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We’re all guilty of snoring at some point but if you’re a regular, it’s probably time to do something about it. And that’s not only for your own health but also for the sanity of those around you.

We’ve put together some information to explain why people snore and what you can do about it.

Dog sleeping on bed


  • Why do I snore? Why do I snore?

    When you’re awake, muscles in your nose, mouth and throat keep your airways open, allowing you to breathe freely. When you’re asleep, these muscles relax and your airways can sometimes narrow or even close up and stop air from getting in or out easily. When you try to breathe, your soft palate (roof of your mouth) and tissue in your mouth, nose or throat vibrates, which makes you snore.

    Key fact

    Although you can snore at any age, you’re more likely to do it as you get older. And men are more likely to snore than women.

  • Is snoring harmful? Is snoring harmful?

    Snoring itself isn’t harmful. But it may be a sign that you have a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnoea. This interrupts your breathing and wakes you up – it’s important to get treatment for this condition.

    Key fact

    Snoring can seriously affect the people around you. For many couples, and in some cases whole families, snoring can interfere with sleep and have knock-on effects on relationships. But don’t lose hope; there are plenty of things you can do to tackle snoring, as we explain here.

  • How can I stop snoring? How can I stop snoring?

    Certain things make you more likely to snore, but the good news? You have control over all of them so the ball’s in your court. They include the following.

    Man putting on sports socks 

    The problem

    Being overweight

    Why it makes you snore

    If you have fat around your neck, it can limit the airflow and increase your risk of snoring.

    How you can fix it

    Take steps to try to lose a bit of weight.


    The problemCigarette being stubbed out on a calendar


    Why it makes you snore

    It can inflame your nostrils and throat and further narrow your airways.

    How you can fix it

    Make a plan to quit smoking.


    Pint of beer

    The problem

    Drinking alcohol

    Why it makes you snore

    This can make your muscles relax more than usual, causing your palate and tongue to vibrate.

    How you can fix it

    Drink less generally, and don’t drink alcohol before you go to bed.


    The problem

    Your sleeping position

    Why it makes you snore

    When you lie flat on your back, your tongue is more likely to fall back into your throat and block your airway, causing you to snore.

    How you can fix it

    Sleep on your side and keep your head raised on pillows – and just use one pillow, or two thin ones.


    If you give these measures a go but still have problems, it’s worth talking to your GP. They will check if any other health problems are causing your snoring. If your snoring is really bad or your GP thinks you might have sleep apnoea, they will refer you to a sleep clinic.


    Key fact

    There are also things that make you more likely to snore that you can’t do anything about. For instance, you’re more likely to snore as you get older, as your muscle tone decreases.

  • Treatment for snoring

    Our Bupa Dental Centres offer a range of routine, specialist and cosmetic treatments including snoring solutions. Find out more.

  • Treatment Treatments for snoring

    There are a number of treatments you can try to tackle your snoring. These include a type of mouth guard that pushes your lower jaw forward, called a mandibular advancement device. This is claimed to work by improving the air flow when you sleep. Nasal strips (plasters) are another product that is supposed to help snoring. These pull your nostrils apart to help stop them narrowing when you sleep. Although some people say these help, scientific studies haven’t shown that they are effective at reducing snoring.

    There may be a physical reason why you snore which you can have treatment for, which should in turn stop you snoring. Here are some examples of physical problems that can make you snore and their possible treatments.

    The problem The treatment
    A receding lower jaw.

    Surgery may realign your jaw.
    A large uvula (the small piece of tissue that hangs down at the back of your mouth) or enlarged tonsils.

    Surgery to remove your uvula or tonsils.
    Low levels of thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism). A hormone treatment called thyroxine.
    A blocked nose, caused by congestion (for example an allergy or a cold), nasal polyps or damage to your nose.

    Nasal spray to reduce congestion. Surgery to remove nasal polyps or to repair damage.
    Going through the menopause. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

    It’s important to keep in mind that surgery is generally only considered as a last resort as it doesn’t work for everybody.


    Key fact

    There isn’t much evidence to prove that mandibular advancement devices work, but you might decide it’s worth giving them a go.

  • Resources Resources

    Further information


    • Snoring. BMJ Best Practice., published 20 April 2015
    • Radiofrequency ablation of the soft palate for snoring. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), January 2014.
    • Snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea. ENT UK., accessed 30 June 2015
    • Obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries., published April 2015
    • Surgical approach to snoring and sleep apnea. Medscape., published 8 October 2013
    • Joint Formulary Committee. British National Formulary (online) London: BMJ Group and Pharmaceutical Press., accessed 3 June 2015
    • The menopause. British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association., accessed 3 June 2015
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    Reviewed by Rachael Mayfield-Blake, Bupa Health Content Team, August 2015.

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