Do you start sawing logs the moment your head hits the pillow? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Approximately 40-percent of adult males and 24-percent of adult females are habitual snorers, according to sleepeducation.org. And while occasional snoring is rather common, frequent snoring can wreak havoc on your sleep and disrupt your partner’s slumber. Plus, it can cause some serious health problems.
You may experience an increase in snoring as you get older. Snoring is also more common in adults who are carrying extra pounds. People who sleep on their backs tend to snore more than folks who sleep in other positions.
Alcohol and other depressants cause the throat muscles to relax, which can also lead to snoring. If you are suffering with allergies or congestion from a cold, it’s highly likely you’ll experience increased snoring.
Snoring: Not Just a Nuisance
On top of being a nuisance and causing relationship problems, snoring has been linked to many health issues, including:
- Poor sleep: Many chronic snorers don’t realize they’re waking up several times each night. This makes it difficult to enter the REM sleep stage, which is vital for physical and mental health.
- Interrupted breathing: According to org, approximately 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a condition in which the airway becomes obstructed repeatedly during sleep.
- Headaches: Chronic snoring can lead to daytime headaches, which can have a negative impact on quality of life.
- Heart strain: Individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and snoring often have high blood pressure; some even face developing an enlarged heart. This serious health condition can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
- Arrhythmias: Snoring can cause irregular heart rhythms, including atrial fibrillation, which causes poor blood flow.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): When the airway is obstructed during sleep, stomach contents can move back into the esophagus due to pressure.
- Anxiety and Depression: Snoring that leads to inadequate sleep can negatively impact your mental health. Individuals who experience daytime sleepiness have a greater chance of experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
- Decreased sexual satisfaction: Studies have linked snoring and poor sleep quality to a decrease in sexual pleasure. Fortunately, once snoring and/or sleep disorders are treated, sexual satisfaction tends to improve.
While it’s helpful to understand what causes snoring and the condition’s health implications, you’re probably wondering how to stop it. There are a myriad of remedies to stop snoring in its tracks. Sleep quieter tonight with the following tips, tricks and treatments. Some are as simple as changing your sleep position, while others may require a medical intervention.
Try These Snoring Remedies First
1. Roll Over
The simplest solution for snoring is rolling onto your side. When you sleep on your back, your tongue and soft palate naturally collapse. This chain of events causes vibrations in the throat, which explains why snoring occurs.
If you’ve been sleeping on your back for years, training your body to relax in a new position may take some time. We recommend treating yourself to a body pillow, as cuddling up to a comfy, body-length pillow will help you snooze on your side.
If you’re intent on sleeping on your back, elevating the head of your bed may keep airways open, which could lead to a decrease in snoring. Unfortunately, you may be trading one problem for another, as sleeping in an elevated position can quite literally be a pain in the neck.
2. Lose Those Extra Pounds
For some individuals, losing excess body weight can reduce or eliminate snoring. It’s important to note, however, that even thin people snore. If you’re packing a few extra pounds, weight loss won’t necessarily make you a quieter sleeper—but it could.
Experts have found that carrying extra weight around the neck can cause snoring. If you’ve noticed a recent fluctuation in your weight and are experiencing increased snoring, it’s likely that the two are related.
3. Breathe Easier
If you’re congested from a cold or allergies, chances are you’ll snore. Try rinsing your sinuses with saline before hitting the hay. We also recommend asking your physician or pharmacist if a nasal decongestant may be helpful.
Decongestants work by shrinking swollen blood vessels, making you more comfortable and less likely to snore. Nasal decongestants are available as a spray, as well as in liquid and pill form.
Nasal strips can also open up nasal passages, as can a neti pot. If you are an allergy sufferer, treating those allergies can make a big difference in your sleep quality and reduce or alleviate snoring.
Make sure your bedding is washed regularly, and keep your bedroom clean to keep dust mites at bay. This step is especially important if you have pets.
Many folks overlook the importance of replacing their pillows. Sniffling and sneezing could be a sign that it’s time to ditch your current pillow and treat yourself to a new one.
4. Use a Humidifier
It’s common for the air in your home to get dry, especially in the cold winter months. Add moisture to the air by using a humidifier in your bedroom. Along with drying out the skin, dry air can cause irritation in the nose and throat, which can trigger snoring.
Humidifiers are especially helpful for those suffering with a cold or the flu.
5. Avoid Alcohol and Other Depressants
As previously mentioned, alcohol and other depressants can cause throat muscles to relax, narrowing the airway and making it difficult to breathe while you’re sleeping. Folks who take prescription sleep medications often experience deeper sleep, which can cause an increase in snoring.
