What Causes Snoring



Stop snoring today with our expert help and snoring treatments that work

Brisbane Snoring is Brisbane’s experts on snoring causes and snoring treatments. There is a solution to snoring, and it doesn’t involve sleeping in separate rooms! Before you learn about Brisbane Snoring’s revolutionary NightLase® laser snoring treatment, it’s important to understand what causes snoring. This page will tell you everything you need to know about snoring, including what can be done about it, and even tips on how to approach the sensitive issue of having a partner who snores. We know snoring in children can be concerning for parents, so you’ll also find some useful general information on snoring in babies and children on this page.

If you need information on Sleep Apnea Clinic, including central and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, please visit our what causes Sleep Apnea Brisbane page to get the facts on this more serious condition, or read about our sleep apnea laser treatments.

If you already have all the information you need about snoring and want to know how Brisbane Snoring can help you get a good night’s sleep, please visit our snoring laser treatment page.


Listen to our snoring specialist Dr Campey talk about snoring on ABC Radio



Key facts about snoring


What is snoring?

Snoring is the sound produced when an individual’s upper airway tissues, including those in the nose and throat, vibrate while they sleep. This vibration is caused by obstructed airflow through the snorer’s respiratory structures. Snoring is very common, and almost everyone snores on the odd occasion. However, 44% of men and almost 30% of women aged between 30 and 60 years old have a chronic snoring problem. Some people snore softly, but in many cases, they snore loudly, which can severely affect the quality of their life, both at work and at home.

Snoring occasionally or even frequently doesn’t automatically mean that you have a breathing disorder. However, loud or frequent snoring may be a sign you have a very serious condition known as sleep apnea. For more information on sleep apnea, visit our informative what causes sleep apnea page.

Millions of people snore, but this doesn’t mean that snoring should be ignored. If you snore frequently or loudly, make an appointment to talk to Dr Colin Campey, Brisbane Snoring’s head doctor, for an accurate diagnosis and advice on what can be done to stop your snoring.


What are the risk factors of snoring?

There are several factors that increase the chances of an individual snoring, as explained below.

Anatomical structures: Some anatomical abnormalities increase the chances of snoring.

For example, the size of a person’s airway can be directly affected by the shape of their head and neck. The passage of air may be negatively impacted by a thick neck, a large tongue, or enlarged tonsils.

People with craniofacial syndromes may be more susceptible to snoring due to structural abnormalities in the jaw, nose or mouth.

Obesity: Overweight and obese people of all genders are more likely to snore. This is due to the excess fatty tissue around the neck area causing the airway to narrow, making breathing difficult.

Gender: Men are more likely to snore than women. Post-menopausal women are more likely to snore than pre-menopausal women.

Nasal and sinus problems: For some people, snoring is caused by allergies and sinus infections. Nasal polyps and a deviated septum (one nostril is separate from the other) also cause airflow obstructions.

Smoking: Smoking can lead to inflammation in the upper airway and lead to breathing obstructions.

Alcohol consumption or medication: Alcohol consumption, especially late at night, can cause the muscles in the throat to relax, making snoring more likely. Sedatives can have the same effect.

Sleep posture: When some people sleep on their back, their tongue falls back towards their throat and obstructs their airway.

Family history: Snoring is often hereditary.


What are the consequences of snoring?

The consequences of mild, occasional snoring are unlikely to have major impacts on a snorer’s health or overall quality of life.

However, frequent, loud or chronic snoring can have serious consequences for a snorer’s health, working and personal relationships. If a snorer’s breathing becomes compromised to the point where blood oxygen levels drop, this will cause a temporary arousal during sleep, which will, in turn, lead to a poor night’s sleep. Snorers often suffer from poor concentration and sleepiness during the day, a sore throat, high blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.

A major problem caused by snoring (especially loud or frequent snoring) is the disruption it causes to the sleep of other people, such as the snorer’s partner, or even family members sleeping nearby. Some couples resort to sleeping in separate rooms, but Brisbane Snoring offers a much better solution.


How can I tell how bad my snoring is?

Download the free snore lab app from the iTunes store, which allows you to easily record, measure and track your snoring.

During a consultation with Dr Campey ($90 with a portion rebated by Medicare), he will recommend to you that you use this app both before and after you try any home remedies for snoring, or before and after laser snoring treatments.



What is the best treatment to stop snoring?

There are many products on the market (some of which are gimmicks) which claim to reduce snoring, but they don’t actually treat the cause of why an individual actually snores. A snoring cure can only be achieved by reducing how much a snorer’s soft palette vibrates.

Brisbane Snoring’s Nightlase® laser snoring treatment is the only non-surgical and pain-free solution that targets the exact cause of snoring and provides lasting, fast results. The laser snoring therapy performed by our highly skilled doctor focuses a mild yet very effective laser on the soft palate and throat, stimulating new collagen production. This technique makes the back of the throat larger, firmer and less prone to vibration or collapse, thus providing a cure for snoring.


