Snort. Wheeze. Roar. It’s impossible to ignore snoring in your bedroom if someone else is doing it.
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A snorer’s snoring can be annoying to those who are trying to sleep. Sleep apnea, in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly while you sleep, is one possible cause of this phenomenon.
As an ENT physician, Dr. Tony Reisman says, “Snoring and apnea often go hand in hand.” To ensure that everyone in the house can sleep peacefully, he goes through the importance of figuring out what’s causing your snoring and how to stop it.
What causes snoring?
Snoring is a common occurrence for everyone, including men, women, and children. According to Dr. Reisman, snoring is quite common among children. However, men and obese individuals are more likely to experience it. And as you get older, it tends to get progressively worse.
Snoring occurs when a person’s airway is restricted while they sleep. In order to get air through the soft tissues, they vibrate, which causes the unmistakable honks and snorts that make your partner threaten to kick you out of the bedroom.
Some people are born snorers, while others can’t help it. However, snoring is often a symptom of a more serious medical issue, such as:
- Nasal structural issues, such as a septum that has shifted inward.
- Tonsils or adenoids that are too big.
- Itchy, runny nose all the time.
Snoring and sleep apnea
Snoring is not hazardous in and of itself. However, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be a symptom. Over and over again, this sleep condition causes you to cease breathing for short intervals of time.
Even after a good night’s sleep, you may still be exhausted the next day. You may find it difficult to focus at work or school because you are sleepy during the day. Some people fall asleep at work or while driving, increasing the risk of a car accident or workplace injury.
Snoring treatment is a health issue for those with sleep apnea. It is possible to suffer from major health issues, such as:
- Diabetic hypertension.
- Heart disease, including heart attacks and heart failure.
Make Bedtime Adjustments
Making one or more small changes before bed can help many people significantly reduce or even eliminate their snoring.
Sleep on Your Side
Snoring is more likely to occur in certain sleeping positions than others. Supine (back) sleeping is associated with increased snoring. People who sleep on their sides, or in a lateral position, tend to snore less than those who don’t. People may snore less with their heads tilted to the side, suggesting that the posture of the head, rather than the body, is the primary factor in snoring.
Sleeping on your side rather than your back may help reduce snoring. If you’re having problems shifting to a side-lying posture while you sleep, you might want to try employing pillows to your advantage.
Wear a Nasal Strip or Dilator
Nasal dilators, both internal and external, are designed to increase airflow while you’re sleeping. So, they could be an effective means of reducing nighttime snoring. These convenient gadgets can be purchased cheaply and without a prescription from a pharmacy or online.
Small, bendable strips, either type of nasal dilator uses tension to widen the nasal passages. External dilators, also known as nasal strips, adhere to the outside of the nose to widen the nasal passages. Pulling outward as it tries to keep its form, it lifts the skin of the nose and widens the nasal passages. The difference is that a nasal dilator used internally works from the inside. It pushes outward rather than pushing on the outside of the nose. Both external and internal dilators have been shown to be effective in reducing snoring, but studies have shown that internal dilators are more so.
Use an Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece
Several dental aids have been developed to reduce snoring. Due to the fact that they are larger and stay in the mouth all night, anti-snoring mouthpieces may take some getting used to compared to nasal strips. There are two main types of anti-snoring mouthpieces available for purchase without a prescription from a doctor’s office.
One common form of anti-snoring mouthpiece is the mandibular advancement device (MAD). Adjusting the position of the lower jaw forward is a common modification to these mouthguards after they have been molded to fit the wearer’s teeth. Reduce your snoring with this simple jaw adjustment.
Another type of anti-snoring mouthpiece is a tongue retaining device (TRD) or tongue stabilizing device (TSD). This mouthpiece, like the MAD, is designed to be worn in the space between the teeth. Instead of repositioning the lower jaw, however, it serves to keep the tongue in its proper place. A small part of the mouthpiece uses suction to keep the tongue from falling back into the throat. In one study, a tongue retaining device reduced snoring intensity by 68%.
Besides reducing snoring, anti-snoring dental devices can even positively impact mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Sleepers shouldn’t self-diagnose or self-treat sleep apnea, however. Only use a dental device for sleep apnea with the approval of your doctor.
Make Lifestyle Changes
Some people have tried nasal dilators and anti-snoring mouthpieces, yet they continue to snore even when sleeping on their side. If that describes you, it could be time to think about making some serious adjustments to your way of life.
Reduce Body Weight
One of the first and most significant remedies for snoring that experts prescribe is losing weight. It goes without saying that this advice is meant only for those who are overweight or obese. If you want to know whether or not your weight is healthy for your height and frame, you can consult a simple chart provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Like roughly 74% of Americans, you might benefit from losing some weight. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are both more common in obese people. The symptoms of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are both ameliorated by weight loss in patients with a high body mass index, according to the literature.
