Snoring is very common. In fact, most of us snore from time to time so it’s really not something we give a lot of thought to. Snoring results from air being unable to travel freely through our nose and throat while we sleep, causing those surrounding tissues to vibrate. That vibration makes the snoring sound. Snorers usually have an excess of nasal and throat tissue, which is more apt to vibrate. The tongue’s position can also impede breathing and contribute to snoring.
If you snore on a regular basis you are likely getting poor quality sleep due to the disruption. This likely leads to excess fatigue and irritability during the day, as well as potential health risks. Furthermore, if your habitual snoring is disturbing your partner’s sleep, it can be a major problem in your relationship.
Having separate bedrooms may be one solution, but fortunately it’s not the only remedy for snoring. In fact, there are quite a few remedies for snoring that can help both of you sleep better at night so you can put those relationship problems behind you.
People don’t always snore for the same reasons, so if you want to stop snoring you need to know what is causing you to snore in the first place. Once you have a clear understanding of the cause, you will have better luck in determining the right solution for you. And, once you stop snoring you and your partner will consistently be able to enjoy a quieter, more peaceful and deeper sleep.
Typical Causes of Snoring
As you approach middle-age and get older, your throat narrows and decreases in muscle tone. Nothing can stop you from aging, but certain lifestyle changes, doing throat exercises and changing your bedtime routine can all make a difference and help you stop snoring.
Overweight or Poor Muscle Tone
Poor muscle tone or excess fatty tissue can contribute to snoring. You may not actually be overweight, but if you carry excess weight in the neck and throat areas, it can cause you to snore. Losing weight and participating in regular exercise may be all that’s needed to stop you from snoring. It’s certainly worth a try and will benefit your overall health as well.
Body Build or Gender
The air passages on men are narrower than on women, making men more apt to snore. If you have a cleft palate, a narrow throat and/or larger adenoids you may be more prone to snoring. While you can’t control your hereditary physical attributes as well as gender, you can make certain lifestyle changes, do throat exercises and change your bedtime routine, all of which could help you stop snoring.
Nasal & Sinus Issues
If your airways are blocked by a stuffy nose, allergies or a sinus problem, inhaling through your nose becomes more difficult due to the vacuum created in the throat and this will cause snoring. This may only be temporary, but nonetheless snoring will contribute to a lack of sleep.
Alcohol Consumption, Smoking & Certain Medications
Drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking and taking certain medications can cause the muscles to relax, which can lead to snoring. If you take tranquilizers like Valium (diazepam) or Ativan (lorazepam), these may be the cause of your snoring.
If you sleep flat on your back this will relax your throat tissues and block your airway. We recommend that you change your sleeping position.
More Serious Causes of Snoring
Snoring is sometimes caused by a disorder called sleep apnea, which can be serious because your breathing is briefly interrupted many times throughout the night. If you have sleep apnea your quality of sleep is being interfered with a lot more than if you were just snoring. If you habitually feel extremely tired and sleepy during daytime, you may be suffering from sleep apnea or possibly another breathing problem when you sleep.
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you or your partner have noticed one or more of these red flags:
- Your snoring is loud and heavy, and you are tired during the day.
- You briefly stop breathing, gasp for air or choke while sleeping.
- You doze off at inappropriate times, like during a meal or when having a conversation.
Self-Help Methods to Stop Snoring
Because there are so many unconventional anti-snoring remedies and devices being sold today, finding the one that will work for you may seem overwhelming. Sadly, many of the devices on the market today have no research to back them up or they work by simply keeping you up all night.
You shouldn’t give up because there are a lot of proven methods out there that can help you stop snoring. Since there is no one remedy that works for everyone, this may require some patience on your part. You may need to change your lifestyle along the way, and you might need to try different solutions until you figure out what works best for you.
Bedtime Remedies & Solutions
Elevate Your Head
Try raising your head 4-5 inches to ease breathing and move your jaw and tongue forward. There are pillows on the market now that have been specifically designed to prevent snoring by elevating the head to ensure that neck muscles do not become crimped during sleep.
Change Your Sleep Position
If you currently sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side. To remain on your side try sewing a sock with a tennis ball inside to the back of your pajama top. Wear this to bed to keep you from rolling over onto your back. Otherwise, you could wedge a pillowcase filled with tennis balls against your back. After a week or so, you should be in the habit of sleeping on your side and thus be able to get rid of the tennis balls.
Wear a Specialized Mouth Appliance
Your dentist can fit your mouth with an anti-snoring appliance to keep your airway open by forcing your tongue and/or lower jaw forward while you sleep. These are similar to the mouth guards that athletes wear. There are also cheaper DIY kits for these devices if you want to try saving some money.
