Anthony Burgess famously said ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone!’ Aren’t these words true! Snoring is the biggest cause of poor sleep quality for those who snore and their bed mates. You may be among the 45% of normal adults who snore occasionally, or you may know a chronic heavy snorer.
Snoring impacts both the quality and quantity of sleep and can become a serious problem. It can be caused by a number of factors so it’s important to find the cause of your snoring before attempting to find a cure. Snoring can create terrible problems in relationships where a partner can’t sleep due to excessive snoring. It can also indicate a far more serious problem – obstructive sleep apnea. In this sleep disorder breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods, which increases the risk of developing heart disease and a number of other health issues. Before taking drastic (medical) action, here are some quick tips to try and reduce/eliminate snoring naturally. If these efforts don’t improve the situation, we suggest you speak to a medical professional.
- Change your sleeping position – sleeping on your side can significantly improve your snoring. If you lie on your back when you sleep it makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. You can prop yourself up with a body pillow (a full length pillow that supports your entire body) or tape tennis balls to the back of your sleepwear to stop you rolling onto your back.
- Lose weight – although thin people also snore, weight loss can lead to improvements in snoring. If you carry weight around your neck, it squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, causing snoring.
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives five hours before sleeping – they reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. Large evening meals, dairy products, soy milk, sleeping pills and other relaxants, antihistamines and caffeine can also aggravate snoring. Try a herbal tea before bed instead!
- Develop better sleep hygiene/habits – poor sleep habits (e.g. working long hours without enough sleep) can lead to over tiredness. When you eventually get into bed you sleep deeply and the muscles become floppier, thus causing snoring.
- Open nasal passages – If snoring starts in your nose because you are congested, opening nasal passages open may help reduce snoring as it allows the air to move through slower. Try a hot shower before you go to bed, a salt water rinse of the nasal passages, a massage of your sinuses using essential oils or an aromatic chest rub to clear the passages for air to move freely. There are also homeopathic remedies available which will help you to open your air ways.
- Try throat exercises to strengthen muscles in the upper respiratory tract and therefore reduce snoring.
- Change your pillows and bedding – allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow/duvet may contribute to snoring. Dust mites accumulate in pillows and can cause allergic reactions that lead to snoring. Latex, buckwheat and wool pillows are naturally hypoallergenic and replacing your pillows may make a significant difference. ‘Special pillows’ developed to prevent snoring may work if they prop up your head but watch out they do not cause neck pain. Also check to see what substances have been used to make the pillows – you may exchange one problem for another! Allowing pets to sleep on the bed causes you to breathe in animal dander, another common irritant.
- Stay well hydrated – Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated causing increased snoring. Drink fresh water throughout the day to stay well hydrated.
- If you smoke, try to stop. If you smoke, your chances of snoring are higher. Smoking causes airways to be blocked by irritating the membranes in the nose and throat.
- Keep bedroom air moist with a humidifier. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat.
- Keep a sleep diary – enlist your non-snoring sleep partner to keep a diary to help you understand the causes of your snoring. How you snore will reveal why you snore. When you know why you snore, you can work towards a cure. For example:
- Closed-mouth snoring may indicate a problem with your tongue.
- Open-mouth snoring may be related to the tissues in your throat.
- Snoring when sleeping on back is probably mild – improved sleep habits and lifestyle changes may be effective cures
- Snoring in all sleep positions can mean snoring is more severe and may require a more comprehensive treatment
Hayley Fraser-Mackenzie is a passionate advocate for the power of sleep. As a reformed insomniac, non-snorer, mother of three and owner of http://www.naturalsleepshop.com, she brings a simple yet thorough view to why natural approaches are best to obtain that beautiful but often elusive state of sleep. http://www.naturalsleepshop.com is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for everything you need to sleep better, naturally. Ethical, renewable, effective, comfortable, safe, hypo allergenic are key features of the entire range of products available in this online store.