Do you snore?
If so, you are not alone. Around 90 million people in the United States snore. It’s not only embarrassing, but it can also prevent you and your partner from enjoying a restful night’s sleep. Some people snore so loud that they even wake themselves up in the middle of the night! As a result, they wake up tired and grumpy the next day, and their partner often does as well.
What causes snoring? It’s a noise created by vibrations in the back of your throat. When you snore, your muscles are relaxed which causes your tongue to fall back and create a narrow passageway in your throat. Then, when you breathe in, it causes vibrations and those dreaded snoring sounds.
Although it might just seem like a minor nuisance, snoring can actually become a serious problem. It can disrupt someone’s sleeping pattern, which can lead to fatigue and dysfunction throughout the day. Knowing what you can do to prevent this from happening is very important to both you and your partner.
Below are seven tips to prevent snoring:
– Change your sleeping position. If you’re more prone to snoring, it is important to avoid sleeping on your back because this causes your tongue to collapse to the back of your throat. Try to sleep on your side instead. Simple tricks such as using a body pillow can get you used to staying on your side at night.
– Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant, which will cause you to snore even if you don’t normally snore. Try to avoid drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping or sleep on the couch so your partner can get a good night’s rest.
– Lose weight. Gaining weight around the neck squeezes the internal diameter in your throat, which will make it more likely to collapse and cause that loud, annoying sound. If you didn’t snore before you gained weight but you do now, this might be a solution for you. Exercise can help you to fall asleep faster and sleep deeper as well, so it’s a win-win.
– Open your nasal passages. Sometimes snoring can occur when your nasal passages are blocked. If this is the case, try using adhesive nasal dilator strips at night to open up your passageways. You can also take hot showers along with squeezing a little saltwater solution in your nose to clear your nasal passages before bed. If you don’t see improvement with simple home snoring remedies, you might have enlarged inferior turbinates. By trimming the inferior turbinates, you improve the airflow in your nasal passages. This will reduce your snoring along with other sinus problems.
– Change your pillows. Allergens or dust mites on your pillow might be a reason you snore at night as well. If you feel fine during the day but get stuffy at night, start putting your pillows in the air-fluff cycle once a week and change your pillows every six months.
– Be well rested. If you are overtired when you lay down for bed because you’re not getting enough sleep, you fall into a hard, deep sleep. It is important you make sure you sleep the appropriate amount of hours that’s best for you, so you are well rested the next morning and won’t snore at night.
– Stop grinding. Stress, increased muscle tension and misalignment of the teeth can put stress on the jaw joints and cause pain, but grinding the teeth at night can also force the tongue back into the throat and narrow the airway during sleep. This can result in snoring as well as sleep disruption. Something as simple as a mouth guard can realign the bite, cushion the teeth and prevent the tongue from obstructing breathing at night.
If you still suffer from snoring that disrupts your sleep and your partner’s sleep, consider talking to your doctor to help learn about other possible solutions. Everyone needs their rest, so make sure that you take steps to keep your nights as restful and peaceful as possible.
Dr. Jordan Pritikin
Board-certified otolaryngologist at Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center