Snoring occurs whenever the airways are obstructed. As air struggles to travel through your airways, it rattles against the tissues in your throat and nose, resulting in a snoring sound.
Some of us occasionally snore after a night of heavy drinking or when we’re sick with a stuffy nose. But for those who snore regularly and loudly, it may be a sign of a severe disorder known as sleep apnea. In other scenarios, snoring may result from sleeping on your back.
Even if snoring is not bothering you too much, you should not ignore it because it could be a sign of a severe health condition, such as:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (blocked airways)
- Sleep deprivation
- An issue with the structure of your throat, nose or mouth
If you snore regularly, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep – leading to irritability and daytime fatigue. Snoring may also keep your partner up at night and cause major rifts in your relationship.
Thankfully, there are practical solutions that can cure or minimize snoring. Since people snore for different reasons, the first step is to understand the cause behind your snoring. Once you know why you snore, you can then find the appropriate solutions to stop the cause of your symptoms.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Different strategies exist to eliminate different types of snoring. Not every treatment is right for everyone, though. You need to have patience and make lifestyle changes accordingly. For many, lifestyle changes are all it requires to stop snoring entirely or at least alleviate it significantly. There are a few options that you can try.
If you are overweight, you’re naturally more predisposed to snoring due to poor muscle tone and fatty tissue buildup in the nose or throat. Losing weight can help reduce the fatty tissue and improve muscle tone.
During pregnancy, some women become prone to snoring due to weight gain and hormonal changes.
Lose weight by restricting overall caloric intake. Eat smaller portions. Make sure you get regular exercise daily. By regularly dieting and exercising, you can reduce the fatty tissues that block your airways.
Sleep on your side
Do you sleep on your back? If so, it may be time to switch to your side.
Sleeping flat on your back is a risk factor for snoring. It can cause the tissue of your throat to relax and also cause your tongue to fall back into your throat, thereby partially blocking airflow. Hence, if you notice that you snore while sleeping on your back, it time to switch your sleeping position to the side.
There are several ways to maintain a side-sleeping position. A body pillow (a full-length pillow) provides an easy fix. Alternatively, you can sew a tennis ball to the back of your pajama top; if you roll over onto your back, the discomfort prompts you to roll to your side. After a few nights, you become accustomed to sleeping on your side.
If snoring persists regardless of the sleeping position, you might have obstructive sleep apnea. See a doctor in this case.
Raise the head of your bed
Raise the head of your adjustable bed by approximately 4 inches. It may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw forward, away from your air passageway.
An anti-snore pillow may also help prevent snoring by keeping your head elevated so that your neck muscles are not crimped.
Nasal strips or a nasal dilator
Adhesive nasal strips can be applied to the bridge of the nose to keep lift nasal passages and open them up. This would help if the problem starts from your nose and not within the soft palate. It would make your breathing more comfortable and reduce or eliminate snoring.
You can also try a nasal dilator – a stiffened adhesive strip. It is applied externally across the nostrils. This can reduce airflow resistance, making it easier to breathe.
However, nasal strips and nasal dilators aren’t useful for people with obstructive sleep apnea.
Treat nasal congestion
If your nose is congested due to a cold or allergy or deviated septum, inhalation can become difficult, and there may be a vacuum in the throat. This forces you to breathe via your mouth, increasing the likelihood of snoring.
Keep bedroom air moist
Dry air can irritate the mucosal membranes in the throat and nose, which causes the characteristic snoring sound. You can keep the air moist with a humidifier. This added air moisture helps lubricate your throat and nose, making airflow easier.
Avoid alcohol and sedatives before bedtime
Alcohol and sedative relax the muscles in the throat, making it more likely to snore. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages at least three hours before bedtime. Also, stop taking any sedatives before bed.
Smoking can worsen your snoring. It irritates the nose and throat, causing inflammation which can block the airways. Over time, chronic smoking dries out your membranes, making snoring louder. Smoking cessation may reduce snoring.
Get adequate sleep
Exhaustion can relax your tongue and throat muscles, causing you to snore. Practice good sleep hygiene. Aim for seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Try an anti-snoring oral appliance
Anti-snoring oral appliance resembles an athlete’s mouthguard. It helps open the airway by bringing the jaw and tongue forward during sleep. While a custom-made appliance can be expensive, cheaper over-the-counter anti-snoring oral appliances are also available.
Throat and tongue exercises
Throat and tongue exercises can reduce snoring because it tones and strengthens the muscles in your throat.
Place the tip of your tongue behind the top of your mouth and slide it to and fro for several minutes a day. Another exercise you can try is by pronouncing certain vowel sounds (a-e-i-o-u).
