Home Health Why Do People Snore? The Science Behind It

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Are you one of those people who simply can’t stand someone snoring next to them and have difficulty sleeping when this happens? Or on the contrary, do people complain about you snoring and disrupting their rest? Regardless of the answer, snoring is something that no one can say they enjoy hearing or doing. While we know that snoring is something that a lot of people do, we’re curious – have you ever wondered why do people snore? Today, we’re going to take you through the fascinating science behind it and – hopefully – tell you a couple of things that you didn’t know about snoring.

man snoring and irritating his partner

Why Do People Snore?

1. Anatomical Explanation

If we look at snoring strictly based on the anatomy of it, what causes people to snore is their upper airway (so the nose and the throat) being partially closed. Usually, when we sleep, our neck muscles relax. While this shouldn’t be something that affects the way you breathe, it sometimes can be. If the muscles relax too much, the upper airway partially closes, blocking some of the air from reaching your lungs. Because of this, your body isn’t receiving the oxygen it needs to perform important functions. Snoring is basically the brain’s way of alerting the body that it needs to wake up and get all the oxygen it has to. This is why sometimes, when you snore, you suddenly wake up and not even realize it.

Yet, you might have noticed that some people tend to snore more often, while others might have never snored in their life. That’s because some people are more prone to snoring, due either to enlarged tonsils, a larger tongue, or excess weight in the neck area. The shape of someone’s jaw or nose can also cause them to snore more than other people.

2. Other Possible Causes

A. Nasal Problems

Another explanation that answers the question “Why do people snore?” is because of nasal problems. Some of the most common ones are a deviated nasal septum, which means that the partition between your nostrils is crooked, or a chronic nasal congestion.

B. Alcohol Consumption

Consuming a lot of alcohol before going to bed can be another cause of snoring. That’s because alcohol serves as a muscle relaxant, relaxing the muscles in your throat. Thus, consuming alcohol will decrease your body’s ability to defend itself from an airway obstruction.

group of friends drinking alcohol

C. Medication

Certain types of drugs can also cause people to snore, especially sedatives such as antihistamines, cold medicines, or sleeping pills.

D. Sleep Position

The way you sleep is also important when it comes to snoring. Usually, people who sleep on their backs are more likely to snore. That’s because when you sleep on your back, gravity works its magic and causes your airway to become even narrower. Sleeping on your side is the best way in which you can prevent snoring, or at least adjusting the position of your head so that it’s slightly more raised.

E. Sleep Deprivation

Sometimes, when you’re extremely tired and you haven’t slept properly in a while, you might snore due to the fact that your throat muscles are even more relaxed than usual.

F. Excess Weight

Another answer to the question “Why do people snore?” can be “Because of some excess weight”. It doesn’t matter how much weight you’ve gained (it can even be just a couple of pounds), this can still affect your sleep by causing you to snore. Whenever you gain weight, this also adds to the weight in your neck. Thus, it contributes to the pressure on your throat when you sleep.

G. Smoking

According to a study conducted by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, people who smoke or have smoked in the past are more likely to snore than non-smokers. That’s because the smoke coming from cigarettes is a hot irritant that can cause your soft tissues to swell.

close up of a man smoking

H. Allergies

Allergies might also explain why do people snore. Whenever you breathe in allergens, such as pet dander or pollen, your throat and nose tissues swell. This causes more contact between the tissue, including a partially closed airway. The reason why this happens mostly at night is because when we’re asleep, our body is not as capable of compensating for allergens as it is when we’re awake.

I. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Some people snore because they suffer from a condition called obstructive sleep apnea. OSA is a serious condition, in which the tissue around your throat blocks your airway, either partially or entirely. In turn, this prevents you from breathing like you normally would. If you’re unsure of whether you’re suffering from OSA or not, we should mention that this condition is characterized by a person alternatively snoring really loudly and then being completely silent. In those times of silence, the person stops breathing almost entirely. This might cause them to wake up with a gasp or a loud snort. This can happen extremely often during the night, as often as five or more times per hour.

Summing It All Up

We hope today’s guide has managed to answer the question “Why do people snore?” in an interesting and detailed manner. As you were probably able to tell from the information above, there are many reasons why people snore, some more serious than others. What’s important to remember is that even though snoring is not a disease, it can be a symptom of a disease, like in the case of obstructive sleep apnea.

Because of this, checking the cause of your snoring is a really important step you have to take. Especially if you tend to snore quite often. While everybody can occasionally snore because of being sleep deprived or having consumed alcohol before going to bed, if this becomes a common occurrence, you should take some measures to prevent it, both for your sake and for the sake of the person sleeping next to you.

There are a lot of snoring remedies that you can try, from simply adjusting your sleep position, to using noninvasive devices that will open your nasal passages, wearing a snoring mouthpiece, or even having surgery (if the situation requires it). Since people who snore are typically more irritable and sleep less than people who don’t, it’s always worth investigating the causes of your snoring and treat them as best as possible.

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Gabrielle Moreno

Hi, my name is Gabrielle, but all my friends call me Gaby. Having a degree in foreign languages, I first intended to develop a career in translations, but then I realized human interaction is more satisfying and got engaged in educational projects. Writing is my second best skill after teaching. I started writing about jobs and education based on my experience of not knowing what career path to choose. Sharing my knowledge and experience is the most rewarding aspect of my work, especially when I see it really touches people. Therefore, I look forward to reading your comments, thoughts and opinions. Feel free to contact me.


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