. When the tongue relaxes during sleep, it will block only part of the airway, leaving plenty of room for air vibration, which results in snoring.

2. Being older

Decreased muscle tone in the mouth and throat can make obstructions to breathing more likely.

3. Being overweight

Fatty tissue on the neck can put pressure on your airways.

4. Smoking

Cigarette smoke irritates the lining of the nasal cavity and throat, causing swelling and catarrh.

5. Drinking alcohol

Booze causes muscles to relax more than normal during sleep, and also causes nasal airway irritation and congestion, which increases the airways’ resistance when breathing.

6. Allergies

Congestion in the nasal passages caused by an allergy to dust or mould, or by allergic rhinitis (hayfever), prevents you breathing properly.

How can snoring affect your health?

● Drowsiness

Getting a poor night’s sleep can result in feeling tired or drowsy the next day, which can affect concentration.

● Arrhythmia

Long-term snorers, or people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA), are at risk of developing arrhythmia, an irregular heart rhythm. OSA is when you briefly stop breathing during sleep, which can occur several times
an hour.

● Heart attack

OSA is also linked to cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, eventually leading to possible heart attacks. Clinical studies have shown that treating OSA with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), a ventilator you wear at night, reduces heart disease risk.

● Stroke

One study has found that the intensity of snoring is related to the narrowing of the arteries in the neck (due to fatty deposits called plaque) and, as a result, the risk of having a stroke.

● Depression

Tiredness due to interrupted sleep can affect your mental wellbeing.

How can you deal with it?

Often, simple lifestyle changes will help, such as losing weight, not drinking alcohol before going to bed, stopping smoking, or sleeping on your side rather than your back.

See your GP if these changes aren’t helping, or your snoring is having a big impact on your, or your partner’s, life. They may recommend one of the many products available which can help ease the obstruction to your airways:

If your tongue is blocking your throat…


You can use a mandibular advancement device (something you wear in your mouth to bring your tongue forward).

If your mouth falls open when you’re asleep…


You can use a chin strap to hold your mouth closed, or wear a vestibular shield in your mouth to make you breathe through your nose.

If you have blocked or narrow nasal airways…


You can use special devices (nasal dilators) or strips that hold your nose open while you sleep, or sprays to reduce swelling inside your nose.

For more information, visit the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association.

National Stop Snoring Week starts on Monday 23 April