Consult a doctor if you have sleep apnea
If none of those lifestyle remedies work, it may be a sign that your snoring is due to sleep apnea, which is a severe sleep disorder where your breathing is interrupted during sleep. It may be time to consult your doctor for therapeutic intervention.
Call your doctor if you have the following symptoms:
- Loud and heavy snoring
- Gasp or choke during sleep
- Pauses in breathing
- Extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day
- Fall asleep at random times, such as during a meal or a conversation
Sleep apnea is dangerous. It can strain the heart and other organs. Prompt treatment is necessary.
Medical treatments for sleep apnea
If sleep apnea is disrupting your quality of sleep, it may be time for therapeutic intervention.
Also known as mandibular advancement device, the oral appliances are form-fitting dental mouthpieces that push the tongue forward to keep the air passage open. It prevents your tongue from blocking your throat during sleep, thus preventing snoring. Work with your dentist to optimize the fit and position of the oral appliance.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
CPAP (SEE-pap) is commonly used to treat snoring associated with obstructive sleep apnea. These devices are connected via a tube to a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep. The mask delivers a consistent amount of pressurized air to keep your airway open during sleep. It is the most reliable and effective method of treating obstructive sleep apnea. Nevertheless, some people find it uncomfortable or have trouble adjusting to the noise of the machine.
Upper airway surgery
Several procedures seek to open the upper airway and prevent significant narrowing during sleep. Consult your sleep doctor for further information.
Snoring and your relationship
Snoring can strain your relationship. You may feel resentful if you’re kept awake as your partner snores away. On the other hand, if you’re the snorer, you may feel guilty, helpless, or even irritated with your partner for harping on something that is out of your control.
While the snorer suffers from chronic snoring, the partner suffers from chronic sleep deprivation. As a result, couples may begin sleeping in separate rooms. Resentment grows, and the relationship suffers.
If you value your relationship, it is imperative to find a snoring cure so you can both sleep soundly.
If you are the snorer
You may be caught off-guard and feel hurt, embarrassed, or defensive when your partner complains about your snoring. After all, you probably are not aware of it.
If you dismiss your partner’s complaints and refuse to find a solution to your snoring problem, it could further strain your relationship.
Keep the following in mind as you work together to find a solution to your snoring:
- Don’t take it personally. Your partner cares about you. Do not take your partner’s frustration as a personal attack or critique. Your partner loves you, but not the snoring.
- By hearing them out, you demonstrate that you can about your partner, too. Listening also enables you to work together to find a solution. Avoid minimizing their complaints; take them seriously.
- Stick to your plan. By committing to lifestyle changes, you are more likely to curb your snoring. With less snoring, both of you will enjoy better sleep and a better relationship.
Address inappropriate behavior. Even though sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and moodiness, let your partner that it’s not alright for them to insult or slap you when you’re snoring.
If your partner snores
No matter how sleep-deprived you are as a result of your partner’s snoring, it’s essential to handle the situation sensitively. Rein in your frustration. Attack the snoring problem – not your partner. Remember that your partner likely feels defensive, vulnerable, and even a little embarrassed about their snoring.
Follow these tips to facilitate a thoughtful conversation that leads towards a solution:
- Time your talk wisely. Avoid discussing in the middle of the night or early morning when you’re both exhausted. Set up a time to discuss, outside of your bedroom during the daytime. Do not associate your bed – a place of sleeping and intimacy – with conflict.
- Bring up the subject with understanding. Your partner may be embarrassed about their snoring and may act defensively. Stay calm and caring, so they know you’re coming from the right place. Tell your partner you’re worried about their snoring because it could be a sign of sleep apnea.
- Be patient. It takes time to find the best solution for your partner’s snoring. Help your partner fix this issue by letting them know if the snoring is improving or worsening as a result of their efforts.
While your partner works to resolve their snoring, you should find ways to sleep better despite the noise. This will help you avoid sleep deprivation during this time, or make it easier for you to sleep if their snoring never weans entirely.
- Get exhausted before bed. Follow a bedtime routine that helps you stay calm. You can practice deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
- Use white noise. Replace snoring with white noise. Buy a white noise machine. It contains sound libraries with various colored noise, soft music, and ambient sounds designed to distract your ears and you for sleep.
- Use earplugs. Earplugs come in different materials and sizes. Find a pair that suits you.
Snoring can disrupt you and your partner’s sleep. But besides being annoying, it may indicate sleep apnea, which is a severe health condition. Find proper solutions to your snoring problem to keep it under control.