How to Stop Snoring: For You Or Someone Else
Snoring is the sound of disturbed or obstructed breathing, which can occur due to some primary factors like bulky throat tissue, poor muscle tone, or a long soft palate. During sleep, the small tissues around our tongue become floppy and relaxed as the space behind the tongue narrows. When air flows through the throat as we breathe in and out, the relaxed tissues flutter, making rattling, snorting, or grumbling sounds.
Snoring can also be a warning sign that you have a health condition that's interfering with breathing as you sleep. This includes noncancerous growths in the nose (nasal polyps), deviated septum, or a nasal condition caused by allergy or a sinus infection. And in some cases, snoring may be linked to more severe and life-threatening health concerns, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), obesity, and sleep deprivation.
Aside from being a health risk, snoring can also be a nuisance, keeping your partner from a good night's sleep. Fortunately, there are ways that help you stop snoring and give you and your partner the good night's sleep you both crave.
This guide provides a comprehensive overview of everything you should know about snoring, including what causes it and how to treat it.
What's the Difference Between Sleep Apnea and Snoring?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs when the airway collapses or gets blocked as you sleep, causing repeated lapses in breath. On the other hand, snoring is among the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
However, not everyone who snores has OSA. OSA-related snoring is often loud and sounds as if the person is snorting, choking, or gasping.
Dangers of Snoring in Your Sleep
The dangers of snoring majorly depends on its type, gravity, and frequency. For instance, occasional snoring due to a flu is usually harmless. However, frequent or very loud snoring can be a telltale sign of a severe sleep disorder. Here are the types of snoring in detail.
Light, infrequent snoring is normal and won't need medical testing or treatment. Its primary impact is on a roommate or bed partner who might be disturbed by the occasional noise.
Mild/primary snoring occurs three to four nights per week. Due to its frequency, it's more disruptive to couples and sleepers who share their beds. However, it's rarely seen as a health concern unless you notice signs of sleep apnea or sleep disruptions.
OSA-associated snoring is more problematic than mild and light snoring. If it goes without treatment, it can negatively affect your sleep quality and overall sleep hygiene. Unchecked obstructive sleep apnea is usually associated with excessive daytime sleepiness and severe health conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes.
Lifestyle Changes that Help Stop Snoring
Many snorers prefer resolving their snoring problems naturally by making lifestyle changes instead of using consumer anti-snoring remedies and medical treatments. But are there techniques that can really work? What changes can you make that positively impact your sleep disorder?
Below are some tips on how to stop snoring
Adjust Your Sleeping Position
Your likelihood of snoring majorly depends on the position you sleep in. For instance, you're more likely to snore when you sleep on your back, as this position makes it much easier for the airway to become obstructed. In contrast, people tend to snore less when sleeping on their sides. This could be more due to the position of the head than the body position, with sleepers snoring less when they turn their heads to the side.
That said, if you’re a back sleeper who snores at night, it may be time to try side sleeping instead. And if you have trouble changing your sleep position, consider using pillows to offer back and stomach support and keep your head and body in a side position. A good pillow option would be a body pillow, it’s comfortable and covers your body all round.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Aside from increasing snoring, drinking alcohol before bed can also induce OSA in individuals who don't have a sleep disorder. Remember, alcohol's effect on sleep and snoring is dose-related, so if you always drink multiple drinks, consider cutting back. And if that doesn't help reduce snoring, try to stop taking alcohol a few hours before sleeping or consider cutting out drinking altogether.
Reduce Body Weight
Weight loss is also a great solution for snoring. If you're overweight or obese, consider burning fat and maintaining a healthy weight. Weight can significantly impact your sleep since neck fat directly compresses the upper airway. Plus, fat on the midriff pushes the diaphragm up and shrinks your residual lung volume, increasing the chances of your airway collapsing.
Make sure to reduce your body weight in a healthy way. Crash diets will only work short-term and can be dangerous. Instead, focus on incorporating physical activity into your life and eating a healthy diet.
Exercise Your Snoring Muscles
Slackening of the muscles around your airway can increase your chances of snoring. Fortunately, exercises to strengthen your throat, tongue, and mouth can counteract this by building muscle tone to help reduce snoring. For anti-snoring exercises to work, consider practicing them for two to three months.
Smoking can greatly worsen your snoring. Fortunately, quitting smoking can help reduce snoring and improve your sleep. It's also worth noting that children who live with parents who smoke usually snore more. If you're a smoker and notice snoring in your kids, quitting can help them stop snoring.
Of course, snoring is only one of the many minor issues caused by smoking. Cigarettes cause about 90% of lung cancer cases and one-third of coronary heart disease deaths in the United States. It also takes an average of 10 good years off the lifespan of every smoker. That said, quitting smoking can not only help improve your sleep quality, but it's also good for your overall health and well-being.
Not drinking enough water before sleeping can aggravate snoring as it may irritate your mouth and throat tissues. Staying dehydrated can also make the mucus in your airways thicker, making the surfaces around this area more likely to stick together.
