How To Stop Snoring

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Stop Snoring

If you’re one of the 90 million Americans who emit strange and disruptive noises while you sleep, you may be trying to figure out how to stop snoring. (1) Your nighttime cacophony may initially prompt some chuckles from your bed partner, but the joke can wear thin over time. 

Snoring can stem from a wide range of causes: some temporary and others more serious. (2) No matter the cause, though, you have plenty of options to stop the snores, and we’ve gathered them all for you below.

Note: The content on Sleepopolis is meant to be informative in nature, but it shouldn’t be taken as medical advice, and it shouldn’t take the place of medical advice and supervision from a trained professional. If you feel you may be suffering from any sleep disorder or medical condition, please see your healthcare provider immediately.

Long Story Short

  • Snoring can have many causes, including sleeping position, blocked nasal passages, weight gain, alcohol consumption, and sleep apnea.
  • You might lessen your snores by adjusting your sleep position, skipping a nightcap, cleaning your bedding, trying out some tongue and throat exercises, and staying hydrated throughout the day.
  • If you snore regularly, it’s always best to let a healthcare provider know, so they can check for sleep apnea.

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring happens when the air flow through your mouth and nose gets partially blocked while you sleep, says Dr. Chris Allen, M.D., sleep medicine physician, pediatric neurologist, and sleep science advisor at Aeroflow Sleep. “This can cause the surrounding tissues in the throat to vibrate, leading to the sound of snoring.”

All kinds of things can create a partial airway obstruction, including:

  • Sleeping position: Lying on your back can kink your airway and make it easier for your tongue to fall back into your throat. (3)
  • Blocked nasal passages: A cold, allergy attack, deviated septum, and even pregnancy can have your nose stuffed up in no time. If any air can get through, it’ll probably make some noise. (2)
  • Weight gain: Excess body weight can make your tongue bigger and your throat more crowded, leading to snore-filled breathing while you sleep. (4)
  • Alcohol: Your favorite alcoholic beverage relaxes your tongue and throat muscles, upping the risk of blockage. (4)
  • Sleep apnea: This sleep disorder is well known for causing loud snoring and pauses in breathing through the night. (2)

When you have a deviated septum, the bone and cartilage that divides your nasal cavity in half is off-center, which can block one side. (5)

Allen says that snoring with your mouth closed might mean your tongue needs repositioning, while open-mouth snoring can be related to throat tissues. He adds that snoring in all positions may indicate a medical problem, which is a good reason to loop your healthcare provider into the snoring situation.

Sleep apnea almost always comes with a side of snoring. (2) (6) With its hallmark pauses in breathing, sleep apnea causes oxygen levels to dip, waking you up throughout the night, says Wells. Not only does this deprive your brain of oxygen, but it keeps you from getting good, deep sleep. (7)

How to Stop Snoring

If you want to learn how to stop snoring, you’re in the right place. We asked our experts how to combat your nighttime noises and created a list of tips to transform your sleep from “sawing logs” to “sleeping like a rock” or something equally silent.

Change Your Sleeping Position

Mild snoring can sometimes be lessened by a position change, says Allen. “Sleeping on your side can prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking the throat, reducing snoring.” (4)

But this is considered a short-term solution, says Audrey Wells, MD, sleep expert and founder of Super Sleep MD. “A lot of people can’t tolerate side sleeping for the entire night because of issues with shoulders, hips, knees, the cervical spine, or the lower lumbar spine.” If snoring keeps on cropping up, it’s best to let a healthcare provider know.

Skip the Nightcap

Alcohol may relax you, but it also relaxes your tongue and throat muscles, increasing the risk of snoring, says Allen. Experts don’t fully agree on the best time to cut off your alcohol intake, with some studies citing two hours before bed, and others saying four or more is best. (8)(9) So, you may need to experiment with your own nightcap cutoff time.

Lose Weight 

When you lose extra weight, the tissues in and around your throat slim down, too. (10) This gives your airway more room, which leads to less snoring, says Allen. (11) But to get the snore-squashing benefits of weight loss, you have to lose at least 10 percent of your body weight, adds Wells. For example, if you weigh 250 pounds, you’d want to shoot for a 25-pound loss.

Open Nasal Passages

“Keeping nasal passages open can help air move through slower, reducing snoring,” says Allen, who recommends a few different methods: 

  • Nasal strips: These stiff adhesive strips applied across the bridge of your nose can increase the area in your nasal passages, although more research is needed to prove they work. (12)(11)
  • Neti Pot: Using a Neti pot with a saline solution can clear your sinuses out and make room for more airflow, says Allen.
  • Hot shower: Some heat and humidity can banish the stuffiest of sinuses, paving the way for clear breathing as you sleep. (13)

“It’s worthwhile to gather some supplies to have on hand in case you have allergies or you’ve come down with a cold,” says Wells, who recommends nasal saline wash and temporary use of medicated nasal sprays like Afrin under the direction of your provider.

