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Understanding What's Causing You to Snore

Understanding What's Causing You to Snore

You’ve most likely heard someone snoring loudly at some point — so you know it’s not a very pleasant sound. But have you been told that you snore? You may be surprised by that accusation if you don’t know it’s even happening. Getting to the bottom of your snoring problem can help you and your partner sleep better at night.

Dr. Katharine Christian is our in-house sleep medicine expert at The Snoring and Sleep Apnea Center in Seattle, Washington, and she can get to the bottom of your noisy problem. She can also help you understand why you snore so you get the treatment you need. So, what is it that leads to this annoying noise?

Conditions that lead to snoring

Just about everyone snores at some point in their life. Contrary to popular belief, snoring isn’t always a sign of a problem. Some people snore and don’t have any other symptoms of disrupted sleep

However, in about half of adult men and women, snoring is an issue that’s caused by a bigger problem — sleep apnea. This is a dangerous condition that can lead to health problems if it’s not addressed. There are other causes of snoring as well, and they include:


Being overweight leads to snoring due to the increased amount of tissue around your airway and neck area. The excess weight may cause your airway to collapse, resulting in snoring while you sleep.

Sleep positions

You’re much more likely to snore if you’re a back sleeper. This is because when you’re lying on your back, your airway becomes more narrow due to the tissues in your mouth and gravity. If you snore and are a back sleeper, you may find relief by sleeping on your side instead.

Nasal congestion

Whether you’re prone to allergies or have a sinus infection, nasal congestion is a common cause of snoring. When your nose is stuffed up, less air can pass through your nose, causing the airway to essentially collapse. This leads to snoring in most cases.

Smoking and alcohol use

Although it’s not completely understood why smokers are more likely to snore, research suggests that it may be due to airway inflammation. This inflammation in your upper airway can lead to edema and snoring.

Alcohol usage is another reason you may be snoring at night. Because alcohol has a sedative effect on your body, it causes your muscles to relax, sometimes leading to snoring. This is the reason sedative medications can also lead to this issue.

Anatomy of your head

Certain anatomical features make you more prone to snoring. A deviated septum in your nose is one of the most common types of abnormality. However, other features that may cause you to snore include enlarged tonsils, small jaw structure, or a larger-than-normal tongue.

More about obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

This medical condition often leads to snoring. However, just because you snore doesn’t mean you have OSA. One of the signs that your snoring is related to OSA is pauses in your breathing that create periods of quiet in between snore sounds

OSA often eludes diagnosis, because if no one is with you at night, you probably don’t even know you do it. However, the periods of paused breathing can be dangerous and lead to other conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Getting your snoring under control

To properly diagnose the cause of your snoring, Dr. Christian does a thorough exam to determine if the snore is coming from your nose or your throat. However, the only way to determine if your snoring is just annoying or is life threatening is with a sleep study. Most of the time a home sleep study is enough to determine this.

The type of treatment that Dr. Christian recommends is based on the cause of your snoring. Dr. Christian may recommend lifestyle changes to help with the problem — for example, shedding pounds if you’re overweight. An oral appliance is another route of treatment that she may recommend to ease your snoring.

In some cases, Dr. Christian steers you toward a noninvasive laser therapy to correct your snoring. She uses the NightLaseⓇ device for this type of therapy, which helps tighten up the tissues in your airway and make those same tissues thicker. This allows for a larger airway opening and prevents the excess tissue from obstructing your airway.

Don’t let your partner suffer through one more sleepless night. Call our office today at 206-905-6998, or request an appointment using our online booking tool.

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