Don’t let snoring ruin your relationship or a good night’s sleep. Learn what causes snoring, how to stop snoring while sleeping on your back, and healthy sleep solutions for fixing the problem, and how you—and your partner—can sleep better.

What is snoring?

Just about everyone snores occasionally, and it’s usually not something to worry about. Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or floppy tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing.

If you regularly snore at night it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. And if your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can create major relationship problems too. Thankfully, sleeping in separate bedrooms isn’t the only remedy for snoring. There are many effective solutions that can help both you and your partner sleep better at night and overcome the relationship problems caused when one person snores.

What causes snoring?

Since people snore for different reasons, it’s important to understand the causes behind your snoring. Once you understand why you snore, you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep—for both you and your partner.

Common causes of snoring include:

Age. As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases. While you can’t do anything about growing older, lifestyle changes, new bedtime routines, and throat exercises can all help to prevent snoring.

Being overweight or out of shape: Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all it takes to end your snoring.

The way you’re built: Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. Again, while you have no control over your build or gender, you can control your snoring with the right lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises.

Nasal and sinus problems: Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.

Alcohol, smoking, and medications: Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.

Sleep posture: Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help.