Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone, although it occurs more frequently in men and people who are overweight. Snoring has a tendency to worsen with age. Occasional snoring is usually not very serious and is mostly a nuisance for the partner. However, if you are a habitual snorer, you not only disrupt the sleep patterns of those close to you, but you also impair your own sleep quality. Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. Air flow can be obstructed by a combination of factors, including:
Obstructed nasal airways: Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps can also cause obstruction.
Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption, or use of some sleeping pills.
Bulky throat tissue: Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.
Habitual snorers can be at risk for serious health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea. Not only is snoring a nuisance, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which increases the risk of developing heart disease. Consult your doctor if you snore and have any of the following symptoms or signs:
Excessive daytime sleepiness
Recent weight gain
Awakening in the morning not feeling rested
Awaking at night feeling confused
Change in your level of attention, concentration, or memory
Observed pauses in breathing during sleep
Just about everyone snores occasionally, and it’s usually not something to worry about. But if you regularly snore at night, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. And if your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can create major relationship problems too. Try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, which may help you stop snoring:
Change Your Sleep Position – Lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side may help prevent this. Change your sleeping position. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward.
Keep the air in your bedroom moist – Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help.
Lose Weight – Weight loss helps some people but not everyone. If you’ve gained weight and started snoring and did not snore before you gained weight, weight loss may help.
Avoid Alcohol – Alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. Drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping makes snoring worse. People who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.
Quit smoking – If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring. While quitting is easier said than done, it can bring quick snoring relief.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene – Poor sleep habits (also known as poor sleep hygiene) can have an effect similar to that of drinking alcohol. Working long hours without enough sleep, for example, means when you finally hit the sack you’re overtired.
Open Nasal Passages – If snoring starts in your nose, keeping nasal passages open may help. It allows air to move through slower. If your nose is clogged or narrowed due to a cold or other blockage, the fast-moving air is more likely to produce snoring. A hot shower before you go to bed can help open nasal passages. Also, keep a bottle of saltwater rinse in the shower. Rinse your nose out with it while you’re showering to help open up passages.
Change Your Pillows – Allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow may contribute to snoring. Dust mites accumulate in pillows and can cause allergic reactions that can lead to snoring.
Stay Well Hydrated – Drink plenty of fluids. Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated and this can lead to snoring. These simple practices can make a huge difference in reducing snoring.
If you’ve tried the above self-help solutions for snoring without success, don’t give up hope. There are medical options that could make all the difference. Talk to your doctor about these and which would be best suited for you.