Most people don’t snore, or at least they don’t disturb anyone else when they do but almost half of us snore at least sometimes, or are disturbed by someone who does. Snoring may be seen as a joke but it can be very serious for sufferers or their sleeping partners, leading to sleeping in separate bedrooms or even total separation or divorce. Snoring is not only a nuisance to the sufferer and their sleeping partner but as many as 75% of those who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA sufferers stop breathing for short periods during their sleep. This can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
Anything like a cold or flu or even allergies that stuff up your nose and mean you breathe through your mouth instead, can make you snore, On a temporary basis, you can get over-the-counter medicines or nasal strips to keep your nostrils open but if you’re constantly stuffed up talk to your medical adviser.
Ways to reduce or prevent snoring
- Sleep on your side. Try sleeping with two or three stacked pillows so you’re not flat on your back but don’t make them too high as that can also cause snoring from tilting your head too far forward. Sew a small pocket on the back of your pajama jacket and put a tennis ball in it so you don’t sleep on your back.
- Check up on any drugs you are taking. Sedatives, muscle relaxants, and some antidepressants can relax your tongue and the muscles in your throat and this can lead to snoring Your doctor may be able to change your medications if this would help.
- Get enough sleep. Make getting enough sleep a habit. Go to bed and rise at regular hours.
- Don’t drink alcohol less than 3 or 4 hours before bed. Sleeping pills can also have the same effect, not only making snoring more likely but possibly worsening the quality of your sleep.
- Cut back on smoking. This irritates the throat lining and narrows the air passages, leading to snoring
- Keep your bedroom air moist. This helps lubricate your throat and makes breathing through your nose easier, reducing snoring. A humidifier may help.
- Treat allergies with antihistamines before going to bed. People with allergies may find they snore more during allergy season. And taking this treatment before bed can keep your nasal passages free during the night.
- Try tongue and throat exercises. Some people snore because the muscles in their mouth and throat have lost tone (slack or loose). Exercising these muscles can improve the muscle tone and reduce snoring. You can find a number of programmes that teach you singing exercises that will greatly improve your muscle tone. Or just try singing more often or even play the Australian didgeridoo. Research has found that volunteers who performed the exercises shown below daily over a period of three months not only reduced their snoring frequency but also snoring intensity compared with those who didn’t do the exercises.
Exercise 1: Push the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth and slide the tongue backward.
Exercise 2: Suck the tongue upward against the roof of the mouth and press the entire tongue against the roof of the mouth.
Exercise 3: Force the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom front teeth.
Exercise 4: Elevate the soft palate (the back of the roof of the mouth) and the uvula (the fleshy protrusion that hangs from the soft palate) while making the vowel sound “A.”
Check out the video for more information on stopping snoring.