Do you have friends or family members who you can hear snoring through the wall? Maybe your spouse snores and it keeps you up at night? Perhaps your snoring is so bad, you have even woken yourself up! The truth is everyone snores occasionally. It's a natural part of being in a relaxed state. However, if it is severe, it can cause a variety of unhealthy side affects and irritate those around you. It can also be the sign of a life threatening condition known as sleep apnea.
What Causes Snoring?
Snoring is caused when air does not move freely through the throat and nose during sleep, causing the surrounding tissues to vibrate. Snoring can be caused by a variety of factors including fitness level, menopause, general aging, nasal and sinus problems, alcohol consumption, smoking, medications, sleep position, asthma, and even gender. Those more prone to snoring, often have more “tissue” around the throat area to vibrate.
If you want to learn how to stop this nasally disruptive and annoying sound, it is important to first identify the cause. Once you determine the underlying cause, you can work to better address the problem and implement solutions so that everyone, including yourself, can get a better nights rest.
Weight (and BMI)
Weight gain can lead to snoring. Excess body weight, especially around your neck can cause your breathing passageway to be narrowed. The truth is, the higher your BMI compared to normal, the more prone you are to snoring. Studies have shown that obese people are at a higher risk of snoring and that weight reduction can help. It may be time to shed those extra pounds. (1)
Do you sleep on your back, side, with your mouth open or shut? Maybe you snore in every position? Believe it or not, but even the position of your tongue when you sleep can lead to snoring. When relaxed, our tongues tend to fall further back in our throats increasing the chances of vibrations, or nasally noises coming from our bodies. Sleeping on your back often causes you to breath through you mouth, making snoring worse. The goal of changing your sleeping position is to prevent the body from blocking the breathing passage way.
The position in which you sleep has been found to have a profound effect on snoring. It has been found that sleeping on your side, decreases the pressure on your throat and ultimately has the best success for not snoring. Lying on your back can lead to more throat obstruction and increased snoring. Besides being prodded by your partner to “roll over”, how does one force themselves to sleep on their back? Well, here is a trick even though it may sound a little odd. Using an old t-shirt or set of pajamas, sew a tennis ball into the front pocket. Then wear your shirt backwards to bed. I promise, when you attempt to roll onto your back, it won’t be very comfortable and it will immediately encourage you to roll back onto your side.
Know Yourself: Snore With Nose, Or Snore With Mouth?
Part of figuring out how to stop snoring is knowing what type of snorer you are. Do you sleep with your mouth open or shut? If you have a partner or a person in your life that can watch you sleep, you may be able to determine what kind of sleeper you are from the comforts of your own home. Make sure to make a sleep diary to get a baseline of how you are sleeping.
Snore with Nose: Mouth Shut Snorer
If you conclude that you snore with your mouth shut, it is likely you have a disruption in your respiratory pathway. For example, your nasal passage may be congested.
Snore with Mouth: Mouth Open Snorer
Do you sleep with your mouth wide open? If so, it could be the tissues in your throat causing an obstruction. Due to this obstruction, your body will work harder to clear the space, forcing more air though. It is the body's way of adapting to make sure you are still getting enough oxygen, but it also creates more vibrations. As we know, vibrations mean more loud snoring noises. Therefore, snoring with your mouth open might not be something your partner appreciates.
How to Stop Snoring
If you snore, talk with your dentist about being fitted for an anti snoring mouthpiece that can help decrease airway obstruction while you sleep. These mouthpieces fit similar to a sports mouth guard or orthodontic retainer. They can help open your airway and keep your tongue from obstructing your airway while you sleep. Your dentist can help you determine the best snoring mouthpieces. It may just be the effective treatment you need to eliminate your snoring all together.
Many have asked about snoring rings and if they really work. Snoring rings work by placing an acupressure ring on your little finger. While some report relief, those who use nasal strips (which physically open up the nasal passage way) report better results.
Have you ever pondered essential oils or wondered which essential oils were best for snoring? Before bed, consider using a steam inhalation with essential oils to reduce inflammation and clear your airways, in particular, your nasal passageway. Add 5 drops of peppermint essential oil and 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil to a steam bowl or steam inhaler. Take deep breathes through your nose and mouth to clear your sinuses. Take caution as steam is hot and you can burn yourself.
You can also clear your sinuses and nasal passages using a neti pot. Do not add essential oils directly to the neti pot as it can burn your nasal passageways, leading to increased inflammation and congestion.
Mattress & Pillows
Studies have shown that people who have been given head-positioning pillows to sleep with have shown reduction in snoring, regardless of BMI. For example, those who sleep on their back can have more throat obstruction and therefore a special pillow may help snoring in some. (2) Side sleeping has been found to be the most beneficial position for reducing snoring. Adjustable mattresses and the right pillow may also help reduce snoring by gently raising the head, and contouring the neck, shoulders, back, and hips. The contoured support and even weigh distribution can help relieve pressure points, making side sleeping more ideal and comfortable. Using a body pillow can also help keep you in the side sleeping position.
Can a humidifier help with snoring? The truth is dry air can cause your nose, mouth, and throat to become irritated and congested, especially if you have allergies. Increasing the moisture in the air through a humidifier can help eliminate the dry air and create a more comfortable environment to sleep in. It certainly won’t hurt to try. You can even add essential oils to the humidifier for enhanced results.
Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol
Alcohol causes people and their muscles to relax. Because of this, the muscles in the throat and tongue are more likely to cause airway obstruction, ultimately leading to snoring. Limit or avoid alcohol all together if you are looking for a better night sleep. (3)
Decrease Dairy At Night
Dairy products can leave behind a layer of mucous in the mouth and throat, which can lead to blockage of the air passage way. In addition, if you have a dairy intolerance, this can lead to inflammation of the nasal passage, increasing your odds of snoring.
Avoid Late Night Meals
Large meals can cause your stomach to push on your diaphragm, which can have an impact on your breathing. Aim to avoid large meals near bedtime.
We all know that smoking is very bad for your health, but did you know that it can also contribute to snoring? Cigarette smoke causes inflammation of the lining in the nose and throat. Inflammation leads to decreased airflow. You may have already guessed, it but that means an increased likelihood of snoring.
A good night’s sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy and balanced life. Sleep disruptions can lead to serious health problems such as weight gain, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, increased risk of heart diseases, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and even brain damage.
If you snore loudly no matter what position, wake yourself up while sleeping, and even after trying a few of these remedies, make sure you reach out to your doctor. It can be a sign of a life threatening condition known as sleep apnea. Those with sleep apnea stop and restart breathing throughout the night. This can lead to sudden cardiac death. Your doctor will help to determine if you suffer from sleep apnea, what kind of sleep apnea, as well as work with you to create a more individualized treatment plan.