You’ve always slept soundly, but now your partner is waking you up every few hours in the night. The reason? Your snoring is keeping them up.
This can be a shock if you consider yourself a non-snorer, or if your partner has never complained of noise before. But there are many reasons why you can start snoring all of a sudden. And some are lifestyle changes you have control over and can potentially reverse, getting back to a peaceful night’s sleep for you and anyone listening.
Snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, which can be life-threatening if not treated. But even if your sudden snoring isn’t a sign of the sleep disorder, it can easily be disrupting your sleep and your partner’s sleep, causing low energy levels and an endless list of health issues, so it’s worth getting to the bottom of it.
Below, we’ll go through the factors that can cause you to start snoring suddenly and what you can do to stop it. Plus, we share how the RISE app can help.
Snoring happens when your throat muscles relax while you sleep and soft tissue hangs into your airways. When you breathe, the flow of air has to move around and over this soft tissue, making it vibrate — and this causes the sound we hear as snoring.
Many people snore — 51% of men and 40% of women to be exact.
Common causes of snoring include:
There are certain factors that make your throat muscles more likely to relax, and therefore you are more likely to snore. These include:
Whether snoring is dangerous or not will all depend on the type of snoring you’re experiencing.
For example, if you snore lightly and only infrequently, it’s probably nothing to worry about. If you snore loudly, more than three nights a week, and you have symptoms of, or predisposing risk factors to, sleep apnea (more on this soon), you should speak to a doctor as your snoring could be causing health problems.
Here’s how snoring can be dangerous.
Snoring is a common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that can be life-threatening if left untreated.
When you have sleep apnea, your airways close as you sleep, cutting off your breathing for 10 seconds or more. Your brain eventually detects this and wakes you up to kick-start your breathing again. You might find yourself waking up gasping for air, or you may not even notice these micro-awakenings.
These episodes can happen 30 or more times an hour, leading to low oxygen levels and serious sleep disruption.
Sleep apnea symptoms include:
Risk factors include being overweight, older, consuming alcohol, smoking, and sleeping on your back.
Speak to a doctor if you think you have sleep apnea. You can learn more about how to know if you have sleep apnea here.
Not all snoring is sleep apnea, but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Snoring can lead to micro-awakenings in the snorer, either through the noise they’re making or through their disordered breathing.
You may notice that snoring isn’t just affecting your nights, but your days, too, with lowered energy, mood, and productivity. And snoring can lead to daytime sleepiness in the snorer, which can be dangerous when driving, for example.
It’s also a vicious circle as snoring can lead to sleep deprivation, but sleep deprivation can make snoring worse.
Not sure if snoring is waking you up during the night? The RISE app can track your sleep and show you times you’ve woken up.
If you share a bed with someone, the chances are your snoring will impact them. They may not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep, leading to sleep deprivation, low energy levels, and the many health impacts of sleep loss, like obesity, heart disease, and premature death.
You can learn more about how to sleep when someone is snoring here.
Snoring is almost always a problem as it can easily affect your sleep and next-day energy levels, as well as those of anyone who has to listen to your snoring. So, it’s worth getting to the bottom of your recent snoring, even if it’s not sleep apnea.
Consider yourself a non-snorer, but now your nights are noisy? There are a few reasons you might be snoring all of a sudden.
We hate to break it to you, but you may not have just started snoring, you may have been a snorer all along.
You could have just discovered you snore if:
You might have made a recent lifestyle change that has kick-started your snoring. Lifestyle changes could have also made mild snoring louder or more frequent.
Causes of this could be:
Your new snoring may not be down to something you’ve done, it may be a change in circumstances that you have no control over, such as:
As we mentioned above, it’s always worth getting to the root cause of your snoring to stop sleep deprivation, low energy levels, and all the adverse health effects that come from those two things affecting you and your partner.
Snoring treatments will vary depending on what’s causing your snoring, but here are some first steps to try and treat your sudden onset of snoring.
Sleep apnea is more common than you think. It’s the second-most common sleep disorder, after insomnia, and it could affect 2% to 4% of the population. Plus, up to one in four Americans could benefit from a sleep apnea evaluation.
Speak to a doctor or sleep specialist about sleep apnea if:
You can be tested for sleep apnea either in a sleep center or with devices you can wear while sleeping at home.
There are many treatments out there for sleep apnea that can help improve the condition, and often the snoring that comes with it.
You can learn more about how to get rid of sleep apnea here.
Sleeping on your back can cause snoring as gravity pulls soft tissue into your airways, obstructing them. It’s also easier for your tongue to fall back and block the airways.
