Snoring is a problem that affects more than half of all American adults. It can disrupt sleep patterns, cause reduced oxygen levels and blood pressure during the day, lead to depression or anxiety symptoms like poor concentration or irritability, impair relationships with partners who have trouble sleeping due to snoring noise; in worst-case scenarios, it may even be linked to increased risk for heart disease and stroke! In short, snoring can cause serious health problems.
Why do I snore?
There are a few factors. For one, weight can play a role - carrying any extra pounds around your neck and throat may cause you to snore. And then there's biology: men tend to have narrower air passages than women do, so they're more likely to snore more.
Although snoring is common to most people, it can sometimes develop into a chronic snoring problem, which can signify underlying health conditions or cause strains in relationships and marriages.
RELATED: Snoring: Causes & Risk Factors
How to Cure Snoring
In most cases, snoring can be easily changed with over-the-counter sprays and pills. However, it's not advisable to start treatment without consulting with your doctor. If you are diagnosed with a snoring problem, there are many approaches to get rid of it, some natural & some medical. Medical treatment usually offers a long-term solution, but it's mostly recommended for extreme cases like when your snoring is highly persistent and has developed into sleep apnea.
But before turning to more dramatic measures, try out these home remedies:
Home Treatments For Snoring
Throat Exercises to Stop Snoring
Before going for surgical or invasive interventions to cure your snoring, studies have shown that certain exercises strengthen some respiratory tract muscles and reduce snoring. Here are throat exercises that might help minimize obstruction of the airway:
- Read the vowels out loud for three minutes a few times a day.
- With the tip of your tongue behind the top of your front teeth, slide your tongue towards the back of your upper mouth for three minutes a day.
- Purse your lips with your mouth closed and hold for 30 seconds.
- Open your mouth, move your jaw to the left, and hold that position for 30 seconds. Repeat on the right side.
- Sing. It's fun, and it gives you more control over your throat and soft palate muscles, which helps reduce snoring.
Alter Your Sleeping Position
Sleeping on your back collapses your soft palate to the throat's back wall. This triggers vibrations as you breathe, causing you to snore. Specialists advise that you use a full-length body pillow to support your body, stop you from sleeping on your back, and help you sleep on your side more comfortably.
If you struggle to maintain sleeping on your side, try taping or sewing a tennis ball on the back of your pajama. The ball will help you keep sleeping on your side by exerting pressure whenever you attempt to sleep on your back.
You can also consider a quality anti-snoring pillow.
Lose A Few Pounds
This remedy is most effective for people who only started snoring after gaining significant weight. If you have added a couple of pounds and started snoring while you didn't snore before, losing some weight might be all you need to prevent snoring.
Overweight people and those who gain a lot of weight on the throat often run the risk of the throat muscles collapsing when they sleep, obstructing airflow, and triggering snoring. People who lose weight also enjoy more health benefits than the prevention of snoring alone.
Avoid Alcohol & Sedative Intake
Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the back of your throat, making you more likely to snore in your sleep. Even people who don't typically snore increase their chances of snoring when they drink too much alcohol. So, don't take alcohol if you have less than 3 hours before going to bed as it can make your snoring worse. Similarly, sedatives depress the central nervous system, making the muscles, including those at the back of your throat, relax too much and cause snoring.
Exercise Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep deprivation increases the chances of snoring. One such habit is sleeping too little or working long hours without sleeping correctly. As a result, at the end of the day, you retire to bed feeling extremely exhausted.
The result of sleeping with extreme exhaustion is that you slip into a deep sleep, muscles relax, and become sloppier, which eventually leads to snoring. To reduce snoring, it's advisable that you set aside and develop a schedule so that you can get enough sleep every day rather than crushing in on the weekends only.
Here are four quick tips to get you started on your sleep hygiene and routine
- remove electronics from the bedroom at night
- keep your sleeping environment cool and dark in order to promote sleepiness;
- create a pre-bedtime routine for winding down before bed;
- cut off all caffeinated beverages past noon can also make snoring disappear.
Visit our complete homeopathic snoring remedies for a more comprehensive discussion on this topic.
Use Nasal Strips or an External Nasal Dilator
For some people, snoring starts in the nose. If that's the case for you, applying adhesive strips to the bridge of your nose will help reduce snoring. In addition, nasal strips and nasal dilators increase the nasal passage area, allowing air to flow through unobstructed.
Other than nasal strips and dilators, other home remedies can open up your nasal passages to reduce snoring. They include:
- Taking a hot shower before retiring to bed
- Rinsing your nose out with saltwater
However, this remedy only works if the problem is domiciled in your nasal passage. If you have OSA or the problem stems from your soft palate, you may need to talk to your doctor to get a medical solution.
Maintain a Hygienic Sleeping Environment
You are more likely to snore if your sleeping environment is unhygienic. For example, if there are allergens in your bedroom or on your pillow, they might cause you to snore. Replacing pillows regularly and dusting your AC will help eliminate the dust and allergens that may contribute to snoring.
Dirty pillows might harbor dust mice which can cause allergic reactions that may cause snoring. Dander from animals that sleep on your bed could also contribute to irritation and obstruction in your airway.
You can tell if there are allergens and irritants in your bedroom if you realize you often feel obstructed at night while you're okay during the day.
Medical Procedures to Stop Snoring
If other treatments have failed, your doctor might advise that you try:
Oral Mouthpiece Devices
Your jaw, tongue, and soft palate contribute to your snoring when they relax as you sleep. Oral mouthpieces help support these tissues and muscles to keep them from obstructing your airway and allow air to flow freely.
If you talk to your doctor and they recommend a dental appliance to combat your snoring, you'll need to visit a dentist to customize the best dental fixture for you. Additionally, a visit to a sleep specialist will establish whether your palatal implants are working as intended. A device that has had good reviews in the past is the Mute Snoring Device.
