About half of all adults snore occasionally. Regular or habitual snoring definitely has health risks, but those who only snore once in a while may wonder whether they should worry. When you snore every night, it can negatively affect the quality of your sleep. Without enough deep and restful sleep, you’ll feel irritable, exhausted, and unfocused. If snoring causes interruptions in your breathing, the lack of oxygen could lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and other serious issues.
In most cases, though, occasional snoring is not a major problem. The health consequences of snoring tend to worsen over time, but if you don’t snore very often, those consequences probably won’t build up. It might be a nuisance for your partner, but if you only snore occasionally, there’s usually an easy solution.
Causes of Occasional Snoring
The most common cause of occasional snoring is nasal congestion. When one or both of your airways is blocked, you’ll breathe through your mouth while you sleep. Breathing through your mouth increases the chance that your mouth or throat will collapse over your airway and vibrate as air moves through, which causes snoring.
For most people, congestion is a temporary symptom of allergies or the common cold. There’s not much you can do to stop snoring while you’re congested, but as soon as your nasal passages clear up, the problem should go away.
Some people only snore when they sleep in certain positions. Maybe you usually sleep on your side, but you’ve noticed that you always snore when you sleep on your back. Your mouth and throat can collapse more easily when you sleep on your back, so this is a common problem. Fortunately, all you have to do is sleep on your side or stomach to avoid snoring. As long as you don’t find yourself rolling over onto your back and snoring every single night, you shouldn’t worry.
Another cause of occasional snoring is going to sleep shortly after drinking. Alcohol can cause your muscles to relax excessively while you sleep, so your mouth or throat might collapse over your airway. If you only snore after a night of drinking, try to stop drinking at least three hours before you go to sleep.
When to Worry
Snoring once in a while probably won’t have much of an effect on your health. Most of the causes of occasional snoring have easy solutions, too. However, all occasional snorers should stay aware of their snoring habits to make sure that the problem doesn’t become habitual.
Habitual snoring is usually defined as snoring loudly at least three nights per week. If you sleep in bed with a partner, ask them to tell you whenever they hear you snore. Some apps will track your snoring as well, so you can keep track of how many times you snore each week. If you begin snoring several nights per week, it might start to take a toll on your health. You may begin to feel exhausted even after a full night of sleep, and you may have difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing while you sleep. If you sometimes wake up suddenly, gasping for air, you might have sleep apnea. Even if this only happens once a week or once a month, you should speak to your doctor. You may stop breathing several times per night without realizing or remembering.
Occasional snoring is rarely a problem, so you shouldn’t worry if you only snore a few times a month. You should stay aware of your snoring habits, though, so you’ll know if the issue worsens. There are plenty of treatments and devices that help reduce snoring, but you have to be aware of the problem before you can fix it.