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Snoring can stop you sleeping well

apnoea; tonsils; adenoids; sleep; breathing; throat; snore; snoring;


What is snoring?

Some people make a noise as they sleep. It happens when air can't freely move through their nose and mouth down into their lungs when they are asleep.

When someone is sleeping, muscles at the back of the throat relax making the airway narrow, so they make the snoring sound that can drive other people crazy.

Even worse, sometimes people who snore stop breathing for up to 30 seconds or more, hundreds of times each night because their throat blocks, so air can't get down into their lungs. This is called sleep apnoea (ap-nee-a). They feel really tired when they wake up!

So, do you snore? Because people only snore when they are asleep you can't know if others are telling the truth if they say you are snoring - unless they record the snoring. You can't hear yourself snoring when you are really asleep.

Common causes of snoring

People snore for many different reasons.

  • Allergies caused by pollen or dust at certain times of the year can make the lining of the nose and throat swell. This makes it harder for air to get through and can cause snoring.
  • A cold or sinusitis (say s-eye –no-sye- tus) can do this too.
  • Tonsils or adenoids (say ad-en-oyds) can get swollen when they are working overtime trapping harmful germs, which are trying to get into your body through your mouth and nose as you breathe. They can get so big that they almost block the air passages.
  • Being overweight can cause air passages to be narrow.
  • The septum (sep-tum), that is the bit that separates the two nostrils inside the nose, may be crooked. This is called a ‘deviated –dee-vee-ay-ted) septum' and it may cause the person to snore. If this is a problem it can be fixed by an operation to straighten out the septum. The person may be able to breathe more easily as well as stopping snoring.
  • Drinking alcohol can make the tongue and throat muscles relax too much. This can block air coming through the mouth and nose and can cause snoring or make snoring worse.

Do you snore?

  • Maybe someone in your family told you that you snore.
  • Maybe you woke up suddenly when air could not get down to your lungs. You might have heard yourself make a big snorting noise. The noise maybe didn't wake you up but it can sure sound loud to anyone nearby!
  • Maybe your doctor found that your tonsils or adenoids are really large. You may need an operation to take them out to help you breathe and sleep better.
  • Maybe you only snore when you have an allergy or bad cold.
  • Maybe you feel tired all the time because you are not getting a good sleep.
  • Maybe you have trouble concentrating at school because you can't breathe well while you are asleep.

Snoring can be a family problem

Whether it is you or someone else in the family who snores it can be a problem for the whole family.

Snoring can keep others awake or can wake them up lots of times during the night. Then everyone gets tired and grumpy because they have not had a good rest.

If the snorer has sleep apnoea (say ap-nee-a) it can be scary for people listening to them because they keep on stopping breathing.


Do you have sleep apnoea?

Maybe someone at home has heard you snoring and stopping breathing lots of times each night. Maybe you are having trouble at school because you are not getting enough good sleep. A lot of kids who get into trouble at school because of their behaviour (maybe teachers and parents think they have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder-ADHD for short) actually are having bad sleep because of sleep apnoea.

Your doctor might get you to go for a 'sleep study'. You would go to a hospital for one night and get connected up to machines that can record all the movements you make while you are sleeping and how much oxygen is in your blood. It may feel a bit weird, but it's really useful for the doctor who will then know whether you need treatment. You get to go home early enough to have breakfast at home and then go to school if it is a school day.

Sometimes kids have to have their tonsils and adenoids removed because they have sleep apnoea.

Sometimes adults (and some kids too) have to wear a special mask while they sleep. This helps keep their throat open so they can breathe better.

Tips from kids on how to stop snoring

Lots of people have strange ideas about things that might stop someone from snoring. They don't work! If they did then snoring would not be as big a problem as it is. 

Some of the things that people try:

  • "Most snoring starts when a person is lying on his/her back. So some people sew a tennis ball into the back of their PJ top so that it is uncomfortable to lie on their backs and they roll onto their sides."
    • Dr Kim says "How uncomfortable would that be? Some people don't snore so much when they lie on their side, but lots do still snore."
  • "You can try using a mouthguard, even try your sports mouthguard - it may work."
    • Dr Kate says "Mouthguards can't work because they sit in the front of your mouth while the blocked airway is in the back of your mouth."
  • "My dad uses those nasal strips which some footy players use to help him breathe easier. He still snores sometimes though."
    • Dr Kim says "This also can't work because the strips can only hold the front part of the nose open."
  • "Try having 2 pillows instead of one."  
    • Dr Kate says "When you think about this, it would kink your neck up and make it even harder to breathe!"
  • "My dad and uncle always snore. I have to close my ears because I can't sleep." Unsa

Dr Kate says

Dr KateMost kids snore at some time. If you have allergies or asthma, taking your medication before going to bed can open your airways and help you sleep better.

If you are snoring lots, ask mum, dad or whoever looks after you whether you could have a talk with your doctor about it.

Not getting enough good sleep can lead to problems with learning, behaviour and sleepiness in the daytime and sleep apnoea increases the risk of heart problems in adults.

Interesting stuff about snoring

  • If you have sleep apnoea you won't get enough dreaming sleep and you won't feel very good when you wake up.  
  • pets often snoreLots of animals snore, including some gorillas, dogs, bears and cats.
  • If you have a large neck it might be because you snore. Men usually snore more than women, so more men have a large neck.
  • Playing the didgeridoo can stop snoring! If you can play it properly and use cyclic (sy-clik) breathing then the exercise strengthens the throat and pharyngeal (say fa-rin-jee-al) muscles. (Cyclic breathing is when you can breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth so that you can keep blowing the instrument constantly). This helps to keep the airways clear.Don't practice during the night though - or you will keep everyone awake.
  • In the Guinness book of records the loudest snorer ever recorded was Melvin Swizer. At 92db his snoring was noisier than a food blender (90dB). It must have been hard to sleep at his house!
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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