This can cause obstruction and snoring, especially for those who sleep with their mouth open. Something as simple as drinking enough water can help you stop snoring.
Medical Treatment for Snoring
If your condition is severe, your physician may suggest medical treatment alongside lifestyle measures.
Surgery is rarely the first-line solution for sleep apnea or snoring, but it may be an alternative if other approaches fail to work. Consider talking to your doctor to determine whether surgery suits your condition.
Here, a surgeon removes tissues from the uvula in the soft palate and the throat using a laser. This gives the throat more room for maximum airflow as the soft palate stiffens and the tissues grow where they were lasered.
Palatal implants are a minimally invasive surgical treatment option that can stiffen the soft palate. Aside from reducing snoring, palatal implants can also help treat obstructive sleep apnea.
Like laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty and palatal implants, somnoplasty can stiffen the soft palate and remove tissue from the uvula. However, somnoplasty uses radio waves to change mouth and throat tissues instead of implants and lasers.
Positive Airway Pressure Devices
Most sleep experts usually recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines as one of the best treatment devices for sleep apnea in adults. They use a hose and a mask to pump air into the airway, keeping it from being obstructed and making snoring sounds. Bi-PAP machines also work in a similar manner but they have different inhaling and exhaling pressure levels. On the other hand, APAP machines are smart devices that vary the pressure as required.
These machines are often effective treatment alternatives for sleep apnea and associated snoring. However, you need a prescription to acquire them, and they must also be calibrated to fit your breathing. So, consider working with a qualified sleep technician if you want to get started with a CPAP machine.
While wearing PAP masks can be uncomfortable at first, most patients get used to them quickly and find that using them reduces snoring and improves sleep.
Sleep Gadgets to Help You Stop Snoring
If you’ve tried making lifestyle changes but are still snoring throughout the night, then get yourself a sleep gadget. Anti-snoring gadgets work by preventing soft tissues from partially blocking your airway.
Some remedies are as simple as adding neck or head elevation through an inflatable device, a supportive pillow, a wedge, or an adjustable mattress base. Others involve using nasal strips or dental apparatuses to keep your airway open while sleeping.
Let’s look at the 5 best sleeping gadgets that can help you stop snoring.
Anti-Snore Chin Straps
Anti-snore chin straps are simple neoprene straps designed to hold your mouth as you sleep to keep it closed. It wraps perfectly around the sides of the head, fits under the chin, and fastens at the back with adjustable Velcro straps.
This gadget is a cost-effective, safe way of dealing with snoring, sleep apnea, and the many health complications of these conditions. It has a highly elastic material for maximum comfort. You can also use it with a CPAP mask to eliminate snoring and improve the quality of your sleep.
Anti Snoring & Air Purifier
Made of plastic and soft and comfortable silicone material, the 2 in 1 anti-snoring and air purifier gadgets come in reusable cases and are supposed to fit snugly into your nostril. Their snore-reduction vents have been specially designed to improve airflow through your nasal passageways.
Nasal strips are designed to relieve nasal congestion at night, which in turn helps reduce snoring. Users only need to wear a strip over the bridge of their nose to keep their nasal passage open, allowing air to flow more smoothly. Each strip is individually packaged and comes with a peel-away backing for easy application.
Unlike regular beds, adjustable beds enable you to choose the incline of your sleep surface to accommodate various sleeping positions. And this is good news for sleepers who snore because:
- You'll no longer have to spend a lot of time readjusting your pillow to find the most comfortable sleep position
- Elevating your head above your chest can reduce the pressure on your nasal passages and airway, which results in less obstruction and compression
That said, consider going for an adjustable bed frame with unique features that can combat snores and allow you to achieve better sleep.
What is Sleep Tracking and should you do it?
Sleep tracking is basically the process of monitoring your sleep by measuring inactivity and movement. This is usually done with the help of a sleep tracker. Most devices capable of tracking your sleep look at respiration and heart rate, which are closely connected to sleep stages. Plus, monitoring respiration can show potential breathing issues like sleep apnea and snoring.
Many sleep trackers use an accelerometer (a small built-in movement-detecting device) to access your movement as you sleep, thereby analyzing sleep time and sleep quality. Some have a microphone to pick up ambient noise, movement noise, and snoring to judge how well you sleep. Others may use a thermometer to offer valuable information on how room temperature may impact your sleep.
If you want to monitor your sleep, you can invest in a wearable sleep tracker, such as a Fitbit watch. Since a wearable device touches your body, it can monitor respiration, heart rate, and movement more directly. Once it collects sleep data, it processes it through an algorithm before displaying it in an app where you can easily review your history, assess how well you're sleeping, and look for areas where you can improve.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Heavy snoring can disrupt sleep, leading to morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. Poor sleep can also exacerbate the risk of mental health issues.
If you experience severe snoring, especially with other signs of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, you may want to seek medical advice. Your physician can help determine any underlying medical issues, check whether additional testing or treatment is necessary, and suggest ways of reducing or stopping snoring.