In those with sleep apnea, about 56% have position-dependent sleep apnea and their symptoms are 50%, or more, worse when they sleep on their backs (dive deeper: What position is best for sleep apnea?). But even for those without sleep apnea, sleeping on your side has been shown to reduce snoring, both how long you spend snoring each night and how intense the snoring is.
So, if possible, train yourself to sleep on your side. You can buy pillows and mattresses that make side sleeping more comfortable, or wear a special vest or belt that makes back sleeping very uncomfortable — these are useful if you find yourself rolling onto your back in your sleep.
If a recent injury or back pain stops you from sleeping on your side, or you’ve otherwise recently found this position uncomfortable, try sleeping on your back with your head elevated to keep your airways open. Wedge-shaped pillows or adjustable base beds can help here.
A nightcap before bed might make you feel sleepy, but alcohol can not only cause you to wake up during the night, it increases your odds of snoring, too. It causes your throat muscles to relax, making your airways more prone to collapsing.
If you’ve recently started drinking more or drinking later in the day, try cutting back and avoiding alcohol about three to four hours before bed.
To find out the best time to stop drinking for your sleep, turn to the RISE app. RISE can tell you the ideal time to have your last alcoholic drink of the day based on your body clock.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their avoid late alcohol reminder.
If your new snoring is caused by nasal or sinus congestion, treat the problem at the source.
You can try:
You may find you snore while you suffer through a cold or through allergy season, and then the problem goes away. It’s still worth seeking a solution, though, as nights of sleep deprivation can add up.
Not getting enough sleep can make snoring and sleep apnea worse. But it’s a vicious circle as snoring can make getting enough sleep hard. You might be woken up during the night by your snoring, woken up by your partner desperate to make your snoring stop, or woken up momentarily by disordered breathing and not even notice the disruption.
One small sleep study found when participants were sleep deprived, they spent more time snoring during the night — this was true for participants both with and without sleep apnea. For participants with the sleep disorder, sleep deprivation caused significantly more sleep apnea episodes.
So, if you’ve recently been experiencing sleep loss, this may be the reason for your sudden new snoring.
To reverse this, focus on meeting your sleep need. This is the genetically determined amount of sleep you need each night — and it’s not eight hours for everyone.
Turn to the RISE app to find out your unique number. The app uses a year’s worth of phone use data and proprietary sleep-science-based models to work out your sleep need down to the minute.
If you haven’t been meeting your sleep need recently, you’ll have been building up sleep debt. This is the running total of how much sleep you owe your body. We measure this over your past 14 nights.
Check RISE to see how much sleep debt you’re carrying. We recommend keeping this below five hours to feel and function your best, and paying back sleep debt may help to reduce your snoring.
You can pay back sleep debt by:
To help you keep your sleep debt low, RISE can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits each day. Sleep hygiene is important for everyone, but especially for snorers as your sleep is already compromised.
With great sleep hygiene, you’ll be making sure nothing else gets in the way of a good night's sleep, and the sleep you do get while snoring is the best it can be.
Bonus: getting enough sleep can help with weight loss, which can also contribute to snoring.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep need.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to view their sleep debt.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications.
You can learn more about how to stop snoring here.
Sudden snoring could be caused by lifestyle changes like not getting enough sleep recently, drinking more alcohol, trying sleep aids, or gaining weight. But new snoring can also be caused by things out of our control like pregnancy or allergies. You may have also always been a snorer and only just discovered your nighttime noise-making habit.
Either way, snoring is something that’s worth getting to the bottom of. It can cause sleep deprivation in both you and anyone who can hear your snoring. And as poor sleep affects everything from your energy levels to your mood, your productivity to your overall health and wellness, we say anything impacting your sleep is worth checking out.
Use the RISE app to find out your sleep need and how much sleep debt you’ve got. The app can then keep track of sleep debt as you work to pay it back, increasing your energy levels and reducing your risk of snoring as you do so.
Plus, RISE can coach you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits and when to do them each day to make them more effective. This will help you get enough sleep each night and stop anything else from impacting your nights, and therefore your days.
If you suddenly start snoring, something may be causing your airways to get more relaxed and block airflow. This could be sleep deprivation, sleeping on your back, alcohol, or sleep aids. There may also be a physical change in your mouth or airways due to weight gain, allergies, or injury for example.
You should be worried about snoring if your snoring is loud or happens more than three nights a week; your bed partner notices your breathing stops during the night; or you have sleep apnea symptoms like a sore throat, headache, or dry mouth in the morning.
The most common reason for snoring is the muscles in your mouth and throat relaxing and soft tissue obstructing your airways as you breathe. This can be caused by sleeping on your back, alcohol, sleep deprivation, sleep aids, or weight gain.
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