Chances are, you know somebody who snores – or you’re a snorer yourself. This common affliction affects some 90 million Americans at least occasionally, with one-third of those identified as habitual snorers.

While snoring may be deemed a nuisance, it can have serious health consequences and negatively impact relationships and job performance.

Getting your snoring under control can improve your (and your partner’s) quality of life.

The Mechanics of Snoring

When we sleep, our tongue and throat muscles relax. In some individuals, especially those who have bulky tissue thanks to excess weight or physical abnormalities, this can create a blockage that obstructs the airway. Snoring occurs when the tissues vibrate together during breathing. Some individuals experience a condition known as obstructive sleep apnea in which they stop breathing periodically. This is a serious health issue that should be treated promptly by a sleep specialist.

A number of factors can cause a person to snore. These range from normal aging to colds and allergies; sinus conditions; being overweight; and physical deformities such as nasal polyps, enlarged adenoids or tongue, deviated septum and unusually long soft palate. Even lifestyle plays a role: drinking alcohol and eating meals before bedtime, and sleeping on your back, can all increase snoring.

Snoring Solutions

If you snore, chances are you aren’t getting the quality sleep you need. Daytime drowsiness is just the tip of the iceberg. Seeking treatment to reduce or eliminate snoring is important for your health and wellbeing.

If your snoring is mild, start by making lifestyle changes. Drop those extra pounds, eliminate alcohol and snacking at night, and sleep on your side instead of your back in order to keep your airway open. An oral mouth guard that repositions the jaw during sleep may prove helpful. Nasal breathing strips often help, especially when you’re suffering from a cold or allergies. There are a number of surgical procedures that deliver permanent results, as well. If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the preferred method of treatment.