After your mouthpiece is fixed and working, you'll need to visit your dentist twice in the first year and then once every year after. During these visits, the dentist will evaluate your oral health and check the fit of your dental appliance.
While this is one of the less invasive medical procedures to help stop snoring and support the soft palate, some of its possible side effects include:
- Jaw Pain
- Facial Discomfort
- Dry mouth
Upper Airway Surgery
There are several surgical procedures that can help treat severe snoring conditions that are accompanied by sleep apnea. The goal for these surgical procedures is to ensure no obstruction in the airway and prevent its narrowing during sleep.
Common upper airway surgeries to stop snoring include:
This procedure aims to tighten and trim excess throat tissue to widen the airway, allowing air to move through the throat with less obstruction. It makes breathing easy and reduces the effects of obstructive sleep apnea and the impact of labored breathing on your sleep.
During Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, doctors may remove tissues that include:
- The uvula, which is the soft tissue hanging down from the back top of the mouth.
- Part of the soft palate (the roof of the mouth)
- Surplus throat tissue
In some cases, snoring is caused by an enlarged tongue, which eventually causes sleep apnea. If that's the case for you, doctors may need to remove a tiny part of your tongue in a procedure called Uvulopalatopharyngoglossoplasty.
After the surgery to remove the excess tissue, you may need additional therapy to help you breathe better. This is called continuous positive airway pressure therapy or CPAP. CPAP therapy involves wearing a breathing instrument at night to ease your breathing and prevent airway closure at night.
Because pain relief medicine relaxes throat muscles, you may need to do without pain medication as your recover from surgery.
Maxillomandibular Advancement Surgery
MMA is a standard and often effective treatment for sleep apnea. Which means it also helps patients stop snoring. This procedure repositions the bones of the upper and lower jaws, effectively relieving any obstructions in the airway.
In addition, the MMA increases the tension of the pharyngeal soft tissue and raises the pharyngeal airway muscles. Typically, the pain experienced with MMA is less than that encountered with other surgical procedures such as UPPP, which means patients can return back to normalcy sooner.
Radiofrequency Tissue Ablation
Radiofrequency tissue ablation is one of the least invasive snoring treatments. During the procedure, heat is used to shrink the soft palate tissue and is reported to provide years of snore relief for patients and their partners.
Radiofrequency tissue ablation is especially popular among patients whose snoring problem is not related to OSA. However, RFA is often combined with partial removal of the uvula (tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat) for the effects of the treatment to last longer.
Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation
Hypoglossal nerve stimulation is like inserting a pacemaker for the tongue. Although this treatment is still fairly new, studies have proven that it can effectively treat snoring. The treatment stimulates the hypoglossal nerve, which is the nerve responsible for the tongue muscles' motor control, including elective and reflex functions like swallowing.
When the tongue muscles are stimulated, they stiffen, preventing them from relaxing and blocking the airway. The stimulating device features a breathing sensor that helps it determine when to stimulate and strengthen the tongue muscles.
Doctors implant the stimulation device in the chest and attach it to a stimulation lead touching the hypoglossal nerve. When the patient goes to sleep, they turn the device on and then off when they wake up using a small remote.
Unlike other surgical OSA interventions, this procedure does not alter the anatomy of the patient's face or airway.
While these procedures are some of the best and most effective methods to stop snoring, they are not the only ones. In addition, there are alternative home and lifestyle change interventions that may reduce or eliminate snoring altogether.
Types of Snoring and What They May Indicate
Different types of snoring may indicate other underlying conditions, which also calls for further treatment and management methods. They include:
- Snoring with your mouth closed: Often, closed-mouth snoring indicates a problem with the tongue.
- Snoring with your mouth open: The most probable cause for snoring with your mouth open would be throat tissues.
- Snoring while sleeping on your back: If you only snore when you lie on your back, you might only need a home remedy to counter your snoring. Improving your sleeping habits and lifestyle changes like weight loss may stop you from snoring.
- Chronic snoring: Chronic snoring occurs when you snore in all sleep positions. This type of snoring requires a more comprehensive intervention, which could include surgery and other medical procedures.
Dealing With Snoring: Bottom Line,
Snoring can disturb the quality of your sleep, and most importantly, that of your partners. But besides being annoying, it could be an indicator of a serious underlying health condition such as Obstructive Sleep Breathing Disorder which can be difficult and expensive to treat. SO, if you think your snoring is not normal, it's best to get checked by a doctor and start treatment before getting worse. There are plenty of options available to help you achieve better sleep every night.
Fairbanks, D. N., Mickelson, S. A., & Woodson, B. T. (Eds.). (2003). Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Kushida, C. A., Morgenthaler, T. I., Littner, M. R., Alessi, C. A., Bailey, D., Coleman Jr, J., ... & Pancer, J. P. (2006). Practice parameters for the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliances: an update for 2005. Sleep, 29(2), 240-243.
Ephros, H. D., Madani, M., & Yalamanchili, S. C. (2010). Surgical treatment of snoring & obstructive sleep apnoea. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 131(2), 267.
Semelka, M., Wilson, J., & Floyd, R. (2016). Diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults. American family physician, 94(5), 355-360.
Friedman, M., & Jacobowitz, O. (Eds.). (2018). Sleep Apnea and Snoring E-Book: Surgical and Non-Surgical Therapy. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Stuck, B. A., Dreher, A., Heiser, C., Herzog, M., Kühnel, T., Maurer, J. T., ... & Verse, T. (2015). Diagnosis and treatment of snoring in adults–S2k Guideline of the German Society of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. Sleep and Breathing, 19(1), 135-148.