Snoring – it’s ruined many a peaceful night’s sleep in countless households. It’s hard to get sufficient, restful shut-eye when someone next to you is sawing logs all night long. And more importantly, consistent snoring could be a sign of a serious sleep condition like sleep apnea or other health problems.
But whether it’s you or your sleeping partner who’s the nocturnal nuisance, you have some options for ways to keep the snoring to a minimum. Keep reading for our top secrets for shutting down nighttime snoring and getting a good night’s sleep.
How to Stop Snoring
- Get plenty of exercise
- Change your sleeping position
- Stop smoking
- Use a humidifier
- Establish a consistent sleep routine
- Clean nasal passages before bed
- Avoid inflammatory foods
- Be careful with alcohol and sedatives
- Reduce bedroom allergens
- Treat sleep apnea
Nearly half the U.S. adult population snores – at least occasionally, and a full quarter snore habitually. There’s a big difference between the infrequent bout of snoring and consistent, trumpeting, keep-everyone-else-awake snoring that can lead to poor sleep for both the snorer and his/her sleeping partner. Chronic and habitual snoring can lead to sleep deprivation for both the snorer and anyone within hearing distance.
Why do we snore? Well, when we fall asleep, all the muscles in our neck and throat relax. That sounds like a good thing, but sometimes they can get too relaxed. When that happens, the airway through our noses and throats gets narrower, making it difficult for air to pass through as we breathe. When air passes through a constricted airway, the tissues inside it vibrate – creating a most horrible concerto that no one enjoys listening to. The narrower your airway – possibly caused by aggravated by allergies or congestion – the louder the snoring.
Is it true that men snore more than women?
Fun fact: Thanks to our good old friend biology, men typically have narrower airways than women, so they are statistically more likely to snore. Sorry, guys.
Most of the time, snoring is considered a minor issue that can be remedied with some simple techniques and habit changes that help keep that airway more open. It may even be a temporary condition related to a stuffy nose, allergic reaction, congestion, or pillow position. But for other people who snore, snoring may be related to sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, which would need to be treated under a doctor’s supervision.
How to Stop Snoring
If you’re not sure about the source of your snoring, give a few of these snoring remedies a try – you might see (and hear) some good results!
Get Plenty of Exercise
This seems to be the answer for most everything, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, exercise can help improve muscle tone in the neck and throat, which helps keep you from snoring during the night. Regular exercise also can also prevent excessive weight gain. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to stop snoring before it ever starts. Sleepers who are overweight are up to two times more likely to snore than those who aren’t – they may have extra tissues in the throat that narrow their airways and lead to chronic snoring.
While you’re exercising, make sure to drink plenty of water. Allowing your body to become dehydrated can cause the natural mucus in your nose and soft palate to become extra sticky, which makes it harder to breathe and can lead to increased snoring.
Change Your Sleeping Position
Back sleepers are typically the most likely to start snoring. If you try sleeping on your side instead, you and your sleeping partner may notice a dramatic drop in snoring activity. When you sleep on your back, it’s easy for your tongue to fall backwards into your throat, which makes you snore while breathing. If sleeping on your side isn’t comfortable, you can also try elevating your head with more pillows and see if that helps cut down on the log-sawing. Raising your head can help your jaw and tongue open your airways a bit more to make breathing quieter.
It might sound extreme, but you can also try sewing a tennis ball into the back of your pajama top. This will prevent you from rolling onto your back during the night. If you sleep on an adjustable bed frame, you can also try raising your mattress by about four inches to change the angle of your head while you sleep. Some sleepers also report success using a body pillow to help make sure they stay situated on their side throughout the night.
This should go without saying, but if you smoke, quitting that nasty habit is a no-brainer for a lot of reasons. Since smoking irritates the lining of your throat and nose, you’ll likely see a decrease in nighttime snoring when you kick that habit. Inflammation can make it difficult to breathe, so habitual smokers are likely culprits when it comes to chronic snoring. If you think you’ll have trouble quitting, your doctor can recommend a good plan for helping you stop the habit for good.
Use a Humidifier
Sometimes dry air in your bedroom can cause your throat and nose to dry out and become irritated, which leads to snoring. Using a humidifier can help keep you breathing moist air that’s more soothing and comfortable for a good night’s sleep. The extra humidity in the room also helps air to pass through your nose and throat more easily — and more quietly.
Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine
Having a regular bedtime schedule and getting a consistent amount of restful sleep every night can go a long way toward cutting down on nighttime snoring. Studies show that sleep deprivation is a common cause of snoring. When you’re overtired, you tend to sleep harder and deeper, which makes the muscles of the neck and throat even less likely to properly support your airway. If you’re an adult, you should be getting at least seven hours of restful sleep per night.
Clean Nasal Passages Before Bed
A nasal saline rinse is a simple way to help cut down on snoring. If you’re wrestling with allergies or nasal congestion, that often causes mouth breathing while you sleep, which compresses your throat and can lead to – you guessed it – snoring. In addition, narrowed nasal passages just make it difficult for air to move through your nose comfortably and without noise. You can find several over-the-counter options, ranging from simple nasal spray to a neti pot and more complicated sinus or nasal rinse systems. You can also try nasal strips, which many sleepers find helpful for eliminating snoring. Taking a hot shower before bed also helps open nasal passages for many people.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Certain foods are known to increase inflammation within our bodies – and increased inflammation can also lead to snoring. The two most likely culprits are dairy and gluten, so if your diet is heavy in those two items, look for opportunities to cut back. You don’t have to panic and quit everything cold turkey, but if you have an opportunity to reduce the amounts of gluten and dairy in your diet, it might be worth doing so to see if that helps reduce your snoring.
Be Careful with Alcohol and Sedatives
Many people like to have a glass of wine before bed or use sleep medicine to wind down and help fall asleep, but a habit like this can be a slippery slope. Drugs and sedatives are known to relax the throat muscles, which can cause you to snore. Remember that when throat muscles get too relaxed, they can block air flow through your throat and nasal passages. It’s a good idea to stop drinking alcohol at least two hours before bedtime, and make sure your doctor knows about any snoring issues you have before prescribing you any kind of sleep aid or sedative. Even people who don’t usually snore can start sawing logs after a drink or two before bed.
Reduce Bedroom Allergens
Everything from dust to outdoor allergens can find its way into your bedroom and into your bed. Make sure you’re changing and cleaning your bedding on a regular basis to rid yourself of allergens and environmental irritants that can make it difficult to breathe without snoring. Dust mites, especially, can build up in your pillow. If you have a pet that sleeps with you, there may be pet dander added to the mix as well.
In addition to regularly washing sheets, make sure to also put your pillows in the dryer on the fluff cycle once or twice a month, and try to replace your pillows every six months to keep dust and other allergens as low as possible.
If you suffer from severe environmental allergies, make sure you’re treating those appropriately. The irritation allergies cause within your nose and throat can make breathing difficult – and noisy – during the night. Work with your doctor to find out what kind of allergy treatment can help you sleep more quietly and restfully.
Treat Sleep Apnea
If you’ve tried these treatments for snoring with no fruitful results, it may be time to talk with your doctor about whether there’s a relationship between your snoring and sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which the sleeper repeatedly stops and starts breathing throughout the night. In addition to habitual snoring, symptoms of sleep apnea include irritability, trouble concentrating, daytime sleepiness, and gasping for air during the night. In addition to snoring, sleep apnea also can lead to other health problems like high blood pressure.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you have a few treatment options. Some patients wear a continuous positive airway pressure mask while they sleep, which will feed pressurized air into the airway throughout the night to keep it open and will eliminate snoring. Your doctor may also recommend sleeping with a type of mouth device that can adjust the position of your jaw, tongue and soft palate to keep your air passage open throughout the night. If you go this route, you’ll work with your dentist to have the device made and make sure it’s working properly. In worst-case scenarios, your doctor may also recommend various surgical options.
How to Stop Snoring
While snoring isn’t pleasant, it is a condition that often responds well to some simple habit changes that help improve the quality of your sleep. By breathing better during your night’s sleep, you can help cut down on the snoring. This can help improve the quality of sleep for your partner, as well. After all, no one likes sleeping next to an old engine revving up every night, and chronic snoring leads to a terrible night’s sleep for you, too.
You can try any and all of the snoring remedies and suggestions we’ve listed — you’re not limited to just one. Keep experimenting until you find a treatment for snoring – or a combination of treatments – that works well for you. In some cases, your snoring may need to be treated by your doctor. Try some of the snoring remedies listed here, and you may be on your way to a quiet and restful night’s sleep – for everyone in the house. Sweet dreams!