Is Snoring Always a Cause for Concern?

Mar 16, 2023

Is Snoring Always a Cause for Concern?

With almost everyone snoring at some point or another, it’s not a cause for concern. However, snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where you stop and restart breathing multiple times during sleep.

How do you know if your snoring is a concern? At NY Metro Sleep in the Bronx, New York, our sleep medicine expert, Dr. Rajendra M. Rampersaud, recommends scheduling a sleep evaluation if your snoring is loud and occurs with pauses in breathing or periods where you’re gasping for air.

Here, we want to explain why you snore and when it’s a concern.

Why do I snore?

You snore when there’s an obstruction in the air flow through your mouth or nose. When you breathe through the obstruction, the tissues in the mouth and throat hit each other and vibrate, causing a whistling, grumbling, or snorting sound. 

Numerous health conditions may block the flow of air through the mouth or nose, like nasal congestion from a cold or allergies, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or a deviated septum. Too much body fat can also put extra pressure on the soft tissue, causing it to collapse and block the flow of air.

Additionally, poor muscle tone in the mouth or tongue may cause the tissues to relax too much, obstructing the airway. Alcohol, sedatives, and sleep deprivation may cause this type of muscle relaxation that leads to snoring. 

Sleeping on your back or on a very soft pillow may also affect the airflow through your nose and mouth, resulting in snorting or whistling sounds when you sleep.

When snoring is a concern

Snoring is a concern if it disrupts your ability to get a good night of rest. Some people don’t even know they snore, while others may toss and turn all night and wake up in the morning feeling unrested with a headache and dry mouth.

Snoring is also a concern when it’s loud, occurs regularly, and causes you to gasp for breath while you sleep. This type of snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder in which you stop and restart breathing multiple times an hour while you sleep. 

Your snoring is also a concern if it makes it hard for your sleep partner to get a restful night of sleep. 

Treatment for snoring

Treatment for snoring depends on the cause. Our sleep medicine experts conduct a thorough evaluation and may do a sleep study to determine the root cause of your noisy sleep. 

A few lifestyle changes can reduce snoring, such as not drinking alcohol before bed, maintaining a healthy weight, getting a firmer pillow, and sleeping on your side. 

If your snoring is due to sleep apnea, we recommend either a dental sleep appliance that repositions your jaw to improve air flow when you sleep or CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy that keeps your airways open. 

In some cases, we may consider surgery to treat any structural issue causing the obstruction, like a deviated septum or enlarged tonsils. 

Occasional snoring is common and not a cause for concern. However, if you snore loudly and regularly, you should schedule an appointment with our sleep medicine expert to rule out a sleep problem. Call or book an appointment online today.