Sometimes sleep apnea is diagnosed because a partner wakes up night after night disrupted by deep, loud snoring and finally insists their loved one participates in a sleep study. Not all who snore have sleep apnea, but it’s often a hallmark of this common sleep disorder. Treatment for sleep apnea includes the use of a CPAP machine, which should eliminate or reduce snoring. So if you or your partner have been diagnosed with sleep and are still snoring with CPAP therapy, there may be a problem with how your CPAP equipment is performing.
Snoring happens when the flow of air through the nose and mouth is physically blocked. An airway obstruction can be caused by the following (which isn’t comprehensive):
- Long soft palate or uvula
- Poor muscle tone in tongue or throat
- Obstructed nasal airways
- Bulky throat tissue
Snoring with CPAP treatment could indicate an issue with your sleep therapy set-up, so it’s worth exploring the at-home fixes below or talking with your primary care physician about solutions to stop snoring.
Is It Normal to Still Snore While Using a CPAP Machine?
Still snoring with CPAP is not normal. CPAP stops snoring by delivering a constant flow of continuous positive airway pressure to your upper airway, which prevents the soft palate, uvula, and tongue from shifting into the airway and reduces the vibration that creates the sound of snoring.
If you are still snoring while using CPAP equipment after several days, connect with your primary care physician or sleep care provider. Do not make adjustments to your CPAP settings on your own.
Does CPAP Therapy Reduce Snoring?
You may be wondering, “Does a CPAP machine stop snoring?” In short, yes! Sleep therapy can—and should—reduce snoring, but since snoring has other causes, starting CPAP therapy may not completely stop snoring. As mentioned, a CPAP machine uses continuous positive airway pressure designed to keep the throat more open throughout the night, which helps reduce breathing events and prevents breathing (apneic) events.
Does Everyone With Sleep Apnea Snore?
Forty-five percent of adults snore and 25% are habitual snorers; in people with sleep apnea, snoring occurs in 85% to 98% of adults. Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors that may or may not be related to sleep apnea.
There are several things you can do to help prevent snoring, like sleeping on your back or avoiding alcohol or heavy meals before bedtime, but if you have sleep apnea, you or your partner may only notice a difference in your snoring once you start using a CPAP machine.
Snoring can be minimized by losing weight, treating nasal congestion, elevating your head while you sleep, avoiding smoking, and staying hydrated. However, people with sleep apnea who snore should not rely on these tactics to treat their sleep apnea. Using more pillows or giving up smoking, for example, can help prevent some snoring, but neither are considered a form of sleep apnea treatment in any way.
Why Is It Bad to Snore While Sleeping?
Snoring causes sleep disruptions which can lead to irritability, daytime sleepiness, poor cognitive function, depression, lower sex drive, weakened immunity, and potentially some life-threatening conditions like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, or heart failure.
Correcting snoring with CPAP treatment and other steps, like refraining from alcohol and cigarette use, can help you and your get better sleep. Getting adequate sleep helps reduce stress and illness, improves your mood, and can lower your risk for serious health conditions.
Top Four Reasons You May Be Still Snoring With CPAP — and How to Stop
There are several reasons you may be still snoring with CPAP:
- Your pressure settings may need to be adjusted (never make adjustments without talking with your doctor first). High pressure settings can cause snoring or may indicate your equipment is causing leaks. Contact your primary care physician or sleep care specialist if your settings seem off; you may need another titration study to get the correct pressure.
- There are air gaps in certain areas—like the nose or mouth—causing mask leaks, which can significantly impact the effectiveness of your sleep therapy. To help correct leaks, you can try a new mask style or mask accessories like nasal pillow liners, nasal gel pads, or eye shields.
- You may breathe through your mouth, which can cause a snoring continuation and lead to other issues like morning headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and digestive issues. Breathing from your mouth depletes your carbon dioxide levels and decreases your blood circulation, too. If you are a mouth breather, you would benefit most from a full face mask.
- You sleep on your back, which can prevent the air pressure in the machine from opening your airways. Instead, change your current sleeping position and consider a mask made for side sleepers.
If you’re still snoring while using CPAP, you may need to have a doctor adjust your pressure settings or change your current CPAP mask set-up. Still snoring with CPAP may indicate an issue with your CPAP equipment, and the issue should be addressed to ensure you (and your partner) are receiving quality sleep and reaping the full benefits of sleep apnea treatment.