Do you know 45% of normal adults snore at least occasionally? Not only, such people are brunt of jokes at family gatherings, but snoring is serious condition too.
For one, a snoring spouse often keeps the other person from a quieter night’s sleep, which can sooner or later lead to separate bedrooms. To quote Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas: “Snoring can create real problems in a marriage.”
Slaughter adds: “Not only is snoring a nuisance for your spouse, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which enhances the risk of developing heart disease.”
A soft rattle? Or even a wounded warthog? Whatsoever may be the sound, snoring lately topped a poll for the biggest bedtime irritations.
And whereas nearly half of all middle-aged men snore, it’s not exclusively a male problem. It affects women too, especially after the menopause.
Be careful before you self-treat with over-the-counter sprays and pills until you’ve consulted with your doctor. To quote Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, program director for Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J.: “Many stop-snoring aids are marketed without scientific studies to support their claims.” Chokroverty is also a neuroscience professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences.
So, we asked a number of experts for advice and have prepared this ultimate guide to help you fix snoring. Try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, which may help you, stop snoring and get a quieter night’s sleep.
What Are The Main Snoring Causes And Natural Solutions?
1. Being Overweight: Weight gain is linked to a host of health problems and is a key trigger for snoring in men because, unlike women, they are likely to put on weight around their necks. To quote Marianne Davey: “If you have a collar size of 16½ inches or greater, the fatty tissue around your neck squeezes the airway and prevents air from flowing in and out freely when sleeping and the airway is more likely to vibrate.”
Solution – Lose Weight: Losing weight sensibly, through diet and exercise, can help stop your snoring.
To quote Slaughter: If you’ve put on weight and started snoring and was not snoring before you gained weight, weight loss may help. He further adds: “If you gain weight around your neck, it squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, triggering snoring.” He also : “Weight loss helps some people but not everyone. Thin people snore, too.”
2. Alcohol: According to Paul Tierney, ENT specialist at Spire the Glen Hospital, Bristol: “Alcohol is a sedative and depressant so it relaxes you.” He further says: “This can cause the muscles in the back of the throat to collapse – another key cause of snoring.” Sleeping pills and sedative medication, such as antihistamines, can also reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely that you’ll snore. To quote Chokroverty: “People who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.”
Solution – Avoid Alcohol: Resist taking alcohol or at least reduce your alcohol intake and try to have your last drink at least five hours before you go to bed. Cutting down alcohol intake will also help you lose weight.
3. Smoking: To quote Paul Tierney: “Smokers are approximately twice as likely to snore as non-smokers.” Cigarette smoke inflames lining of the nasal cavity and throat, resulting into swelling and catarrh. The consequential congestion of the nasal passages causes it hard to breathe through your nose, says Marianne Davey. So the more you smoke, the more are chances that you will snore. Even passive smoking enhances the risk of snoring.
Solution – Quit Smoking: Refrain from smoking! Or at least try to have your last cigarette at least five hours before bed to let your body get a chance to lessen the effects of the smoke.
4. Sleeping Position: Lying on your back causes the base of your tongueand soft palate fall back into your throat, narrowing the airway – thereby producing a vibrating sound during sleep. That’s why when you sleep on your back; you are more likely to snore than if you sleep on your side due to the effects of gravity on the upper airway.
Solution – Change Your Sleep Position: Sleeping on your side may help avert this. It’s easier said than done to sleep on your side, if you don’t do it intuitively.
And to quote Marianne Davey, director of the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (http://www.britishsnoring.co.uk/): “In fact, studies have shown that “positional therapies” are ineffective.”
According to Slaughter “A body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports your entire body) provides an easy fix. It enables you to maintain sleeping on your side and can make a dramatic difference. “
Chokroverty advises: “Taping tennis balls to the back of your pajamas can also stop you from sleeping on your back.”
Another option is a mandibular advancement device. These are mouthpieces that are worn at night to hold the lower jaw and tongue forward, making more space to breathe.
