Snoring is often seen as a major problem because of the annoyance it causes; however, it is not something that you can ignore or laugh away. Research is increasingly implicating snoring as one of the risk factors for health conditions, from high blood pressure and weight gain to a weak immune system and even problems with memory.
It is vital you act to reduce your snoring. Here are a few strategies that you could try:
Get Feedback on Your Snoring
Speak to your partner and get feedback about how you snore (other than a pillow being slammed in the face!)
For instance, do you snore through the nose or the mouth? Do you emit a gasping or choking sound, or does it sound like you stop breathing between snores? Do you snore all the time or only when lying on your back? Are there some days when you do not snore at all? Is your mouth open or closed when you snore?
The answers to these questions will be a vital first step to identify the cause of your snoring and help you choose the right treatment.
Locate the Cause
Use the information your partner provides to get an idea of why you snore. If you snore with the mouth closed, perhaps it is your tongue that is blocking the airway. If the snoring is worse during the time when you have a cold or when you have a bedtime alcoholic drink, it is easy to find a solution.
However, if your partner says you snore the same way every night, and for most of the night, it is best to consult a doctor – especially if you appear to choke or stop breathing between snores – because it could be sleep apnea, a potentially fatal condition.
Change Your Sleep Habits
Place a few extra pillows to elevate your head or use an anti-snore pillow that forces you to sleep on the side. This way, if you are a mild snorer, the change in position will ensure the tissues in the throat do not fall back due to gravity and you may find your snoring stops.
Ensure you get enough sleep each night or you may end up so exhausted that you slip into an intense sleep. This can cause the muscles in the mouth cavity to relax so much that the tissues block the airways and cause you to snore.
Have an early and light dinner. Otherwise, you may develop digestion problems that makes the snoring worse.
Avoid drinking alcohol at bedtime, as it can relax the muscles and cause snoring. Sleep medications can also do the same — if you find you snore only when you take sleeping pills, speak to your doctor about how to get over this problem.
Reduce Nasal Congestion
If you have a stuffy nose because of an allergy or an infection, use saline water to clear your nose before going to bed. Some people find that using a Neti pot or inhaling steam also helps keep congestion away.
Sometimes, there may be a problem with the moisture levels in your home and especially in the bedroom – if the air is too dry, the membranes lining the nose can be irritated and this causes congestion that leads to snoring. If this is the case, use a humidifier to keep humidity levels comfortable.
Keeping your bedroom, pillows and bed linen clean is an easy way of keeping allergens at bay. If your pillows are unclean, they could be a store of dust mites; if you have pets entering your bedroom, their hair could act as an irritant and set off an allergy that causes nasal congestion.
Exercise Your Throat Muscles
Throat exercises can help tone the muscles in the mouth and this means lesser snoring. Here are a few exercises that could help:
- Say the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) out loud for about 3 minutes; repeat several times a day.
- Close your mouth and purse the lips; stay in this position for about half a minute. Repeat a few times every day.
- Position the tongue tip in the space behind the front teeth of the upper jaw and slowly move the tongue backwards as far as possible. Repeat this for 3 minutes.
- Keep the mouth open and move the lower jaw to the left side and hold; repeat on the right side.
- Sing aloud a few times during the day – it can tighten lax muscles and help control snoring.
Lose Weight if Necessary
Although many thin people snore, people who are overweight or obese are more likely to do so. This is because the excess weight all over the body also means extra fat around the neck. This can press down on the throat, causing greater congestion and aggravating the block of the airways. Follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly to lose weight, and it is quite possible that your snoring will be reduced.
Use the Right Anti-Snoring Device
If all these measures do not make a big difference to the way you snore, invest in a good anti-snoring device. Identify the reason why you snore and get the device that can help you stop.
- If you sleep with the mouth open and this causes the snoring, use an anti-snoring chin strap.
- If blocked nostrils are the problem, try nasal decongestants and nasal disks or strips.
- When maintaining the sleeping position is critical, try anti-snore pillows.
- If you need to hold the soft palate tissues in place to reduce snoring, use an anti-snoring mouthpiece.
Snoring poses not just a health risk; it also disturbs your partner’s sleep. This is bad for her or his health and for your relationship. Your partner may find it difficult to sleep with you snoring in the room and decide to sleep apart – over time, this sort of a physical separation can lead to an emotional disconnect.
Make sure you follow these simple steps to gain control over snoring. However, if you find that these measures do not really help, do not hesitate to consult a doctor who can find out if your problem is a more serious one of sleep apnea.