Clean Your Bedding 

Dirty sheets create a utopian landscape for dust mites — the little critters that thrive on the dead skin cells we shed in our beds. (Yuck, we know!) (14) These and other allergens in your bedding can promote snoring, so washing it regularly can help banish snores, says Allen. (15)

Invest in Pillows with Better Support

How can a pillow keep your snores at bay, you ask? If you try to touch your chin to your chest and take a deep breath in that position, you’ll notice it’s not so easy to pull in air. The same positioning can happen at night, which — paired with relaxed muscles — can cause snoring. (16)

One study found the right pillow can angle your neck so your airways get as much space as possible. (17) And, as we know, more throat space equals less snoring.

Stay Hydrated 

Dehydration can lead to the formation of sticky mucus in the mouth and throat, which can lead to snoring,” says Allen. During sleep, your tongue is supposed to rest on the roof of your closed mouth, adds Wells, and a dry mouth makes it harder to keep your mouth closed while snoozing. “And even that slight effect with the hinge of your jaw can crimp your airway enough to snore for some people,” Wells says.

Stay hydrated by limiting alcohol, trying a room humidifier, and drinking decaffeinated fluids throughout the day. (18)(19

Try a Mouth Guard

Custom mouth guards can be very effective for snoring, says Wells, which work by pulling tissues forward to open up the airway. Over-the-counter mouth guards rarely work as well, and can even make snoring worse, she adds. “It’s best to have a custom one that’s made by a dentist who has experience in fabricating these devices.”

Quit Smoking

Smoking cigarettes makes your airways swell up, which narrows your airway and can cause snoring. That smoke and the nicotine you pull into your lungs can also put you at a higher risk for sleep apnea. (20) The sooner you can quit the habit, the faster you can open up those airways again and quietly sleep the night away. 

Watch Your Bedtime Snack Choices

If you must have a snack before lights out, the type of foods you choose can spell out your snoring future. For example, salty foods will make you retain water, says Wells. “And when you lay flat, the fluid redistributes so that there’s more [swelling] in your upper airway and even your face.” All that puffy tissue can easily push into your airway and pave the way for all-night snoring. (21)

Exercises to Stop Snoring

While it’s always a good idea to check any snoring out with your healthcare provider, you can try some exercises that may help kick that snoring to the curb (or at least snore less). Trying out oral gymnastics can help by strengthening the muscles in the mouth and throat, says Allen.

Vowel Repetition

When you audibly voice vowel sounds, your tongue gets a mini-workout, and experts have found this can decrease snoring. (22)

This exercise is as simple as it sounds: say each vowel sound (a, e, i, o, and u) for a second or two and try to exaggerate them as much as possible. Repeat until your voice gets tired. (23) (Do this one in front of people for added entertainment.)

Tongue Exercises

Tongue-strengthening, snore-reducing exercises come with multiple options. In one, you place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth and slide it backward. Repeat for three minutes a day. 

A second exercise involves holding these positions for 10 seconds each: stick out your tongue, lift it up toward your nose, try to touch it to your chin, and stretch it left, then right. Repeat ten times and your tongue will be on its way to better stability while you sleep. (23)

Jaw Exercises

Jaw exercises also come in more than one “flavor.” For one, open your mouth wide and move your lower jaw left and right. Then close your mouth slightly and do it again. Repeat these steps between five and ten times. 

In another option, you can purse your lips tight over your teeth, then relax and open your mouth slowly. Repeat this 10 times for best results. (23)


“Singing can strengthen the muscles of the throat and soft palate, reducing snoring,” says Allen. One study found that playing a wind instrument can do the same thing, but you can stick with singing if you don’t want to pull your high school saxophone out of storage. (24)

While experts don’t tell us exactly how long to sing, they do say daily is best. (25) So throw on your favorite album and sing your heart out!

When to See a Doctor

All these exercises may help you stop snoring, but they unfortunately don’t come with a 100 percent guarantee. If your snoring just won’t quit and you snore most nights, let your provider know, says Wells — especially if you also wake up gasping or if your bed partner notices your breathing pauses for a few seconds periodically throughout the night.

“I would also recommend people get evaluated if they’re having problems with memory and concentration during the day, and problems driving or performing high vigilance activities,” says Wells. If you’re at all unsure, let your provider know. The worst they can say is, “You’re just fine.”


What is the main cause of snoring?

Snoring happens when the air flow through your mouth and nose gets partially blocked while you sleep, says Allen. “This can cause the surrounding tissues in the throat to vibrate, leading to the sound of snoring.”

Does snoring mean I have sleep apnea?

No, it doesn’t, says Wells. You can land anywhere on the spectrum of sleep breathing problems: from primary snoring with no detectable cause to sleep apnea, which needs diagnosis and treatment, says Wells.

The Last Word From Sleepopolis 

Snoring can be a real bummer – for you and anyone nearby. But you don’t have to settle for a life of teasing, midnight partner punches, and sleep interruptions. Exercise the muscles around your airway and see if it works. If it doesn’t, you can hold up that white flag all the way into your provider’s office — they can help you get to the bottom of your nocturnal racket and find the best fix.


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Wells, Audrey, MD. Personal Interview. March 21, 2024.

        Allen, Chris, MD. Personal Interview. March 25, 2024.

Abby McCoy

Abby McCoy

Abby McCoy is an RN of 16 years who has worked with adults and pediatric patients encompassing trauma, orthopedics, home care, transplant, and case management. She has practiced nursing all over the world from San Fransisco, CA to Tharaka, Kenya. Abby loves spending time with her husband, four kids, and their cat named Cat.