Snoring, or loud breathing during sleep, is a harsh sound produced by vibrations in the back of the throat. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that over 37 million Americans are frequent snorers .
Although snoring is nothing to be ashamed of, it can affect sleep quality – according to the Alaska Sleep Education Center, snorers wake up frequently throughout the night . They may also suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness and chronic headaches.
The good news is that there are many natural and over-the-counter solutions that can help reduce snoring. Here are the most common causes of snoring and their corresponding solutions.
- Nasal issues
Certain nose and throat conditions can contribute to snoring. Having a deviated septum – a condition in which the nasal septum, or the cartilage that separates the left and right nostrils, changes position – partially blocks the airways, making you more likely to snore at night.
About 80% of the population suffers from a deviated septum. The condition may be present from birth owing to genetic and congenital factors, or may be the result of physical trauma to the nose, like an accident.
Solution: In severe cases, you may undergo septoplasty, a surgical procedure that straightens and repositions the nasal septum. However, if you want a non-invasive ways to stop snoring, you can try nasal dilators like Mute Snoring that gently lift the sides of the nose away from the septum. This opens up the airways and helps you breathe better during sleep.
In some cases, allergies that cause nasal congestion can also contribute to loud snoring. When you have trouble breathing through your nose at night, you might produce whistling or rumbling noises in your sleep.
Solution: Talk to your doctor to find out how you can manage chronic and seasonal allergies. They may prescribe medication to help alleviate your symptoms. Avoid triggers, and keep your bedroom free of allergens like dust and animal hair.
- Sleeping position
A nationwide survey by the Better Sleep Council (BSC) found that the Soldier position was the fourth most common sleeping position in the United States, with 11% of respondents saying they prefer to sleep flat on their backs, with their arms down their sides and close to the body.
The Starfish was the position of choice for 7% of participants, who like to sleep on their backs with arms stretched over their heads.
However, sleeping on your back will make you more likely to snore. This is because the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back of the throat when you sleep in this position, obstructing the airways during sleep.
Solution: Sleeping on your side can help reduce snoring, as it prevents the base of the tongue from blocking the airways. BSC also notes that this sleeping position is beneficial in alleviating insomnia and sleep deprivation.
They suggest that the Fetal position, or sleeping with your knees bent slightly upwards to the chest, is the most comfortable variation of side sleeping.
Have a bad back? No problem – you can sleep better on your side by wedging a pillow between your legs, since this eases the pressure on the hips and the lower back.
- Alcohol consumption
Taking alcohol four to five hours before bedtime can make you more likely to snore. Everyone’s throat muscles relax during sleep. But alcohol, a potent muscle relaxant, can cause those muscles to slacken even more, creating turbulence as you breathe.
Solution: Skip the booze after dinner. If you use alcohol to induce sleep, try herbal tea, like chamomile or lemon balm to feel more relaxed before bedtime.
If you really want to go out for drinks, go to Happy Hour, which is usually between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Drugs with a sedating effect, such as muscle relaxants, antihistamines, tranquilizers, narcotics, and sleeping pills, behave much like alcohol. They can exaggerate muscle relaxation in the throat and nasal passages, which induces snoring.
Solution: Avoid taking these medicines before bed. If you have a condition that requires you to take these medicines, ask your doctor if you can take them earlier in the day, and whether there are alternatives in the market that don’t worsen snoring. You can also discuss the risks versus benefits of taking these medicines for your condition.
If you simply take these drugs to help you fall asleep, try natural methods that also cause drowsiness, like taking a warm shower before bed or making sure your bedroom is conducive for sleep.
If you think you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, however, it might not enough to reduce snoring. Talk to your physician today for more solutions.