Why it’s Worthwhile Determining the Cause of Snoring

Snoring is the vibration of respiratory structures which results in that annoying sound that can keep your partner up at night. It’s caused by obstructed air movement during breathing while sleeping. The sound is the result of soft tissue in the airway vibrating as air passes through the obstructed airway.

While it may seem like just an annoyance, snoring can actually be detrimental to your health. It interrupts sleep quality preventing you from getting deep, restorative sleep. Snoring has also been linked to serious health issues like heart disease and high blood pressure. Figuring out why you snore is important because it allows you to find solutions to address the specific cause. Once the cause is identified, the right treatment can be pursued whether it’s devices, lifestyle changes, medication or even surgery. Determining the reason you snore helps ensure you find a solution that is effective for your particular situation.

Keep a Sleep Diary

The first step in determining why you snore is to keep a sleep diary. This involves closely tracking your sleep patterns and behaviors that are associated with snoring.

You’ll need to enlist the help of your partner or someone that sleeps in the same room as you. Have them carefully observe when snoring occurs during the night. Make sure they note the exact times the snoring starts and stops. Also have them document your sleep position, whether you had alcohol or medications before bed, and any other factors that seem to trigger or prevent the snoring.

With your partner’s observations, you can start to pinpoint the sleep stages, positions, and habits that lead to snoring. For example, you may notice that snoring only happens when sleeping on your back or after having alcoholic drinks before bed.

Keeping a diary over multiple nights will allow you to establish patterns in when and why you snore. This information is extremely valuable in figuring out the cause and finding solutions tailored to your specific circumstances. With diligent tracking by your sleep partner, the diary will provide crucial insights into your snoring habits.

Notice What Stops the Snoring

One of the best ways to determine the cause of snoring is to observe what makes it stop. This requires paying close attention to what is happening when the snoring starts and stops.

Take note of any position changes that cause snoring to cease. Sometimes just a slight shift in how you are sleeping can open up the airway enough to prevent the vibrations that lead to snoring. Pay attention to if snoring stops when you turn from back sleeping to side sleeping. Elevating the head with an extra pillow is another simple position change to try.

It’s also important to notice if avoiding alcohol before bedtime reduces or eliminates snoring episodes. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant that can cause the throat muscles to loosen and narrow the airway space. Skipping that glass of wine or beer before bed can make a big difference.

Finally, take note if breathing in steam from a hot shower right before going to sleep helps open nasal passages and reduces snoring. The moist air can help clear any congestion or swelling in the nasal cavities that might be contributing to snoring. This is an easy thing to test at home.

Observing and recording these patterns of what makes snoring stop can provide valuable clues into what is causing it in the first place. This understanding sets the stage for finding the right solutions.

Types of Snorers: Mouth Closed

If you are someone who sleeps with their mouth shut but still snores, the issue likely stems from your tongue and nasal passages. When there is swelling or congestion in these areas, it can cause a blockage in your airways that leads to snoring.

Even if your nasal passages feel clear, there may be an obstruction that is not obvious upon casual inspection. It’s a good idea to visit a doctor to have them take a close look in your nasal cavity and throat to determine if any blockage or inflammation is present.

Often times, a simple course of antihistamines or a medicated nasal spray prescribed by your doctor can reduce swelling and open up the airways. This minor treatment is usually enough to stop snoring for people who sleep with their mouths closed, providing major relief for both the snorer and their partner.

The key is to identify the blockage and reduce inflammation. Don’t assume that just because your nose feels clear that it actually is – the swelling can be deeper in the nasal cavity. Getting a professional medical opinion and following their recommended treatment is the best way to stop snoring with a closed mouth.

Types of Snorers: Mouth Open

If you go to bed with your mouth wide open and wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat, you likely have an obstruction in your throat that is causing you to snore. When your throat is partially blocked, your body tries to suck in more air which causes the tissues of your throat to vibrate creating that snoring sound.

One of the most common causes of an obstructed airway is enlarged tonsils. As you sleep, the enlarged tonsils narrow your airway causing turbulent airflow and snoring. Discussing a tonsillectomy with your doctor can determine if removing your tonsils solves the problem.

Another cause of throat obstruction is relaxation of the muscles in the mouth and throat from alcohol consumption or taking sleeping pills. Alcohol and medications like sleep aids cause the muscles to overly relax and collapse into the airway. This narrows the airway and increases air turbulence and vibration of the throat tissues.

Avoiding alcohol for 2-3 hours before bedtime and limiting or avoiding sleep aids can often prevent this type of snoring.

Treatments for Mouth Closed Snoring

If you are a mouth closed snorer, there are some effective treatments that can help reduce or eliminate the snoring. One of the most common is taking an over-the-counter antihistamine. Antihistamines work by drying up excess mucus production that can cause congestion and blockages in the nasal passages and throat. Popular antihistamine options include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), cetirizine (Zyrtec), or loratadine (Claritin). Taking an antihistamine 30-60 minutes before bedtime allows it time to start working before you fall asleep.

