An estimated 20 percent of the population snores. Snoring is a symptom of a narrow or closed airway that can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Large tonsils or adenoids
  • Large or soft palate
  • Large tongue
  • Blocked nasal passage due to allergies or other conditions such as a deviated septum

Some people snore only when they sleep on their backs. Others snore regardless of their sleeping position. Snoring can be more severe after drinking alcohol or taking sedatives.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Snoring can be a symptom of a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when your breathing passages are partially or completely blocked. This can cause a drop in your oxygen levels, creating health risks such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Obstructive sleep apnea can prevent you from getting a deep, restful sleep and leave you tired during the day.

If someone has noticed that you sometimes stop breathing when you snore, you should see a sleep specialist for diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.

What Can Be Done for Snoring?

There are a number of ways to help relieve snoring:

  • Weight Loss — If you are overweight, losing weight may help.
  • Surgery — There are many surgical procedures available to treat snoring and sleep apnea. These procedures include repositioning or removing tissue of the nose, throat and jaw. UCSF specialists have expertise in selecting the specific procedure to address each patient's condition.
  • Dental Devices — A dentist specializing in dental devices for snoring can fit you with a dental guard that can either hold your jaw forward, or pull your tongue out to allow for more space in your airway.
  • Positional Training — If you snore only when on your back, then you can train yourself to sleep only on your side.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Sleep Disorders Center
2330 Post St., Suite 420
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 885-7886
Fax: (415) 885-3650

Condition Information