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Snoring — More Than Just a Nightly Nuisance

Published on Jan 19, 2016
Medically reviewed by Verne W. Pitman, PharmD

About 90 million Americans snore. That’s a lot of noise each night. And, if one of the 90 million snorers happens to share your bed and keep you up at night, it’s no laughing matter. Snoring can cause unpleasant daytime symptoms such as excessive sleepiness, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, irritability, and depression. So, even if you feel like pushing your beloved snorer out of bed so you can get some rest, it may be prudent to take him or her to see a doctor to address the underlying issue that’s causing all that noise.

Under All Those ZZZs

Snoring can be caused by a number of conditions, including:

  • Allergies
  • Congestion
  • Certain nasal structures (e.g., polyps, tonsillitis, deviated septum)
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetic factors
  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Aging
  • Certain medications

Moreover, about half the people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea, a common disorder, in which a person has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while asleep, which often starts again with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep apnea can cause fatigue and should be treated because it increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other health problems.

Take a Closer Look

How your partner snores may reveal what’s making them snore. For instance, if your partner’s mouth is closed, it’s possible that the tongue is causing a problem. If snoring occurs with an open mouth, it may be related to “floppy” tissues in the throat, which can make noise when air is expelled. If snoring occurs while your partner is sleeping face up, and it’s mild, a gentle nudge and a change in the sleep position may alleviate the problem. If your loved one snores in all positions no matter what, there may be a more severe underlying medical issue that needs attention.

What You Can Do

First and foremost, have a serious discussion about snoring with your partner and suggest he or she see a doctor to address the issue.

You may also want to suggest some healthy lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Smoking cessation
  • Avoiding alcohol near bedtime
  • Asking you doctor or pharmacist if any of the medications you take (prescription or over-the-counter) could be contributing to snoring

In the meantime, you can invest in earplugs and a fan or white-noise machine to keep on your side of the bed; these devices may help you get more sleep. And remember: while a lack of sleep due to the noise of snoring can be a problem for you, snoring may have a treatable underlying health issue that your partner can address with the help of a medical professional.

So don’t let snoring remain simply a nightly nuisance. Bring the topic into the daylight and the doctor’s office, so that everyone can rest more easily.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


  • 1. National Sleep Foundation. Snoring and sleep. Accessed: December 1, 2015.
  • 2. Sleep Education. Snoring – causes and symptoms. Accessed: December 1, 2015.
  • 3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is sleep apnea? National Institutes of Health Web site. Accessed: December 1, 2015.
  • 4. Segal J, Robinson L, Segal R. How to stop snoring. Help Guide Web site. Accessed: December 1, 2015.
  • 5. NIH SeniorHealth. Sleep and aging: Snoring. National Institutes of Health Web site. Accessed: December 1, 2015.
External Resources

Quick Poll

After having read this article, how likely are you to talk to a partner about the potential medical issues associated with chronic snoring?


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