Using a medicated nasal spray is another good treatment option for mouth closed snorers. Nasal sprays contain corticosteroids that help reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. This opens up the airways and allows for better airflow while sleeping. Nasal sprays like fluticasone (Flonase) or triamcinolone (Nasacort) are available over-the-counter and are very effective. Make sure to follow the dosage instructions carefully. Using a nasal spray at night helps open nasal passages so you can breathe easier as you sleep.

The combination of an antihistamine and medicated nasal spray is a good first step in treating mouth closed snoring. If congestion and nasal passage inflammation is the cause, these medications can significantly reduce or stop snoring altogether. Be consistent in using them every night before bed for the best results. If the snoring persists, visiting a doctor is recommended to explore other treatment options. But for many mouth closed snorers, OTC antihistamines and nasal sprays do the trick.

Treatments for Mouth Open Snoring

If you snore with your mouth wide open, there are a few potential solutions to try. One of the most common causes of this type of snoring is enlarged tonsils, which narrow the airway and force more turbulent airflow. Consulting with your doctor about getting a tonsillectomy is an option if your tonsils are obstructing breathing.

Another major reason people snore with an open mouth is muscle relaxation from alcohol or medication. Alcohol consumption before bed relaxes the muscles in the mouth and throat, allowing them to fall back into the airway. Likewise, some sleeping pills or tranquilizers can overly relax these muscles.

To treat an open mouth snoring issue related to alcohol or medication, try limiting alcohol intake in the evenings. Stop drinking a few hours before bedtime to allow the effects to wear off. Also, talk to your doctor about adjusting any sedatives or sleeping pills you take at night. They may be able to switch you to a medication that does not relax muscles as much. Taking the lowest effective dose can also help minimize throat obstruction.

Making simple lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol before bed and optimizing medications can go a long way toward quieting an open mouth snore. But if the problem persists, surgical options like tonsillectomy may be required. Consulting a doctor is the best way forward if over-the-counter and behavioral remedies are not solving the issue.

When to See a Doctor

If you’ve tried the self-help tips mentioned for dealing with snoring, but you find your snoring persists and continues to disrupt your sleep and your partner’s, it may be time to consult a doctor. The doctor will examine your mouth, nose and throat to get to the bottom of what’s causing the snoring.

An otolaryngologist, also known as an ear-nose-throat doctor or ENT, will look into the following possible causes:

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Deviated nasal septum – crooked partition between the nostrils
  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal polyps – abnormal tissue growths inside the nose
  • Obstructions in the airway from largeness of the tongue or uvula
  • Sleep apnea – when breathing stops temporarily during sleep

After the examination, the ENT specialist can make recommendations on the best course of action whether it’s a medication, lifestyle change, oral appliance, or potentially surgery if needed. Don’t keep suffering through sleepless, noisy nights – see a doctor for professional diagnosis and treatment advice. With their expertise, you can find the right solution and finally get restful, quiet sleep again.

Snoring Aids

There are several over-the-counter devices that can help reduce or eliminate snoring:


During sleep, some people may experience soft tissue in their mouth and throat collapsing, which can result in blocked airways and snoring. However, mouthpieces can be worn inside the mouth to prevent this from happening. Some mouthpieces are designed to bring the jaw forward slightly, while others create suction to pull the tongue forward. Mouthpieces are considered to be one of the most effective remedies for snoring.

Nasal Strips

Adhesive strips placed on the bridge of the nose help open nasal passages and improve airflow. This can reduce snoring caused by nasal congestion. Nasal strips are drug-free and can be reused.

Throat Sprays

Sprays containing oils or saline solution can help lubricate the throat and prevent the tissues from vibrating and causing snoring sounds. The moisture may also help shrink swollen tissues in the throat. Just a few sprays before bed may be enough to reduce mild snoring. Use as directed.

Mouthpieces, nasal strips, and throat sprays are affordable, non-invasive devices that may help reduce or eliminate snoring. They are available without a prescription. However, you may want to consult with your doctor, especially if over-the-counter remedies don’t solve your snoring problem.

Our Conclusion

In summary, determining the type of snoring you do can help uncover the cause and find an effective solution. Those who snore with their mouth shut likely have an obstruction in their nasal passages or tongue that antihistamines or nasal spray could alleviate. For mouth open snorers, an obstruction in the throat is more common. Enlarged tonsils, alcohol, or medication relaxing throat muscles too much are possible culprits. Avoiding alcohol and certain medications before bed may help.

The most effective solutions will depend on your specific snoring type and cause. Keeping a sleep diary, noticing patterns, and working with your doctor can help diagnose the issue. Once the root cause is found, aids like nasal strips, throat sprays, mouthpieces, or lifestyle changes can make a big difference. With some effort to identify why you snore, you can find relief and finally get a peaceful night’s sleep.