Take a healthy approach to losing weight. Crash diets are risky and ineffective short-term solutions to weight loss. Instead, adopt the CDC’s recommendations for improving your diet and lifestyle to reduce your risk of disease.
Try Mouth Exercises
In order to put an end to your snoring, you need do certain mouth exercises in addition to your regular workout routine. In the medical community, these techniques are known as oropharyngeal exercises, and they have been shown to significantly cut down on snoring.
Exercises for the mouth and tongue are a great way to build up the muscles in the tongue, soft palate, and throat. Research has shown that three months of mouth exercises can reduce snoring by 59%.
Increased snoring is one of the side effects of smoking cigarettes. The converse is also true, though less obviously so: if you smoke, quitting might help your snoring. In addition, kids whose parents smoke often have a higher snoring rate. If you’re a smoker and your kids are snoring, stopping might help them do so, too.
Naturally, snoring is just one of smoking’s many side effects. Cigarettes shorten the lives of smokers by an average of ten years and are responsible for roughly one-third of all deaths from coronary heart disease and 90% of all cases of lung cancer in the United States.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Drinking alcohol before bedtime not only causes more snoring, but also causes obstructive sleep apnea in those who don’t normally suffer from it. If you tend to consume numerous drinks each day, you may want to start with reducing your intake to see if that improves your snoring and sleep quality. Stop consuming alcohol at least a few hours before bedtime, or consider giving it up altogether, if that doesn’t help you stop snoring.
Home remedies for snoring: How to stop snoring naturally
Depending on the root cause, snoring can be treated in a variety of methods. As an example of home remedies, consider:
Work toward a healthy weight
Dr. Reisman believes that extra weight is a major factor in snoring for both children and adults. Due to the relaxation of the muscles in the back of the throat during sleeping, excess fat in the neck can press on the airway, preventing breathing. Losing weight can release a lot of tension.
Medications such as antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays can ease breathing and reduce nighttime noise in patients who suffer from persistent nasal congestion.
Change your position
You could try elevating the top of your mattress. Furthermore, it has been suggested that sleeping on one’s side, rather than one’s back, can reduce snoring. (It may sound crazy, but some individuals really do sew a tennis ball into the back of their shirt so they can’t turn over onto their back during the night.)
Open your nose
If you want to reduce your snoring, try opening your nasal passages before bed. Nasal strips are adhesive patches used to prop open the nostrils and enhance breathing. Nasal dilators, which are inserted into the nostrils, are another alternative. Strips and dilators can be found at any drugstore for very little money.
Doctor-approved ways to stop snoring
If you experience symptoms of sleep apnea or if tennis balls and nasal strips haven’t helped, ask to your doctor about these proven treatments that target both snoring and apnea at the same time:
Embrace the CPAP
The most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). While you sleep, you breathe through a mask placed over your nose or mouth. As you snooze, the compressed air will prevent any obstructions to your airways.
Devices had a bad rep in the past because of their awkward size and poor comfort. But Dr. Reisman thinks they’ve come a long way. He explains that modern machines are more user-friendly than ever before because of their sleek design, compact size, and array of optional comfort features. Even while it may take some time to adjust to, “it immediately eliminates the snoring and sleep apnea condition.”
Get fitted for an oral appliance
An oral appliance can help with snoring if a CPAP doesn’t work for you. During the night, these mouthguard-like devices keep the lower jaw forward, which keeps the airway clear.
You can find some options in stores, but Dr. Reisman suggests getting an appliance made specifically for your mouth at a dental office or oral surgery clinic. He warns that a poorly fitted appliance might cause jaw strain and lead to other health issues.
In some cases, surgical intervention might resolve snoring issues. Methods consist of:
- The cartilage and bone separating the nostrils is what is being repaired when a deviated septum is corrected. It’s a little wonky sometimes. Dr. Reisman warns that this condition can lead to a restriction of airflow via the affected nostril. “Snoring can be reduced with surgical correction of the deviated septum.”
- Surgical reduction of the turbinates: Dr. Reisman explains that “structures called turbinates” may be found inside the nose and are responsible for humidifying, warming, and purifying the air you breathe. They can also become bigger. If the turbinates are surgically reduced, ventilation is enhanced and snoring is reduced.
- Removing the tonsils and adenoids is a common procedure for treating snoring and other sleep-disorders in children and adults. These large masses of tissue are located in the back of the throat and nose.
- If you get rid of them, you may notice an improvement.
- Palate and uvula reduction: Snoring can be caused by an enlarged uvula, a little piece of tissue that hangs from the border of the soft palate. Dr. Reisman explains that snoring and sleep apnea can be treated with surgery to remove the uvula and/or a part of the soft palate.
- Surgical implantation of a nerve stimulator entails positioning of a small device next to the affected nerves in the neck or throat. A device similar to a pacemaker is surgically implanted in the patient’s chest. The machine keeps track of your breathing and gently stimulates your throat muscles to keep your airways open and prevent apnea.