You might be one of the 45 percent of normal adults who snore on a regular basis, or you know someone who does. Snoring may be the punchline of family jokes (“Uncle Joe snores so loudly that he rattles the windows!”), but it’s a real problem.
For one thing, a snoring partner can prevent the other person from getting a decent night’s sleep, leading to the separation of bedrooms. “Snoring can cause serious problems in a marriage,” says Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, of Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert.
Snoring is not only annoying, but 75 percent of those who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (a condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep for brief durations), which raises the risk of heart disease, according to Slaughter.
Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, program director for Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., advises caution before self-treating with over-the-counter sprays and medications unless you’ve checked with your doctor. Chokroverty, a neurology professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences, says, “Many stop-snoring products are sold without rigorous research to back their claims.”
Instead, try these natural remedies and lifestyle modifications to see if you can get rid of your snoring.
Alter the way you sleep.
The base of your tongue and soft palate compress against the rear wall of your throat when you sleep on your back, generating a vibrating sound. It’s possible that sleeping on your side will help you avoid this.
A body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports your complete body) is a simple solution, according to Slaughter. “It allows you to sleep on your side and can make a significant difference.”
Tennis balls taped to the back of your pajamas can also help you avoid sleeping on your back, according to Chokroverty. “You can also recline the bed with your head up and stretched, which can free up your nasal airway passages and potentially help you stop snoring. However, this could result in neck ache.” Snoring that persists independent of sleep position could indicate obstructive sleep apnea. “In this case, see a doctor,” Chokroverty advises.
Shed some Pounds.
Some people benefit from losing weight, but not everyone. Slaughter adds, “Thin folks snore, too.”
Weight loss may assist if you’ve gained weight and begun snoring after not snoring previously. “When you acquire weight around your neck, it squeezes the internal diameter of your throat, making it more prone to collapse during sleep and causing snoring,” adds Slaughter.
Stay away from alcoholic beverages.
Alcohol and sedatives lower the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, causing you to snore more frequently. “Drinking alcohol four to five hours before bedtime exacerbates snoring,” adds Chokroverty. “Alcohol causes people who don’t ordinarily snore to snore.”
Maintain proper sleeping hygiene.
According to Slaughter, bad sleep habits (also known as poor sleep “hygiene”) might have an effect equivalent to drinking alcohol. Working long hours without getting enough sleep, for example, implies you’ll be exhausted when you eventually get to bed. “You sleep hard and deep, and your muscles bounce around, causing snoring,” Slaughter explains.
Make sure your nasal passages are open and clear.
Keeping your nasal passages open may assist if your snoring starts in your nose. According to Slaughter, it permits air to travel through at a slower pace. “Consider a slender garden hose with water flowing through it. The faster the water pours through the hose, the narrower it is.”
Your nasal passageways function in a similar way. The fast-moving air is more likely to cause snoring if your nose is congested or restricted due to a cold or other blockage.
According to Slaughter, taking a hot shower before bed can assist open nasal passages. In the shower, keep a bottle of saltwater rinse. “Rinse it out of your nose when showering to help open up passageways,” Slaughter advises.
A salt-water solution could also be used to rinse the nasal passages with a neti pot.
Nasal strips may also help to loosen up and raise nasal passages if the problem is in the nose rather than the soft palate.
Switch up your pillows.
Snoring might be exacerbated by allergens in your bedroom and pillow. When was the last time you dusted the ceiling fan above your head? Should you replace your pillows?
Dust mites collect in pillows and can induce allergic reactions, resulting in snoring. Allowing your pet to sleep in your bed exposes you to animal dander, which is another common allergen.
“These items may be contributing to your snoring if you feel OK during the day but obstructed at night,” Slaughter explains.
To keep dust mites and allergens at bay, run your pillows through the air fluff cycle once every couple of weeks and replace them every six months. Also, keep pets out of your bedchamber.
Chokroverty advises caution before investing in snoring-prevention pillows. “They might work if they prop your head up, which helps with nasal difficulties but might create neck pain.”
Drink plenty of water.
Drink a lot of water. “When you’re dehydrated, the secretions in your nose and soft palate get stickier,” Slaughter explains. “This could result in greater snoring.” According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy women should drink 11 cups of total water per day (including all liquids and food), while males should drink 16 cups.
Slaughter recommends getting enough sleep, sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and taking a hot shower if your nasal passages are congested. “Simple habits like these can make a big difference in minimizing snoring.”