How can Brisbane Snoring help me to stop snoring?

It all starts with a consultation with Dr Campey at our North Lakes Clinic (Consultation is $90 with a Medicare rebate available). Call our friendly staff today on (07) 3482 2999 or contact us online.

For more information on how we can help you get a good night’s sleep, visit our snoring laser treatments page.



Other useful information about snoring


How does snoring impact relationships?

Snoring isn’t just a risk to a snorer’s health – snoring can be very harmful to close personal relationships. Sometimes, partners of snorers resort to sleeping on the couch or in another room in a desperate attempt to get a solid night’s sleep. This can cause feelings of resentment to develop within relationships, and obviously won’t do a couples’ sex life any favours.

Everyone knows that sleep is critical for good physical and mental health, as well as cognitive functioning. A lack of sleep can result in impaired judgement and decision-making, and it can affect an individual’s ability to learn and just function in general. Being tired frequently or all the time can make people irritable, anxious, or even depressed. Combine a bad mood due to lack of sleep with a gradual build-up of resentment and lack of physical intimacy and you have a recipe for disaster within any relationship.

The good news is that the above scenario doesn’t have to occur. Brisbane Snoring can help! If you want your partner to get help for their snoring but you aren’t sure what to say, we’ve included some tips below.


How do I talk to my partner about their snoring?

Talking to a partner about their snoring can be tricky, but it’s important for both of your sakes that you address the issue as soon as you can, and discuss it openly and kindly. If you have a partner who snores, try to remember that they don’t snore intentionally. Below are some tips that might help you broach the topic.

  • Plan what you are going to say. If you don’t take the time to think through what you are going to say, the chances of saying something you’ll regret later will increase.
  • Be honest about your concerns (for both you and your partner). Explain to them that your quality of life is being affected due to a lack of quality sleep. However, try and remember that your partner may feel a degree of guilt for being the reason you’re not getting a good night’s sleep. Instead of focusing solely on how you’re affected, explain the health risks to them if they continue to snore. Remind your partner you care deeply about them and their health. Explain that while having a conversation about snoring may be difficult, you are doing so because your relationship is very important and you don’t want it to be affected by something that may be very easy to fix.
  • The punishment needs to fit the crime. Try not to let your frustration and resentment cause you to lash out and punish your partner. They aren’t snoring deliberately, and they certainly aren’t trying to ruin your life.
  • Depending on your partner’s sense of humour, laugh about it together. This obviously won’t work for everyone, but if you can laugh about the issue with your partner without hurting their feelings, sharing a joke about a serious issue might help to ease any tension and make the conversation a little easier for you both.

If all else fails, you can also discreetly download the snore lab app (free) from the iTunes store. This will allow you to monitor, track and record exactly how frequently, loudly and for how long your partner snorers. When you present them with the undeniable evidence of their snoring problem, they may be more willing to seek advice and treatment.


Is snoring different to obstructive sleep apnea?

Yes, snoring is different to sleep apnea, but there is a relationship between the two. Snoring (soft, moderate or loud) is sometimes a sign of sleep apnea. If a person snores, it doesn’t automatically mean they have sleep apnea though. Their snoring may just be caused by tissues in their airways vibrating. If obstructive sleep apnea is involved, a partial or total blockage of the airway will occur while the person is asleep. Sometimes a person can have obstructive sleep apnea but not snore.

While often annoying and embarrassing for the snorer, simple snoring does not usually cause any serious effects on the snorer’s health. In contrast, obstructive sleep apnea is a serious health risk.

So how can you tell if you snore versus if you have sleep apnea? Unfortunately, there is no simple test or internet quiz that can tell you this – only a qualified medical practitioner can figure out if you suffer from snoring or something more serious. If you have sleep apnea, you may exhibit symptoms such as snoring – but you might not. Because of this, you should address any medical concerns with Brisbane Snoring’s head doctor, Dr Colin Campey, a past snorer himself with over 40 years of experience as a medical practitioner.


Are there home remedies for snoring?

There is a wide range of home remedies individuals can try to reduce their snoring. These remedies are explained below. It’s important to remember that is unlikely these remedies will completely stop your snoring, but they might help.


Does sleeping position affect snoring or sleep apnea?

When you sleep on your back, your soft palate and tongue block your airway by resting against the back of your throat, so try to avoid lying flat on your back, and instead try to sleep on your side. Buying extra pillows and trying to support yourself with them in bed so that you sleep in a propped-up position can be helpful as well. You could also elevate the top third of your mattress by placing a few flat boards under each leg at the top of your bed.

