Sleep plays a very important role in your physical health, but snoring can impair your sleep quality as well as the sleep patterns of those around you. Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone, and it occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed when you are asleep. It can be caused by having a narrow airway, being overweight, drinking alcohol, or nasal problems such as a deviated septum.There are certain steps you can take that may alleviate occasional snoring, such as sleeping on your side, losing weight, and avoiding alcohol close to bedtime. Occasional snoring is usually not serious, but if you are a habitual snorer, you may have a sleep disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This condition causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night.If you experience (or your partner observes) excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or that of others, intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep, or waking up gasping or choking, talk to your doctor to find out if you should be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea may put you at risk for other complications such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, and stroke.Getting enough quality sleep at the right times protects your physical and mental health – if you are having trouble sleeping, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor to talk about your options.