Talk to your physician about the medications you take and if they may contribute to your snoring.
6. Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Believe it or not, burning the candle at both ends and not getting enough shuteye could be making you snore. Get adequate sleep to improve your overall health and decrease the likelihood of snoring.
To get the most out of your slumber, establish a bedtime routine. Relaxing before bed may help you fall asleep faster and help you snooze more soundly.
7. Watch What You Eat Before Bed
Food you consume before bed could actually lead to snoring. Dairy products have been linked to sawing logs. Eating large quantities of food before bedtime has also been known to cause snoring.
8. Exercise Regularly
Establishing a fitness routine could help you snore less. Exercise tones muscles, including the muscles in the throat. The National Sleep Foundation recommends three targeted mouth exercises to help tighten the neck and throat muscles and, in turn, alleviate snoring. You can find thorough instructions to these simple mouth exercises here.
9. Quit Smoking
Smokers are often snorers, as smoke irritates the tissue in the nose and throat and can lead to a blocked airway. If you’ve been wanting to quit, consider this the push you need to give up the habit for good.
Still Sawing Logs? Thankfully, there are a plethora of medical interventions that could put a stop to your snoring. If you’ve tried the above remedies with little success, the following treatments may be your best bet.
Advanced Treatments for Snoring
1. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
You’ve probably heard of a CPAP machine—a common apparatus that delivers a constant flow of positive pressure to the throat to keep the airway open throughout the night.
Physicians often recommend CPAP machines to individuals with obstructive sleep apnea, as well as chronic snorers.
Despite their proven success, CPAP machines aren’t for everyone. Some men and women complain that the machine causes dry nasal passages and skin irritation. Others unknowingly take off the mask during the night or simply can’t fall asleep with it on. In these cases, there are alternative interventions that may be helpful.
2. Custom Dental/Oral Devices
Dentists and orthodontists often recommend custom-fitted mouth guards or other oral devices to assist with habitual snoring. The mandibular advancement device is rather common. Similar in appearance to a mouth guard used in sports, this device opens the airway by lowering the jaw and moving it slightly forward.
Another common device is a splint for the tongue, which keeps the airway open by holding the tongue in place.
One downfall with mouth guards and other dental devices is the fact that they may need to be adjusted or replaced over time. For most folks, however, the benefits outweigh the hassle.
3. Pillar Procedure
In some cases, physicians recommend implanting minuscule polyester rods into the soft palate. As the tissue around the implant heals and hardens, chronic snorers are likely to experience less snoring, as the stiff tissue will be unable to relax as it did before the procedure.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the pillar procedure can be performed in a physician’s office under local anesthesia.
4. Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)
Some men and women have an oversized or elongated uvula, which is the dangling piece of flesh in the back of your throat. The uvula helps with throat lubrication, speech, eating, and immunology. However, when the uvula is enlarged or too long, it can obstruct the airway, causing numerous medical problems, including snoring.
Like with the pillar procedure highlighted above, the LAUP procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia. You’ll likely be referred to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist to perform this procedure.
The LAUP is minimally invasive and involves shrinking the uvula to open up the airway by removing excess tissue. Thanks to advanced technology, many physicians now utilize lasers to perform this treatment, so recovery time is minimal.
Similar to LAUP, somnoplasty targets the uvula and is an in-office procedure performed under local anesthesia. Using heat energy, excess tissue is reduced and the remaining tissue is stiffened, which keeps the airway open during sleep.
This outpatient procedure takes just 30 minutes and is regularly performed to reduce snoring and help with other medical conditions, including chronic nasal obstruction and obstructive sleep apnea.
Many physicians will try several minimally invasive procedures before recommending surgery for snoring. In some cases, your doctor may recommend Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), which involves the removal of the tonsils and adenoids.
Snoring and Intimate Relationships
If your bedmate snores, be sure to address the issue. Habitual snorers often have no idea how serious the condition is until it is brought to their attention. Not only is your partner’s snoring wreaking havoc on his or her health; it’s likely impacting your sleep quality and overall health as well. Encourage your partner to try the remedies above, and if all else fails, suggest a visit to the doctor.
A Final Note
Not sure if you snore? Daytime tiredness is one indicator you may not be getting quality sleep. Try using a voice recorder at night, or ask a family member or friend to eavesdrop on you while you sleep. Many people who live alone don’t realize the severity of their snoring, or that they snore at all.
As previously mentioned, snoring can impact your physical and mental health, along with your quality of life. Taking action could be life-changing. Try the remedies listed above and start snoozing more soundly tonight.