Clear Out Your Nasal Passages
If a stuffy nose is causing you to snore, you can rinse your sinuses out with saline before going to bed. You could also try a neti pot, apply external nasal strips or take a nasal decongestant to help you breathe during the night. If you suffer from allergies, keep your bedroom vacuumed to reduce pet dander and dust mites and/or take allergy pills.
Use a Humidifier
Breathing dry air can irritate nasal and throat membranes. If your nasal tissues become swollen from dry air, you can use a humidifier to moisten the air in your bedroom.
Lifestyle Changes & Solutions
Shed Excess Weight
Even if you lose just a little weight, it can be enough to reduce the amount of fatty tissue deep in your throat to decrease or even eliminate your snoring.
If you smoke, you very likely snore as well. Smoking is highly irritating to the membranes and tissues in the nose and throat, blocking the airways, which results in snoring. Although it may be difficult to quit smoking, it can bring quick snoring relief.
Avoid Alcohol & Other Substances
Alcohol relaxes the throat muscles and impedes breathing, which leads to snoring. Also, if you take prescription sleeping pills or other sedatives, these may be causing you to sleep on a deeper level, which can exacerbate snoring. If this is the case, speak to your doctor about possible solutions.
Watch What You Eat & Drink Before Bedtime
Research shows that when you eat a large meal or consume foods and/or beverages that contain dairy or soymilk right before going to bed, this can exacerbate snoring.
Get More Physical Exercise
Generally speaking, getting more exercise can reduce snoring even when it doesn’t result in weight loss. Just toning the arms, legs and abdominal muscles can lead to more toned muscles in the throat, which can reduce snoring. Specific exercises have been developed to strengthen throat muscles and doing these regularly can also help reduce or eliminate snoring.
Throat Exercises to Reduce or Eliminate Snoring
Studies show that exercises involving repeatedly pronouncing certain vowels and moving the tongue so that it curls in specific ways will strengthen and tone upper respiratory tract muscles and thus reduce snoring.
Try the following throat exercises:
- Spend three minutes repeating each vowel sound out load – A E I O U – several times a day.
- With your tongue placed behind your top teeth in front, slide your tongue back and forth for three minutes each day.
- Close your mouth and repeatedly purse your lips, holding it for 30 seconds each time
- Open your mouth and move your jaw as far as you can to the right, hold for 30 seconds before moving your jaw to the left and holding for 30 seconds.
- With your mouth held open, repeatedly contract the muscles deep in your throat and hold for 30 seconds each time. If you look in the mirror you will see your uvula moving up and down.
- Have fun singing. Singing increases muscle control and strength in the soft palate as well as the throat, which can reduce snoring if you currently have lax muscles.
Medical Treatments for Snoring
If the self-help solutions have not worked to reduce or eliminate your snoring, there’s still hope. There are certain medical treatments that may work. New advancements are being made all the time and anti-snoring devices are becoming more comfortable and more effective.
Speak to your primary doctor about getting the help you need, which may be from an otolaryngologist, which is an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Even if their solutions were too uncomfortable or didn’t work in the past, things may be different now.
Current Medical Devices & Procedures
Physicians and otolaryngologists today often recommend that patients use a medical device or undergo a surgical procedure to cure their snoring, as follows:
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine
This is a machine that blows pressurized air into a face mask to keep the airways open throughout the night. People suffering from sleep apnea often use a CPAP machine nightly.
Customized Dental Devices
Dentists can create a custom-fit dental device that brings the tongue and/or lower jaw forward to keep the airways open during sleep. A dentist specializing in making lower jaw positioners devices should be consulted.
Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) Procedure
A laser is used to shorten the uvula, which is the soft tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat. The laser also makes tiny cuts in the soft palate tissue on the sides. As these tiny cuts heal, the tissues surrounding them pull up and stiffen which prevents future vibrations and the resultant snoring.
Palatal Implants (a.k.a. the Pillar Procedure)
This procedure involves having tiny plastic implants surgically inserted into the soft palate tissue to prevent the soft palate from collapsing, which often causes snoring.
This procedure involves using low level radiofrequency heat to excise soft palate and uvula tissues that vibrate and cause snoring. The procedure can be done with just local anesthesia and can be completed in approximately 30 minutes.
Other Surgical Procedures
Surgical procedures have been developed to enlarge the airway or correct other abnormalities that can cause snoring, which include, Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UUPP), adenoidectomy, and tonsillectomy.