What Causes Snoring and Ways to Stop it
By Becky Dotson
12 min read
Snoring is a fairly common issue, even though most people don’t realize they do it until someone tells them. According to the Sleep Foundation, 57 percent of men, 40 percent of women, and even 27 percent of children all snore.
Snoring happens when air flows past the relaxed tissues in the back of your throat. The air causes the tissues to rattle and vibrate as you breathe and creates the sound we know as snoring. Sometimes, the issue is just the size and shape of the tissues and muscle in your neck. They may be smaller and make you more prone to become a snorer. But in many cases, lifestyle factors are the culprit. Whatever the cause, snoring can be everything from a nuisance to your partner to an indication of a severe health issue.
Frequently, snoring is an indication that you have developed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). That’s when your airway becomes more narrow or closed during sleep, and you stop breathing momentarily. OSA can lead to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even stroke. If you think you may suffer from OSA, it’s best to see your doctor for treatment.
No matter the reason for your snoring, there are some changes you can make on your own to help decrease your chance of making the loud noises we all know too well.
Change Your Position
When we sleep on our back, our tongue and soft palate relax on the back wall of our throats, causing us to snore. Training yourself to sleep on your side can help. You may need to invest in a body pillow to help you keep from rolling over on your back. Some sleep experts recommend taping tennis balls to the back of your pajamas. The ball will wake you up every time you attempt to roll over and help you train yourself to sleep on your side.
Invest in an Air Purifier
The air quality in your bedroom may be the reason you’re snoring. Dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and other allergy triggers and pollutants can be lurking in the bedroom, causing problems while we sleep. Airborne particles can obstruct our breathing pathways – and at night, while you’re sleeping – can lead you to snore.
Air purifiers pull the air in, trap irritants and pollutants in the filter, and send clean and purified air back out. The best air purifiers use a True HEPA filter. They pull 99.97 percent of particles out of the air. And don’t worry about the noise – most air purifiers come with a sleep mode to ensure the air quality is optimal, while the noise level is minimal.
Air purifiers won’t just help with snoring; they will help with allergies and other issues that can cause you not to get a good night’s sleep.
It seems like the answer to every issue we have is to lose weight. Snoring is no different. Extra weight around your neck can squeeze the internal diameter of your throat and result in snoring. Experts say losing even a few pounds can help decrease your snoring risk.
Avoid the Nightcap
It’s not unusual to have a glass of wine to help you wind down after a long day, but alcohol can relax the muscles in the back of your throat, causing you to snore. Try not to drink alcohol for at least four or five hours before you go to bed to cut down the chances of snoring.
Have a Routine
Staying up late and not getting to bed on time can exhaust you. When you do finally go to bed, you sleep harder than you usually would, causing the muscles in your throat to relax even more. Having a set bedtime every night for yourself and making sure you get between seven and eight hours of sleep can help.
This will take the buy-in of your spouse, but raising the head of your bed by as little as four inches can help. The raised position will help keep your airways open and reduce the chance of you snoring.
Try a Nasal Strip
Several types of nasal strips on the market may help you cut down on your snoring. The strips stick to the bridge of your nose and help increase the space in your nasal passage. Opening up your nasal passage can help you breathe easier and reduce your snoring. You may have to experiment with different brands to see what’s most comfortable and practical for you.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated throughout the day. When you get dehydrated, the secretions in your nose and soft palate get sticky and can lead to snoring. So, drink plenty of water and other fluids – but try to stay away from caffeine since it can dehydrate you.
Treat Serious Issues
Snoring can be an indication of a more severe health risk. OSA is the most common one. Your doctor can order a sleep study to determine if that’s what you have and if you need a device to sleep in to help control your airflow and breathing.
Sometimes, chronic allergy issues can be the reason you snore, and it’s essential – not just for your sleeping but for your overall well-being – to figure out the proper treatment for your allergies.
Some people are born with or suffer a nose injury that causes a deviated septum. That’s when the wall that separates both sides of your nose is misaligned. The issue can restrict your airflow and cause you to breathe with your mouth while you’re sleeping. Your doctor will be able to diagnose a deviated septum and give you the best recommendations for treatment and correction.
Whatever is causing you to snore, it’s best to figure it out and get it taken care of as soon as possible. While it’s easy to laugh or joke about the rattling noise in the house at night, snoring can be the sign of a more serious issue. But even if there’s no concern for a bigger problem, your snoring may be keeping your partner awake and causing you not to get the sleep you need to stay healthy and rested.