Risk Factors for Snoring

Some factors that contribute to snoring are:

  • Mouth features—Having a long, low, or thick soft palate, a long uvula (tissue that hangs from the soft palate), or enlarged tonsils can narrow the airway and cause snoring.
  • Mouth breathing—Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose causes more air to pass through the airway, increasing tissue vibration and snoring.
  • Excess weight—Overweight people often have thicker necks, which can also narrow the airway. Sleep apnea is common in men whose necks measure more than 17" around and in women whose necks measure greater than 16".
  • Nasal congestion—A stuffy nose (e.g., caused by an upper respiratory infection, such as a cold, or by allergies) makes it more difficult to breathe and can increase tissue vibration.
  • Deviated septum—An abnormality in the tissue that separates the nostrils can also cause a narrowed airway and snoring.
  • Alcohol—Drinking alcohol too close to bedtime makes throat muscles relax even more and can increase snoring.
  • Sleep apnea—This condition causes throat tissues to obstruct the airway, narrowing it to the point that little oxygen can get through or blocking the airway completely and contributing to snoring.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Sep 2009

Last Modified: 06 Oct 2015