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Snoring is a common sleeping condition that occurs when the airways through the mouth and nose become physically obstructed. Occasionally snoring is not generally an issue or cause for alarm. However, habitual snoring can impair your quality of sleep and be a sign of other health issues. Habitual snoring is more common in men and individuals who are overweight, and can get worse as one ages.


Did You Know?

Snoring affects approximately 90 million Americans yearly, with 37 million of those snoring on a nightly basis.


Frequently Asked Questions:


tired woman sleeping with her head down in front of her laptop at her work desk

How does snoring affect my health?

Snoring can disrupt your quality of sleep, which can leave you feeling fatigued during the day and it can be an indicator for obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, about half of individuals who regularly snore have obstructive sleep apnea. Both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can lead to daytime dysfunction. Daytime dysfunction consists of daytime sleepiness, frequent feelings of frustration or anger, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of vehicular accidents. In addition, those who snore or who have obstructive sleep apnea are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease or other conditions, and stroke.


What causes snoring?

Snoring is caused by the physical obstruction of air through the mouth and/or nose, and can be caused by the following factors:

  • Obstructed nasal airways: nasal polyps or a deviated septum can obstruct the airflow and cause snoring. In addition, allergies or sinus infections can also cause the natural flow of air to become obstructed.
  • Lack of muscle tone: when there is a lack of muscle tone in the throat and tongue, these muscles become too relaxed and can impede the airway. Lack of muscle tone is a normal occurrence of aging, but it can also be attributed to deep sleep, alcohol, and sleeping pills.
  • Excess throat tissue: children with large tonsils and adenoids, or overweight individuals often have excess throat tissue that can obstruct airflow.
  • Large soft palate or uvula: having a soft palate that extends far back into the throat or a uvula that is longer than usual causes the opening from the nose to the throat to be narrower, increasing the chances that airflow will become obstructed.
  • Alcohol: alcohol can relax your throat muscles causing them to obstruct your airway
  • Sleeping position: sleeping on your back allows gravity to pull down on your throat, which narrows the airway and can lead to obstructed airflow

How do I know if I am snoring?

If you have a sleeping partner, chances are they will make you well aware of the fact that you are snoring. However, some other symptoms of snoring to look out for include: daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, recent weight gain, not feeling rested upon waking, sore throat upon waking, waking at night feeling confused, chest pain at night, pauses in your breathing while sleeping, and not be able to maintain focus, concentrate, or remember things during the day.

man laying on his side asleep and snoring in his bed

Is snoring genetic?

If your family has a history of snoring or sleep apnea, then you are predisposed to also snore and develop sleep apnea. Other risk factors that can increase your chances of snoring include being a male, being overweight, having a narrow airway, drinking alcohol, and having nasal problems such as a deviated septum.

How is snoring diagnosed?

At Overlake Internal Medicine Associates, we will take your family history and perform a physical exam, as well as a sleep test to check you for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders that could be the cause of your snoring. A sleep test will also determine the exact quality of sleep you get, so we can determine which treatment will work best for your snoring.


What should I expect during my sleep study?

During your sleep study, or polysomnography, you will be connected to various sensors while you sleep so our sleep doctors can observe you. While you sleep, information about your brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing rate, sleep stages, and eye and leg movements will be recorded and analyzed by OIMA’s sleep doctors.


woman sleeping on her back with a cpap machine

What treatment options are available for snoring?

Your treatment for snoring will depend upon your individual case and sleep study results. You may also need to experiment with a range of treatments to determine which will work best for you. Possible treatments for snoring include:

  • Lifestyle modifications such as different sleeping positions or the treatment of allergies.
  • Specialized appliances such as dental appliances or nasal dilators which keep the airways open. Your dentist will help fit your oral appliance and you will work with both your dentist and your sleep doctor to ensure the appliance is working properly.
  • CPAP (continuous airway pressure appliance) to prevent the throat from collapsing. This method will be especially recommended if the cause of your snoring can be attributed to sleep apnea.
  • Surgery to remove or modify the tissues responsible for airway obstruction. For example, a uvulopalatopharyngoplasy (UPPP) is like a face lift for your throat where extra tissue is removed. There is also maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) which moves the upper and lower jaws forward to open the airway. You may also have the tissues in the soft palate, nose, or tongue shrunk through Radiofrequency tissue ablation. Finally, hypoglossal nerve stimulation stimulates the nerve in your tongue responsible for moving your tongue forward to prevent it from receding into the back of your mouth and blocking the airway when you breathe.


Some other habits to follow that can also reduce or possibly eliminate snoring are:

  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding sleeping pills, antihistamines, or tranquilizers
  • Avoid alcohol four hours before sleeping
  • Avoid heavy meals or snacks three hours before sleeping
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns
  • Sleep on your side or slightly elevated instead of flat on your back


If you’ve been told that you are a habitual snorer or if you have noticed any of the symptoms of snoring, don’t keep losing valuable hours of sleep. Schedule a consultation with Bellevue’s top sleep doctors at Overlake Internal Medicine Associates today!