Cures, Remedies, and Tips
Have you ever sneezed one day from allergies then sneezed another day from a bad cold? Snoring is like that. In other words, not all snoring is the same. Everyone snores for different reasons. When we get to the bottom of why we snore, then we can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep.
People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue, or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing. Evaluating how and when you snore will help you pinpoint whether the cause of your snoring is within your control or not. The good news is that no matter how and when you snore, there are solutions to making it better.
Where does the snore sound come from?
Snoring is caused by a narrowing of your airway, either from poor sleep posture or abnormalities of the soft tissues in your throat. A narrow airway gets in the way of smooth breathing and creates the sound of snoring.
Common causes of snoring
Although it may be upsetting to think that there could be problems at the root of you or your bed buddy’s snoring, it’s important to get to the bottom of it. When you do, you’ll protect your health, and the intimacy of your relationship.
- Age. As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
- The way you’re built. Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes (which contribute to snoring) can be hereditary.
- Nasal and sinus problems. Blocked airways make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
- Being overweight or out of shape. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring.
- Alcohol, smoking, and medications. Alcohol intake, smoking (or second-hand smoke), and certain medications, increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
- Sleep posture. Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.
Self-help tips and snoring remediesThe good news is that there are is a lot you can do to stop snoring. Just be prepared to summon some patience, do a little detective work, and troubleshoot to try different remedies. Likely your snoring won’t go away over night, but keep at it. With a little teamwork, you and your partner can combat noisy nights together.
Begin getting to the bottom of a snoring problem by enlisting your non-snoring sleep partner to keep a sleep diary to help you sleuth the possible causes of your snoring. Monitoring the snoring will help diagnose why you snore and how to stop it.
How you snore reveals why you snoreIt’s crucial to note to the different ways you sleep and snore. Sleep positions reveal a lot, and figuring out how you snore can reveal why you snore. When you know why you snore, you can get closer to a cure.
- Closed-mouth snoring may indicate a problem with the tongue.
- Open-mouth snoring may be related to the tissues in your throat.
- Snoring when sleeping on back is probably mild – improved sleep habits and lifestyle changes may be effective cures.
- Snoring in all sleep positions can mean snoring is more severe and may require a more comprehensive treatment.
Troubleshoot to stop snoring
So you’ve tried different sleeping positions and you still suffer from noisy nights? Try the following self-help tips.
- Lose weight. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease snoring. See Healthy Weight Loss Your Way for some tips on getting started. Exercise in general can help because toning arms, legs, and abs inadvertently leads to toning muscles you don’t see in the throat, which leads to less snoring.
- Clear nasal passages. Having a stuffy nose makes inhalation difficult and creates a vacuum in your throat, which in turn leads to snoring. You can do it naturally with a Neti pot or try nasal decongestants or nasal strips to help you breathe more easily while sleeping.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking causes airways to be blocked by irritating the membranes in the nose and throat.
- Establish regular sleep patterns. Create a bedtime ritual with your partner and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way together can promote better sleep and therefore minimize snoring.
- Keep bedroom air moist with a humidifier. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat.
- Reposition. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. (Tip: go pillow-free or try a specially designed pillow to make sure your neck muscles are not crimped).
Tip: The tennis ball trickDo you sleep on your back? Try the “tennis ball trick”: sleep with a tennis ball (or similar sized ball) attached to the back of your pajama top. (You can sew or safety-pin a sock to the back of the pajama top, then put a tennis ball in it.) The tennis ball is uncomfortable if you lie on your back, and you will respond by turning on your side. Soon you will develop side-sleeping as a habit and not need the tennis ball.
Reduce snoring by avoiding the following substances
Research shows that consumption of certain foods and medicines right before bedtime can make snoring worse. Placing a household ban on the following snore-hazards right before bedtime can make for quieter nights.
- Large meals
- Dairy products
- Sleeping pills and other relaxants
Throat exercises to stop snoring
Done 30 minutes a day, throat exercises can be a cost-effective snore-reducer for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Studies show that by pronouncing certain vowel sounds and curling the tongue in specific ways, muscles in the upper respiratory tract are strengthened and therefore reduce snoring.
Try the following exercises to stop snoring. Start slow and gradually increase the number of sets you do every few days.
- Repeat each vowel (a-e-i-o-u) out loud for three minutes throughout day.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Slide your tongue backwards for 3 minutes a day
- Close your mouth and purse your lips. Hold for 30 seconds.
- With mouth open, move jaw to the right and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on left side
- With mouth open, contract the muscle at the back of your throat repeatedly for 30 seconds. Tip: Look in the mirror to see the uvula (“the hanging ball”) move up and down.
Alternative remedies for snoring
- Singing – Singing can increase muscle control in the throat and soft palate, reducing snoring caused by lax muscles.
- Playing the didgeridoo – Thinking of taking up a new instrument? Studies show that learning to play a didgeridoo can strengthen the soft palate and throat, reducing snoring.
Medical cures and treatments for snoring
If the self-helps aren’t silencing your noisy bedroom, don’t abandon hope. Medical treatments could make all the difference. Luckily, advances are being made all the time and devices are becoming more effective and more comfortable. So even if your doctor recommended something in the past that was uncomfortable or didn’t work, that doesn’t mean the same will be true now.
Medical remedies for snoring
When your own efforts to stop snoring do not help, consult your physician or an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat doctor, otherwise known as an ENT). If you choose to try a dental appliance for your snoring, you will need to see a dentist specializing in these devices.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). To keep your airway open during sleep, a machine at your bedside blows pressurized air into a mask that you wear over your nose or face.
- Dental appliances, oral devices, and lower jaw-positioners often resemble an athlete’s mouth guard. They help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw or your tongue forward during sleep.
- Traditional surgery such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy, increase the size of your airway by surgically removing tissues or correcting abnormalities. The Pillar procedure is also an effective surgery in which small plastic implants are inserted into the soft palate. Scar tissue grows around the implants, stiffening the soft palate, which stops vibrations that cause snoring.
- New developments. Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) and somnoplasty remove parts of the soft palate to reduce snoring using lasers or radiofrequency signals. These newer remedies may require further study.
When to see a doctor
Some snoring indicates a serious warning sign. Call your doctor if your sleep partner shows any of the following red flags.
- Snores loudly and heavily and is tired during the day
- Stops breathing, gasps, or chokes during sleep
- Falls asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or a meal