If you snore, you’re not alone.
Lot of people snore too. Snoring happens when air flows through your throat when you breathe in your sleep. This causes the relaxed tissues in your throat to vibrate and cause harsh, irritating snoring sounds.
Snoring may disrupt your sleep, or that of your partner. Even if it’s not bothering you too much, it’s not a condition to ignore. In fact, snoring may be a sign of a serious health condition, including:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (blocked airways)
- An issue with the structure of your mouth, nose, or throat
- Sleep deprivation.
In other cases, snoring may be caused simply by sleeping on your back or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime.
Not only is snoring a nuisance, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which increases the risk of developing heart disease, Slaughter says.
Use caution before you self-treat with over-the-counter sprays and pills until you’ve checked with your Sleep Specialist. Many stop-snoring aids are marketed without scientific studies to support their claims.
Instead, try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, which may help you stop snoring.
- Change Your Sleep Position: Lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse of the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side may help prevent this.
- Lose Weight: Weight loss helps some people, but not everyone. “Thin people snore, too,” Slaughter says.
If you’ve gained weight and started snoring and did not snore before you gained weight, weight loss may help. “If you gain weight around your neck, it squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, triggering snoring,” Slaughter says.
- Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. Drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping makes snoring worse. People who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.
- Practice Good Sleep Hygiene: Poor sleep habits (also known as poor sleep “hygiene”) can have an effect similar to that of drinking alcohol, Slaughter says. Working long hours without enough sleep, for example, means when you finally hit the sack you’re overtired. “You sleep hard and deep, and the muscles become floppy, which creates snoring,” Slaughter says.
- Open Nasal Passages: If snoring starts in your nose, keeping nasal passages open may help. It allows air to move through slower, Slaughter says. “Imagine a narrow garden hose with water running through. The narrower the hose, the faster the water rushes through.”
Your nasal passages work similarly. If your nose is clogged or narrowed due to a cold or other blockage, the fast-moving air is more likely to produce snoring.
A hot shower before you go to bed can help open nasal passages. Also, keep a bottle of salt water rinse in the shower. Rinse your nose out with it while you’re showering to help open up passages.
- Change Your Pillows: Allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow may contribute to snoring. When did you last dust the overhead ceiling fan? Replace your pillows?
- Stay Well Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids. Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated. This can create more snoring. According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy women should have about 11 cups of total water (from all drinks and food) a day; men require about 16 cups.
Overall, get enough sleep, sleep on your side, avoid alcohol before bedtime and take a hot shower if nasal passages are clogged. These simple practices can make a huge difference in reducing snoring.