Health Watch -- Stop the Snoring

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

The gym could be your key to quieter nights.

If someone in your home is keeping you awake with snoring, a gym membership may be a gift that benefits both of you. Snoring occurs when the palate - the soft tissue at the roof of the mouth - obstructs the airway. The tissue vibrates when you breathe in and out, causing the familiar snoring sound. There are a number of factors that lead to or worsen snoring. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say one of them is obesity.

When you gain weight, your palate gets thicker. Dr. JR Williams, a UT Southwestern ear, nose and throat specialist, says the thicker palate creates an airway obstruction that makes snoring worse. Losing weight and getting in shape can help reduce snoring. When people lose 15 pounds or more, the palate shrinks, and that can help relieve snoring.

Some cases of snoring may be a sign of a more serious health problem. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing briefly several times throughout the night. Signs of obstructive sleep apnea include daytime fatigue and morning headaches. If you notice these symptoms, you should see a doctor.

A doctor will give you a complete physical and take a thorough medical history. In some cases you may need an overnight sleep study, in which your vital signs, including respiration, are monitored to track your sleep patterns. Once doctors understand the mechanics behind your sleep disturbance, they can make more specific recommendations.


May 2004