The noise of snoring is caused by vibrations of the tissues at the back of the throat (the uvula and soft palate), as inhaled and exhaled air move past them.
In obstructive sleep apnoea, the airways momentarily become blocked, and breathing stops, only to re-start with a gasp a few seconds later as the body makes a concerted effort to obtain enough oxygen.
Factors that increase the likelihood of being a snorer or developing sleep apnoea include:
- Sleeping on your back
- Being male
- Being obese or overweight
- Having respiratory congestion due to an infection or allergy (e.g. sinusitis, cold, hay fever)
- Being 30-65 years old
- Using sleeping tablets
- Drinking alcohol (especially before bed)