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What is it

Millions of people snore, but except for keeping someone else awake at night, is snoring a problem? It may or may not be. For some, snoring may only be additional noise while sleeping. But if the snoring is chronic and loud some snores can exceed 90 decibels, the government standard for noise in the workplace the snoring may signify that the airways have shut down periodically during the night, depriving the lungs of air. This is a serious medical problem called obstructive sleep apnea.

Anywhere from 25 to 45 percent of Americans snore at least occasionally. It is largely adult men who snore, but children between the ages of 3 and 13 can snore when they have large tonsils and adenoids, or when they have a bad cold. As they mature, most will stop snoring.

Men typically start to snore in their late 30s and 40s, and the snoring intensifies after the age of 50. Among older people there may actually be more snorers than non-snorers. People who are overweight are also more likely to snore.


  • Guttural intermittent noise when breathing during sleep.
  • Episodes of stopped breathing.
  • Daytime fatigue.
  • Irritability.

What if you do nothing

In most cases habitual snoring doesn’t disappear on its own. If your bedmate can tolerate it, and if you are getting a good night’s sleep, then there is no need to correct it. However, if loud snoring or aborted breathing is part of your snoring pattern, and if you find that you are drowsy during the day, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, a medical condition that requires treatment.

Home remedies

If snoring annoys your bedmate, try these techniques to stop it.

Avoid heavy meals and alcohol within three hours of bedtime

Eating heavily before turning in, or drinking alcohol causes greater-than normal relaxation of the throat muscles, which may cause a non-snorer to snore.

Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime

Most of these medications suppress neck-muscle tone, just like alcohol, and can cause snoring.

Lose weight if you are obese

No one is certain why weight gain causes snoring. It may be linked to increased fat in the structures around the throat, which diminishes the size of the air passages through which you breathe. If you have a tendency to snore, it will get worse when you gain weight. If you are overweight, make an effort to lose the excess pounds.

Avoid sleeping on your back

This position may lead to snoring because the tongue falls back and presses against the top of the airways. The best positions are the stomach and the side. However, for heavy snorers, sleep position has no effect; they will snore in all positions.

Try the tennis ball treatment

Tape a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas. (A rolled-up pair of socks will also do the trick.) Every time you roll over on your back, you’ll become uncomfortable and roll back on your side.

Tilt the head of your bed upward

Place telephone books or bricks under the legs at the head of the bed. This may help relieve chronic snoring.

Seek treatment for allergies and upper respiratory problems that cause nasal obstruction

Congestion due to allergies and colds causes the air passages to narrow. When air flows through a narrow airway it’s more turbulent and causes the throat tissues to vibrate. Contact an allergy specialist for testing and treatment. If you have nasal congestion due to a cold, use a decongestant.

Make sure fresh air flows through the bed-room

When the room is hot and dry, nasal passages become clogged during sleep, and this often leads to snoring. Keep your windows open and, if necessary, use a humidifier to keep the nasal passages moist while you sleep.

If you smoke, quit

Along with its many destructive health consequences, smoking has an irritant effect that causes mucus buildup, inflammation, and swelling of the pharynx, as well as bronchial congestion, all of which can contribute to snoring.

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