If you find you start off sleeping on your side but end up rolling onto your back during your sleep, try the trusty tennis ball trick. This involves sewing a pouch onto the back of your pyjama top and tucking a tennis ball inside. Yes, this sounds a little strange, but it works – if you start to roll over onto your back during the night, the tennis ball will give you a gentle nudge, and you’ll roll back onto your side.


Does nasal congestion issues cause snoring or sleep apnea?

If you suffer from nasal congestion, take an antihistamine or decongestant before you go to bed. You can also buy nasal strips from chemists, which increase airflow by taping your nostrils open. If you have a head cold or allergy, try shrinking the lining of your throat and nose by gargling with a peppermint mouthwash. You can make this up at home by adding one drop of peppermint oil to a cup of cold water. Make sure you don’t swallow the mouthwash.


Does weight make a difference with snoring and sleep apnea?

Losing weight can cause a noticeable decrease in the severity of snoring. Even a small reduction in weight can make a difference.


Reduce known allergens

Reduce allergens in your bedroom by regularly vacuuming floors and curtains, and changing pillowcases and sheets frequently.


Does smoking increase snoring or sleep apnea?

Smoking causes edema, a swelling in the airway walls. This is because tobacco smoke causes irritation to mucous membranes. Smokers are 4 to 5 times more likely than non-smokers to suffer from severe snoring and a more serious breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.

Other home remedies people can try are sleeping with a soft foam neck brace on, using a humidifier or a steam vaporiser to keep your airways passages moist during sleep, and avoiding eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol within three hours of going to bed.

To learn about a snoring therapy that targets the cause of snoring, visit Brisbane Snoring’s laser snoring treatments page.


Apart from home remedies and laser treatments, what other snoring treatment options are available?

Alternate snoring treatment options include:

  • Small devices which adhere to the inside of the nostrils to increase pressure within the snorer’s airway. This only treats the symptoms of snoring (with limited success), not the cause.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). These machines only have a 40% success rate and many snorers find CPAP air masks very uncomfortable to sleep in.
  • Ear, nose and throat surgery to reduce snoring is often expensive and painful. It usually involves surgical incisions and lengthy downtime. It is often unsuccessful, especially for loud snorers.
  • External nasal strips. There is no scientific proof that these strips reduce snoring; an estimated 5 to 10 percent of snorers might experience some benefit from using nasal strips.


Are there different types of snorers?

Snorers can be grouped into four different types:

  • Mouth shut – these people may have a problem with their tongue and nasal passageways.
  • Mouth wide open –the tissues in the throat are more likely to be the cause of the snoring.
  • Back snorer – sleeping on their back causes people to breathe through their mouths, which can make snoring worse.
  • ‘No matter what’ snorer – these snorers wake themselves (and their partner) up and nothing they try seems to help. These snorers may have a more serious sleeping disorder known as sleep apnea.


Why does my newborn baby snore?

Young babies have very small breathing airways which are filled with secretions. Air collides with these secretions as babies breathe, and as a result, babies make all sorts of noises while they sleep, including whistling, snuffling and snoring. Most of the time, as the baby gets older, their airways expand, and the noises they make during sleep (including snoring) reduce.
Some babies snore because of an allergy, a cold, or an increase in the size of their tonsils or adenoids. Although it is very rare, some babies snore when they are in their deepest sleep stage, because their throat muscles are so relaxed in this state.

Humidifying the air, removing allergens and changing your babies’ sleeping position might help to reduce their snoring.

Most of the time, snoring in babies is nothing to worry about. However, if a baby snores chronically, or if the snoring gets worse as the baby gets older, this could indicate the baby has anatomical abnormalities or sleep apnea.

The above advice is general advice only regarding some of the reasons newborn babies snore. Parents who are concerned that their baby is unable to breathe properly (whether they are awake or asleep) should always treat this as a medical emergency and seek urgent medical help.


Why does my child snore?

Snoring is quite common in children, and it is estimated 10 percent of children snore most nights. Children aged three and above tend to snore during deeper sleep stages. However, just because snoring is common in children, it doesn’t mean it should always be ignored. If a seemingly healthy child snores loudly and regularly, this could be a sign of a blocked nose or allergy, a respiratory infection, or a serious sleeping disorder called sleep apnea.

You should be concerned about your child’s snoring and seek advice from your child’s doctor if:

  • Your child snores loudly.
  • Your child’s breathing pauses during sleep.
  • Your child breathes with their mouth open throughout the night.
  • Your child’s breathing looks uncomfortable. For example, if their chest is not moving easily and smoothly.
  • Your child tosses and turns and is very restless during sleep.
  • Your child is obese, was born prematurely, has had any surgery on the airway or face, has Down syndrome, a chronic medical illness or abnormal muscle weakness. These factors increase the likelihood of the snoring actually being sleep apnea, a serious breathing disorder.

The above advice is general advice only. Parents who are concerned that their child is unable to breathe properly (whether they are awake or asleep) should always treat this as a medical emergency and seek urgent medical help.