If we don’t, we know someone who does. It’s true—approximately 90 million Americans snore.
Snoring is caused by a narrow airway. If air cannot move freely through your throat and nose while you sleep, the supporting tissues vibrate producing a snoring sound.
Most people have larger fish to fry than kicking snoring. However, its disturbing qualities can become a serious problem over time, and may even indicate an underlying condition. Not only does snoring interfere with the quality of your sleep, but probably your sleep partner’s as well.
Finding the specific cause of your snoring requires trial and error, but achieving a good night’s sleep is well worth it. Sometimes the solution is as simple as switching sleep positions, but other times it takes the help of a medical professional to completely combat snoring. Here are a few at-home remedies to try first.
Seven Ways to Stop Snoring
If you or your partner snore on a regular basis and it is affecting the quality of your sleep, try these easy at-home snoring remedies that have proven to be effective.
1. Clear your nasal passages
Stuffed nasal passages are a common cause of snoring. They encourage the throat to act as a vacuum which leads to vibration of the upper airway. Hot showers, salt water rinses, and nasal strips are all effective ways to clear nasal congestion that causes snoring.
Inhaling steam can significantly reduce mucus and clear your airway. Most snorers choose to take a hot shower before bed, but standing over boiling water or a sink of running hot water will have the same effect.
Some people choose to clear their airway using a neti pot filled with saltwater. Saltwater clears out any thick mucus or dirt that is lodged in the nasal passage. Improper use of a neti pot can be dangerous so be sure to read the instructions carefully. The instructions contain important information like the type of water to use, the appropriate solution ratio, as well as how to properly clean the neti pot. If salt water isn’t for you, another option is to simply increase the space of your airway.
Nasal strips are basically adhesive strips that lift and open the nostrils, making it easier to breathe through your nose. Most nasal strips come with directions to assist you with placement.
2. Reduce allergens
Blocked nasal passages are a common cause of snoring, and allergic reactions are a common cause of blocked nasal passages. If the above suggestions aren’t cutting it, try reducing the allergens in your room. Dust and pet dander are usually the culprits behind allergies.
We recommend consistently dusting your room, including the ceiling fan. Pillows are also harborers of dust mites. Tossing them in the drier on an air fluff cycle once every two weeks will help. Pet dander can easily cause irritation as well. If it feels like you are prone to a stuffy nose and dry throat, it may not be the best idea to let your pets on the bed.
3. Change your sleeping position
When you sleep flat on your back, your tongue and soft palate (back of the roof of the mouth) tend to relax toward the back of your throat. This can obstruct your upper airway and cause the vibrating sound we refer to as snoring. The solution is as simple as switching up your sleep position. We suggest adjusting the angle of your head or sleeping on your side.
If you have an adjustable bed, try elevating the head of your bed a few inches. You can also invest in a high-loft pillow. Loft refers to a pillow’s height. Thus, a high-loft pillow will allow you to sleep slightly elevated. Today’s market also offers special pillows designed for snoring that may help.
If sleeping with an inclined head sounds like a problem for your neck, you can also try sleeping on your side. Some sleep specialists recommend the tennis ball technique. It basically consists of attaching tennis balls to the back of your pajamas. This is supposed to prevent you from reverting to the flat back position. Placing a firm body pillow directly behind your spine is another option.
4. Keep your bedroom air moist
Dry air usually is not the sole reason a person snores. However, dry climates can lead to swollen nasal tissue and an irritated throat that makes it difficult to breathe with ease. A humidifier will keep the air moist and reduce irritations that may increase snoring.
5. Drink more water
Going to bed dehydrated can warrant a series of consequences. For now, we’ll stick to snoring.
If you don’t drink enough fluids during the day, your throat will most likely feel dry by the time bedtime rolls around; and a dry throat makes it difficult for air to pass smoothly. Dehydration also causes the secretions in your nose to become thicker and stickier, thus blocking your nasal passages. These restrictions to your upper airway will cause or increase snoring.
6. Exercise or lose weight
Weight gain is accepted as the most common cause of snoring and sleep disorders like sleep apnea. However, a 2013 study shows that you can have a normal body mass index and still suffer from snoring if you’re somebody who stores extra weight around your neck. Extra weight around the neck applies excess pressure to the upper airway and constricts the back of the throat.
Toning muscles and reducing fatty tissue in the throat can lessen or completely stop snoring. The best way to do this is through lifestyle changes like a healthy diet and regular exercise. You can also spend at least 10 minutes a day practicing the following exercises to build the muscles of your throat:
- Slide the tip of your tongue from behind your top front teeth to the back of your throat.
- Raise and lower your uvula (the dangling ball in the back of your mouth) by contracting the muscle in the back of your throat. The motion is similar to saying, “ahhh.”
- Open your mouth and firmly press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, then suck up.
- Just sing—singing can build your throat muscles!
7. Get enough sleep
Not sleeping long enough causes us to fall into a deep slumber every time our head hits the pillow. In turn, our throat muscles also relax harder. They slump toward the back of the throat and restrict airflow, causing snoring.
If you sleep less than seven hours a night and are also an avid snorer, there may be a correlation between the two. Try establishing a routine. We get it—it is difficult to have a bedtime as an adult, but in the long run, it may increase your sleep quality and reduce your snoring.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Ending your snoring may require a process of elimination or a combination of the above home remedies. However, if you find that nothing has helped and you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, we suggest discussing your snoring habits with a trusted medical professional.
- You feel lethargic during the day.
- You wake up choking or snorting.
- You wake up confused.
- Your sleep partner says you stop breathing during the night.
These symptoms could suggest that you have a more serious condition like obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to pause breathing during the night. It is typically treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. A CPAP machine keeps your upper airway open by forcing air through a mask that you can place over your nose or face.
People snore for a variety of reasons—unhealthy sleeping positions, allergies, obesity, and so much more. To identify the reasons you snore, we recommend using a sleep diary to help you track which of the above home remedies are most effective. Apps that track your snoring are also useful when determining the effectiveness of different anti-snore remedies. And of course, you can also rely on your sleep partner to let you know if your snoring has finally ceased.
Remember, snoring should be essentially harmless. If it begins to take a toll on your health or relationship, it may be best to consult with a sleep specialist or medical professional.
This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.
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