Almost half of adults have some trouble with snoring. While some light snoring may not pose a problem, loud snoring can be quite a nuisance to a sleeping partner and may indicate a more serious medical problem. If you or a loved one snores loudly, there are many ways to go about fixing the problem.
Why do you snore?
When a person is sleeping, the muscles in their face and throat relax; the tongue falls toward the back of the mouth, and the throat narrows. When you inhale, the walls of your throat vibrate, and as this channel becomes narrower, the characteristic vibrating sound that we associate with snoring gets louder. For this reason, weight gain specifically in the neck can exacerbate snoring, as the tissue build-up in this area constricts the throat.
In addition to weight gain, there are many factors that contribute to snoring. First, because the throat muscles relax more as people get older, snoring can worsen with age. In other cases, anatomical abnormalities in the nose and throat are to blame for the constricted breathing during sleep. During allergy season, inflammation in the nose and throat can also cause you to snore.
What steps can you take at home to fix loud snoring?
If loud snoring has become a problem for you, there are methods of self-treatment that may offer results. Through behavioral or physical changes, many people can achieve better sleep.
Change your sleep position. Because the tongue collapsing to the back of the throat causes snoring, sleeping on your side and thus preventing your tongue from falling back can make a dramatic difference. A full-length body pillow will support you through the night as you sleep on your side, or to train yourself not to sleep on your back, you can attach tennis balls to the back of your nightshirt. Some beds also offer different incline positions; sleeping with your head elevated may also relieve snoring.
Stay hydrated. When a person is dehydrated, the secretions in the nose and throat become more viscous, which makes snoring louder. Make sure you are getting the recommended amounts of water every day. Staying hydrated also means avoiding alcohol, especially in the hours leading up to sleep. Even people who don’t usually snore generally snore after drinking alcoholic beverages before bed. In addition to dehydrating you, alcohol acts as a sedative, those muscles in the back of your throat become even floppier under the influence, and the sound of snoring gets louder.
Use a snoring mouthpiece. Snoring mouthpieces and mouth guards are a quick and cost-effective way to stop snoring, as they hold your mouth in one position all night, reducing the likelihood of snoring. You’ll need to do some research to figure out what kind of mouthpiece to purchase, but there are a number of simple do-it-yourself tests that can help you make a decision.
Open up your nasal passages. If the problem mainly resides in your nose and not in your soft palate, opening the nasal passages may be an effective way to combat snoring. Taking a hot shower before you go to sleep can help open the nasal passages and allow air to move more slowly through them. While you are showering, you may also rinse out your nose with a bottle of salt water rinse to further aid the process. In some cases, nasal strips or nasal sprays may be an effective anti-snoring measure. However, consult your doctor before using any sort of over-the-counter medication as a sleep aid.
When should you seek medical attention?
Sometimes, you won’t be able to fix your snoring problem on your own. Snoring may be a symptom of more serious sleep disorders, and if you suspect you are suffering from more than just an artificial snoring problem, you should seek help from a medical professional.
If changing your sleep position or taking other measures at home does not prove successful in eliminating your snoring, you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a very serious condition that results when the upper airway is partially or completely blocked during sleep. The muscles in the chest and stomach work extra hard to pull enough air in, resulting in a loud snoring sound.
You can identify sleep apnea through a particularly loud snoring pattern; snoring gets louder and louder until a loud gasp or snort causes it to stop momentarily. During the period of silence that follows, the body is not breathing, stopping the oxygen flow to the brain and blood. As the body stops breathing multiple times throughout the night, sleep apnea can have serious detrimental effects on a person’s health and significantly increases the risk of heart disease. Quick fixes at home will not be effective against obstructive sleep apnea.
Improve your (and your partner’s) quality of sleep by taking steps to reduce your snoring with the easy fixes outlined above. Always play it safe, however, and if you are worried about more serious health risks, consult a physician.
Chief editor here at Snore Nation and a proud father of two cool boys. I am a reformed snorer, a reformed smoker, a reformed overeater, a reformed city dweller and a reformed workaholic stress monster on the mission to share my insider tips to restore that quality sleep for you and your partner!