No surprises when we say that almost everyone snores from time to time. In fact, statistics say that nearly 45% of healthy adults have snored occasionally. Snoring is so common that it is often trivialized and may be the source of “snoring” family jokes!
But, when snoring disturbs the quality and quantity of your sleep as well as that of your partner, you know it’s time to get help. Major marital discord is known to stem from one partner’s loud snoring and you certainly don’t want your relationship to sour just because you snore! The happy news is that you need not solve this issue by sleeping in different bedrooms, thereby straining your relationship.
To begin with, you must recognize that snoring is a real problem and must be tackled with seriousness.
Why do we snore?
Did you know that everybody snores for different reasons? So, finding out why you snore is key to treating the problem.
You may be snoring because of the following:
- The muscles and tissue of your soft palate begin sagging with time, causing them to vibrate when you breathe in. Thus, you make a snoring noise.
- The uvula, which extends from the soft palate, may be thick or elongated and vibrate during breathing.
- Nasal turbinates refer to small bones in the nose that may get enlarged and vibrate when breathing.
- If you have a large tongue, it may be vibrating when you breathe at night, making you snore.
- Adenoids are tissues that are located in the back of the nose, which may block the nasal pathways and cause snoring.
Usually, if you snore with your mouth closed, it means that your tongue is causing it. If you snore with your mouth open, it may be due to sinus issues or sleeping posture.
Before you step out to buy those anti-snoring pills and sprays, you should try the following solutions. The over-the-counter remedies for snoring may not be based on scientific evidence and may cause more harm than good.
1#. Change the position in which you sleep.
If you sleep while lying on your back, your soft palate and the base of your tongue will touch the back of your throat and vibrate when you breathe at night. Thus, you will snore.
- This can be avoided by sleeping on your side. You can use a full-body pillow to support your entire body while sleeping on your side comfortably.
- A method that sounds funny but can prevent you from sleeping on your back is to tape or sew tennis ball to the back of your night gown. Each time you fall on your back in your sleep, the tennis ball will make you feel uncomfortable and you’ll turn to your side again.
- Alternatively, you can elevate the head of the bed by placing some flat boards under the legs of the bed. This may cause neck pain, though. To avoid this, you can prop your head up with some extra pillows.
2#. Keep your nasal passages open.
If your nose is the cause of your snoring, then keeping the nasal passages open is the solution. A clogged nose causes air to move fast in the narrowed nasal passages, causing the snoring sound.
- By taking hot showers before bed, you can clear your nose. Hot and moist air is successful in draining mucus from sinuses. You could also rinse your nose with saltwater while you’re in the shower.
- Use a neti pot, which is a device fashioned to rinse the nasal passages with saltwater, to clear your nose.
- Another idea is to raise the head of your bed so that the amount of mucus draining through your nose is reduced, thus keeping the nasal pathways open.
If you know that an allergy or a cold is causing the blockage in your nose, a temporary solution is to take an antihistamine or a decongestant pill. Taking these pills too often is bad for your health.
- Gargling with a peppermint mouthwash is effective in shrinking the lining of the nose and the throat. This is useful when you have a cold.
The importance of changing bedsheets and pillow covers to remove allergy causing agents is understated. You could clean your curtains and vacuum your carpets more frequently to see if it helps.
- Nasal strips can also be tried to help prevent snoring. They lift the nostrils and keep the nasal passages open. Yes, they look funny—but nobody apart from your partner is looking at you, anyway!
- Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) devices work by covering your nostrils and using your breathing to create enough pressure to keep the air passages open.
- Mouthpieces called mandibular advancement splits or dental appliances are useful in preventing snoring. These plastic objects are worn in the mouth while sleeping to prevent the soft tissues in the throat from sagging and blocking the air ways. These devices either lift the soft palate or bring the lower jaw in front. Others may prevent the tongue from covering the windpipe.
3#. Avoid substances that may worsen snoring.
Substances such as coffee, sedatives, fatty foods at night, and alcohol can make your snoring problem worse by relaxing the muscles in your throat and making your air ways constricted.
- Sedatives and alcohol make the muscles in the back of the throat sag. Thus, you are more likely to snore. If you drink alcohol around 4-5 hours before you sleep, your snoring problem could be worsened. If you don’t usually snore while sleeping, you may find yourself doing so after drinking alcohol.
- Eating huge meals and fat-rich food just before bedtime can also worsen snoring because they tend to push the diaphragm.
- Smoking is one of the causes of a worsening snoring condition. Quitting may improve your symptoms considerably.
- Losing weight can also help resolve the snoring problem. This is because when you lose weight, you also lose some of the fatty tissue that exists in the back of your throat. This causes you to snore less. When you gain weight, especially around your neck, the internal diameter of your throat is narrowed and this makes it more likely for the throat muscles to sag during sleep. Note that not everybody is benefited by losing weight, and thin people also snore. If you began to snore after gaining weight, then it will help to lose that weight.
- Visit your doctor to determine if any of the medicines that you’re taking are causing you to snore or making your snoring worse.
4#. Practice singing
This may sound like an outlandish tip but it does work for some people!
By singing, the vocal muscles are exercised and strengthened. It helps make the tissues of the mouth and the throat firm. By singing or performing other simple exercises for the throat and the mouth, the muscles will remain firm and will not relax when you lie down to sleep at night. Thus, you will not snore.
Playing mouth instruments also has the same effect in exercising the throat muscles.
If you are not musically inclined, you can perform the following exercise to get the same benefits:
- Put your tongue out as far as possible.
- Now, relax your tongue.
- Do this 10 times.
- Next, put your tongue out again and try to reach your chin.
- Hold this posture.
- Now, try to reach your nose with your tongue.
- Do this 10 times.
5#. Prevent dehydration.
Yes, dehydration can cause you to snore! This happens because when there is a lack of water in the body, the secretions in the nasal passages and soft palate become stickier. This blocks the passages and causes one to snore.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that women drink around 11 cups of water every day, whereas men should drink around 16 cups of water. This is inclusive of the water obtained from food and drinks.
Use a humidifier to keep your sleeping chambers moist. You can also take a hot shower just before bedtime to ensure that your nasal passages are hydrated.
6#. Cultivate good sleep habits.
A very common, but unsurprising, reason for snoring is our poor sleep habits. Also called “sleep hygiene,” these habits, when not cultivated, can have an effect comparable to that of alcohol. One of the bad habits that we have is not sleeping enough because we’re working long hours. Due to exhaustion, our muscles tend to become more relaxed. Thus, we begin to snore.
So, what are you waiting for? Incorporate these tips into your bedtime routine and see if you can avoid snoring. If not, visit your doctor to explore medical options.
You deserve a restful night and a healthy relationship with your partner!