You snore when the flow of air from your mouth or nose to your lungs makes the tissues of your throat vibrate when you sleep. This can make a loud, raspy noise. Loud snoring can make it hard for you and your partner to get a good night’s sleep.
You may not know that you snore. Your bed partner may notice the snoring and that you sleep with your mouth open. If snoring keeps you or your bed partner from getting a good night’s sleep, one or both of you may feel tired during the day.
Snoring may point to other medical problems, such as obstructive Sleep apnea can be a serious problem, because you stop breathing at times during sleep. So if you snore often, talk to your doctor about it.
Snoring is more common in men than in women.
Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing.
To stop snoring, it’s necessary to first identify exactly how and why you’re snoring. The good news is that no matter the cause, there are solutions to relieve your snoring and help you and your loved one sleep better at night.
COMMON REASONS FOR SNORING
People snore for different reasons. When you get to the bottom of why you snore, then you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep. Enlist your non-snoring sleep partner to help you keep a sleep diary to monitor your snoring. Observing patterns in your snoring can often help pinpoint the reasons why you snore, what makes it worse, and how to go about stopping your snoring.
- Being overweight or out of shape. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring.
- Age. As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
- The way you’re built. Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary.
- Nasal and sinus problems. Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
- Alcohol, smoking, and medications. Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
- Sleep posture. Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.
- Lose weight, If you’re overweight, dropping even a few pounds can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring.
- Exercise can also help to stop snoring. As well aiding weight loss, exercising your arms, legs, and abs, for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring. There are also specific exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your throat (see below).
- Quit smoking Quitting is easier said than done, but smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring.
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you’re taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse.
- Establish regular sleep pattern Create a healthy bedtime ritual with your partner and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way together can help you sleep better and often minimize snoring.
- Clear nasal passages. If you have a stuffy nose, rinse sinuses with saline before bed. Using a Neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips can also help you breathe more easily while sleeping. If you have allergies, reduce dust mites and pet dander in your bedroom or use an allergy medication.
- Keep bedroom air moist. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help.
- Change your sleeping position. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specially designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
- Sleep on your side instead of your back. Try attaching a tennis ball to the back of a pajama top or T-shirt. (You can sew a sock to the back of your top then put a tennis ball inside.) If you roll over onto your back, the discomfort of the tennis ball will cause you to turn back onto your side. Alternatively, wedge a pillow stuffed with tennis balls behind your back. After a while, sleeping on your side will become a habit and you can dispense with the tennis balls.
- Try an anti-snoring mouth appliance. These devices often resemble an athlete’s mouth guard and help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw and/or your tongue forward during sleep. While a dentist-made appliance can be expensive, cheaper do-it-yourself kits are also available.