Anyone who’s shared a room with a snorer knows how disrupting snoring can be. Likewise, if you’ve awakened sleepy or sluggish after what you thought was a full night’s sleep, you may suspect that snoring is to blame.

There are plenty of reasons you or your partner may be snoring, and home remedies are often all you need to get a more peaceful night’s sleep. But while snoring is usually nothing to worry about, sometimes it’s a symptom of a larger health concern. Keep reading to find out why snoring happens, what you can do to try to stop it, and when it may be time to see a doctor.

The causes of snoring

Snoring is normal. You’ve heard babies snore and perhaps even your pets do it – everyone snores at some point. Snoring is caused when the airways in your throat, nose and mouth become obstructed. Your tonsils, adenoids and tongue are all soft tissue, so when something causes them to shift and normal airflow is restricted, you get vibrations from the sound of the air trying to pass through your body. These vibrations create the sounds of snoring.

Factors contributing to snoring

Even though snoring happens to everyone, some of us are more likely to snore than others. Men tend to snore more than women, and weight and age also play a role. The most common factors determining whether or not we snore include:

  • Family history: If you used to make fun of old Uncle Sal snoring away in his chair after Thanksgiving dinner, well, you might be next. People who have family members who snore are more likely to snore themselves.
  • Weight: Overweight people tend to snore more due in part to the extra pressure their weight puts on their airways.
  • Age: As we get older, our muscles become weaker, and our airways don’t stay as rigid as they once were.
  • Drugs and alcohol: Alcoholic drinks and sedatives relax your muscles, closing airways and making it more difficult for you to breathe unobstructed.
  • If you’re male: Men snore more than women. This has been attributed to both hormonal factors and the difference in neck and throat muscle structures.
  • Your anatomical makeup: People with enlarged tonsils, adenoids or tongue tend to snore more because it’s more difficult for air to pass through. A deviated septum can also block airways and cause snoring.
  • Pregnancy: The hormonal changes and weight gain that happen during pregnancy can contribute to snoring.
  • Nasal congestion: If you’re experiencing a stuffed-up nose, the blockage can cause you to snore more than usual.

Prevent or reduce snoring with home remedies, over-the-counter options and medical help

Sometimes fixing snoring is as simple as adding a few more pillows or adjusting your sleep position. But there could be other sleeping or lifestyle changes to make. Here are a few ideas, plus when to see a doctor to get medical treatment for snoring.

Natural remedies to reduce snoring

If you’re looking for ways to stop snoring without medical help, try these tips. And as a bonus, some home snoring remedies have benefits beyond a better night’s sleep.

Losing weight can reduce snoring

Among other benefits, losing weight can help you snore less. Fat deposits can form around your upper airway, causing an increase in snoring. People with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or lower snore less than those who don’t.

Try sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your back puts more pressure on your airways, so turning on your side can be an effective remedy. If you tend to shift positions while sleeping, try supporting yourself with a body pillow to keep you sleeping on your side.

Reducing alcohol intake can help you stop snoring

Alcohol relaxes your jaw and throat muscles, and also reduces the overall quality of your sleep. Both factors increase your likelihood of snoring. Having fewer drinks at a time will help you sleep better in more ways than one.

Keep your head high to snore less

If sleeping on your back works best for you, try setting up your pillows in a wedge shape under your upper half. With your head and chest elevated, you’ll take pressure off your airways and make breathing easier.

How to stop someone from snoring

A partner who snores can be even more annoying than being a snorer yourself. While they’re sleeping, you’re lying awake trying to figure out how to stop them from snoring.

You and your partner can try the tips listed above. Though some of the suggestions like weight loss and alcohol consumption are personal, it’s important to have a conversation if snoring is keeping you up at night. Also, if you notice your partner not breathing or struggling to breathe while sleeping, it’s definitely time to speak to a primary care provider – these can be symptoms of a more serious sleep condition.

If home remedies aren’t doing the trick, you might want to try some over-the-counter anti-snoring devices. Some people have success with various sleep products from the list below, although there might be some trial and error to find the best solution for you.

Anti-snoring chinstraps

Anti-snoring chinstraps keep the sleeper’s mouth closed, holding the chin in a position that keeps the tongue in alignment. If your tongue stays put, you’re less likely to snore. These are generally well reviewed, and they have been proven to work. One possible drawback is discomfort, and discomfort can prevent sleep in the first place. However, if you’re not bothered by sleeping with this apparatus, it can be an easy, effective fix.

Nasal strips

Nasal strips work by opening the nasal passages and helping air flow more freely. They are an effective way to stop snoring when snoring is caused by restricted nasal passages. For any other cause of snoring, nasal strips probably won’t work.

Mouthguards and mouthpieces for snoring

Mouthguards that prevent snoring work in a way similar to chinstraps – they keep the jaw and chin in place to make snoring less likely. Some find mouthguards uncomfortable, but for those who are able to use them, they are proven to be effective.

Anti-snore pillows

You can spend a lot of time and money trying to find the perfect anti-snore pillow. Do those efforts pay off? It depends. Anti-snore pillows are designed to keep your head and neck positioned for optimal snore-free sleep. Some help you stay on your side, while others work best for stomach or back sleepers. There can be a lot of trial and error involved, but reviews from people who say they’ve found their ultimate anti-snore pillow suggest they’re worth it.

When to be concerned about snoring

Gasping for air or not breathing easily while you’re sleeping can be signs of a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Of course, you’re sleeping – or at least you thought you were – so these symptoms might be hard to notice.

Ask your partner to take notes and share their experience with you. If you sleep alone, signs that you’re not getting your best-quality sleep include daytime fatigue, irritability and waking up with a sore throat. Wearable fitness trackers are also a great resource for measuring your sleep quality.

When to see a doctor about your snoring

If you’ve tried home remedies and over-the-counter solutions, but none worked, it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor. Your primary care doctor is the best place to start. Be sure to have about three weeks of documented sleep information. Keep track of:

  • How much you slept each night
  • Your partner’s observations of you waking or not breathing
  • How you feel in the morning and throughout your day

This is also a great time to pay attention to your fitness tracker or smart watch if you have one. The sleep data they provide can help your doctor get a better picture of your sleep health.

Your primary care doctor will help determine if your snoring is a symptom of a sleep disorder or condition such as sleep apnea, a deviated septum or insomnia. They may refer you to an ENT or a sleep specialist to help you get to the bottom of your snoring.

Medical options for helping with snoring

There are several steps your doctor can recommend for help with your snoring. They may want to start with imaging of your head and neck. X-rays and MRIs can help them get a better picture of what the cause of your snoring might be. If they determine that you have sleep apnea, they may recommend a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. Other options include getting you fitted with a more custom mouthguard or mouthpiece, and lifestyle adjustments. If your primary care doctor needs more information, they may refer you to a sleep specialist.

Surgery for snoring

In some cases, minor surgery for snoring is the best option. However, this is rare and only recommended after other noninvasive methods have failed. Tonsil or adenoid removal helps open up your airways. Somnoplasty, LAUP (laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty) and palatal implants also provide more space for airflow.

You don’t have to take snoring lying down

A restful night’s sleep is possible, even if snoring currently makes it seem an unlikely dream. Take control of your condition by trying lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter options. If those don’t work, your primary care doctor is here to help. Get the rest you – and your partner – deserve by snoring less and sleeping more.