7 Tips And Home Remedies To Help You Stop Snoring For Good
Let’s be honest, knowing you snore isn’t exactly a nice feeling, especially because you don’t tend to find out for yourself — it’s either through a partner, a family member or a friend who’s slept over enough times to eventually tell you. Some are even evil enough to record your snoring and playback your growling evening melody the next morning. But at the end of the day, it’s always good to know, right?
Most of the time, snoring is no cause for major concern — and trying to stop is more about the person whose sleep you’re disturbing, and to improve the quality of your own sleep. But there are circumstances where it does signal a bigger health issue and we’ll get to this in a second…
Firstly, why does it happen?
Snoring is the result of air struggling to move through your throat and nose while you’re sleeping. Help Guide, a non-profit mental health and wellness portal, explains that this struggle causes the surrounding tissues to vibrate, which then creates the Grrrr sound we’re all familiar with.
Several factors contribute to snoring and these include age, being overweight, nasal/sinus issues, smoking, alcohol consumption, your sleeping position and certain physical attributes (a narrow throat, having a cleft palate and so on). Knowing which of these factors is contributing to your snoring can help you find your solution. Sometimes it might take treating each of the causes one by one, but it’ll be worth it (and quiet) in the end.
What about sleep apnea?
Snoring is also one of the leading symptoms of a sleeping condition called sleep apnea. This occurs when one’s breathing is constantly interrupted during sleep, with pauses in breathing lasting from 10 to 30 seconds. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group say people with sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 400 times throughout the night. Whoa.
While it’s quite clear that this major disturbance in sleep will have a toll on sleep quality, leaving a person tired and fatigued the next day – sleep apnea is also a risk factor for conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. It’s serious.
Some of the most common signs of sleep apnea are:
- Snoring quite heavily and loudly and feeling extremely tired the following day.
- Choking or gasping for air while you’re sleeping.
- Falling asleep at strange times of the day (falling asleep while you’re eating, for example).
If you’ve experienced any of these, or someone has described your snoring in this way, it’s best to see a doctor or a sleep specialist.
If your snoring doesn’t necessarily fall into this category, then there are a few (relatively easy) changes you can make that can give you and your partner peace after shut-eye.
Change your sleeping position
If you usually sleep on your back, opting to sleep on your side can make the world of difference. Why? Sleeping on your back can block or narrow your airways, while sleeping on your side can actually aid in opening them up. Some people even go as far as sewing their pyjamas with tennis balls on the back, or filling a pillowcase with tennis balls and placing it behind their back when sleeping because sometimes old habits die hard.
Lose some weight
Excess weight is a significant contributor to snoring, and shedding a few extra kilos can go a long way in helping with the snoring. Before you get discouraged, you don’t have to ditch kilos like you’re a contestant on The Biggest Loser — it’s possible to see improvement even after losing just a small amount of weight.
Slow down on the alcohol (and the meds)
The National Sleep Foundation explains that things like alcohol and sleeping tablets often relax the muscles in the throat and this can interfere with breathing. Taking it a bit easier on these will result in some improvement. They also add that certain prescription meds can induce deeper sleep, so have a chat with your doctor if you’re taking any of these and find out if there are alternatives available.
Smoke is a risk factor for a significant number of conditions, symptoms and diseases — and snoring is another one on this long list. Smoking cigarettes often irritates the lining of your throat and nose, which leads to swelling. The swelling decreases the airflow between these two areas and causes you to snore. If quitting isn’t an option, at least try to cut down – this will also make a difference.
Clear your nasal passage
Keeping your nasal passage clear so that most of your breathing is happening through your nose rather than your mouth will improve snoring. So, if your nose has been blocked because of an allergy, or you have a condition like sinusitis, speak to your doc and see what you can use to keep your nasal passage clear and open.
Use a mouthpiece
You can get your dentist or orthodontist to make you a custom oral instrument/device (almost like an athlete’s mouthguard) that you put into your mouth before going to bed. This helps keep your airways open while you’re sleeping, which in turn eases snoring.
Use nasal strips/oral strips
Nasal oral strips, which can be bought over the counter, can also be an effective way to ease snoring. These are quite inexpensive — and can aid in making your breathing more efficient during sleep.