Another option is a shaped pillow which puts your head in a slightly tilted position and opens the airway at the back of the throat.
“If snoring continues irrespective of the sleep position, obstructive sleep apnea could a cause. Consult a doctor in such a case,” Chokroverty says.
5. Allergies: Allergies, like hay fever, affect 10-25% of the population and the nasal congestion that they cause can be a factor for snoring as well as affecting sleep quality.
Swelling in the lining of the nose and throat affects breathing through the nasal airway, especially at night.
Solution – Treat The Allergy: Take proper treatment and remedies for hay fever, opt for barrier bedding if you’re allergic to dust mites and forbid smoking in the house (children of parents who smoke are twice as prone to snore as those from non-smoking families).
Consider using an anti-inflammatory herbal spray to relieve the symptoms of nasal congestion, says Marianne Davey.
6. Mouth Breathing: According to Marianne, if you habitually sleep through the night with your mouth open, you probably snore. She further says, “When we breathe in through the nose, the air passes over the curved part of the soft palate in a gentle flow into the throat without creating unnecessary turbulence. When we breathe in through the mouth, however, the air hits the back of the throat ‘head on’ and can create enormous vibrations in the soft tissue.”
Solution – Appropriate Devices: Mouth breathing devices, such as Chin-Up Strips (self-adhesive strips to prevent the mouth falling open) will cause you to breathe through your nose.
7. Small Nostrils: Small or “collapsing” nostrils cause it difficult to breathe through the nose while sleeping. This makes you breathe through your mouth, that means you will snore.
Solution: Wearing nasal dilators, such as Nozovent can help. This is a springy, flexible plastic gadget that “holds” the nostrils open.
8. Blocked Nasal Passages: If snoring starts in your nose, blocked nasal passages may be the culprit. Slaughter says: “Imagine a narrow garden hose with water running through. The narrower the hose, the faster the water rushes through.” Your nasal passages function similarly. If your nose is blocked or narrowed due to a cold or other blockage, the fast-moving air is more likely to cause snoring.
Solution – Open Nasal Passages: Keeping nasal passages open may help. It lets air to pass through slower, so as to prevent snoring. You can also try a hot shower before you go to bed to help open nasal passages. Slaughter advises: “Also, keep a bottle of saltwater rinse in the shower. Rinse your nose out with it while you’re showering to help open up passages.” Another option is Nasal strips. They work to elevate nasal passages and open them up.
9. Tongue Vibrations: According to Marianne Davey, if you’ve been a heavy snorer for some time, impairment to the nerves and muscles of the upper airway makes them more likely to collapse. This constricts the airway and that leads to vibration of the tissue of tongue, affecting it to obstruct the airway constraining you from breathing. (This is known as “apnoea” – plainly “without breath”).
Solution – Use MAD: Clinical studies demonstrate that a mandibular advancement device (MAD) can facilitate to keep the tongue away from back of the throat.
10. Or Is It Sleep Apnoea?: Obstructive sleep apnoea is a disorder that causes interrupted breathing during sleep and is because of an obstruction to the airway.
It affects approximately four per cent of middle-aged men and two per cent of middle-aged women, and studies show that 60 per cent of those over 65 have OSA.
Such affected people discontinue breathing for periods of 10 seconds or more before waking with a loud snore or snort as the brain registers a dearth of oxygen.
People having sleep apnoea generally complain of extreme daytime sleepiness usually with irritability or restiveness but remember no episodes of apnoea. (It’s generally the bed partner who observes the symptoms).
OSA can span from very mild to very serious one. If left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, a heart attack and stroke.
Diagnosis is by means of a “sleep study”, either at hospital or, may be, at home, where an apparatus is used to monitor the quality of sleep.
Treatment ranges from a MAD to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), using a machine to avert the airway from collapsing or getting blocked.
Family Fitness Tip: “The key is to find out what type of snorer you are before buying devices – and what you can do about it – by taking the interactive test.” advises Marianne Davey, director of the British Snoring & Sleep Apnoea Association (http://www.britishsnoring.co.uk/).