Nighttime Noise: Tips for Stopping Snoring

by Wellness Editor – MH

It would be putting things mildly to say that snoring is common problem. Chances are that if you don’t personally have this problem, you know someone that does. While pinning down the exact number of snorers is a bit tricky, a number of estimates have categorized roughly 40 percent of men and 25 percent of women as habitual snorers. And as anyone who has slept near a snorer can tell you, snoring isn’t exactly easy on the ears; snores can range between 60 and 90 decibels in volume. To give this figure some perspective, consider that vacuum cleaners and chainsaws emit 70 and 100 decibels worth of volume, respectively.

All of this noise frequently puts a strain on couples who share bedrooms, resulting in hours of missed sleep and/or the exit of one of the inhabitants from the bedroom (sometimes preceded by arguments over who should make the exodus – the snorer or the unfortunate listener). If these scenarios sound all too familiar, fear not; snoring can be reduced or even eliminated through lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies. If you would like to start sleeping normally again, or feel guilty about keeping others awake with your jackhammer-like snoring habit, consider giving these tips a thorough look.

Sleep on Your Side, Not Your Back – Though it may seem inconsequential, your regular sleeping position can trigger an unending barrage of snoring. Specifically, people who sleep on their back often force their tongue and soft palate (the soft tissue located near the tonsils) to rest against the back of their throat. As air passes through the throat during sleep, these body parts vibrate against the throat wall, causing the sleeper to emit snores. By opting to sleep on his or her side, a chronic snorer can prevent the tongue and soft palate from moving into noise-producing positions.

Finally Drop That Extra Weight – There are few conditions with a worse reputation than obesity, and for good reason – being significantly overweight can cause your risks of developing cancer, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure to skyrocket. As sort of the cherry on top, obesity can also cause you to start snoring on a nightly basis. When the body packs on a large amount of excess weight, a lot of those extra pounds wind up on the neck. In turn, this weight constricts the throat’s air passages, leading to frequent snoring.

Pass on the Night Cap – While limited amounts of alcohol can be beneficial to the body, alcoholic drinks can sometimes cause people to snore while they sleep. In all of its forms, alcohol is a sedative, serving to relax your central nervous system and muscles. Though it would seem that having less tense muscles would be a welcome change, relaxed muscles can interfere with your breathing patterns and lead to snoring.  

Unclog Your Nasal Passages – Like all involuntary bodily actions, we tend to take unimpeded breathing through our nasal passages for granted. It’s only when they become blocked that we realize how important our nose is to our breathing patterns. A stuffy nose doesn’t just make your waking hours unbearable; with the nasal passages effectively blocked, air tends to travel faster through your throat and mouth, it’s only available pathway. This fast-paced breathing often causes the patient to snore.  

This problem has become so common that most drug stores sell over-the-counter nasal strips, which work to open up shut nostrils. These products have a respectable track record of success, and are available at cheap prices.

Replace/Clean Your Pillows Regularly – Before going any further, try and answer a quick question – when was the last time your replaced the pillows on your bed? For many people reading this article, the answer will be somewhere along the lines of “months,” “years” or “so long I don’t remember.” While it is easy to make this mistake, failing to regularly change and clean pillows gives dust mites an excellent opportunity to invade your body while you slumber.

Get Your Sleeping Schedule in Order – In recent decades, Americans have become less and less adept and getting a proper amount of nightly sleep. You don’t need a medical degree to know that inadequate amounts of sleep are detrimental to your health. What you probably didn’t realize is that a lack of shut-eye can contribute to a bad snoring habit. When tired people finally get around to sleeping, they tend to do so with a vengeance, quickly falling into a deep sleep. During this state, the throat muscles can become loose and floppy; those unlucky enough to be nearby might soon hear grating snoring coming from the sleep-deprived individual.

When in Doubt, Consult Your Doctor – Some chronic snorers suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts a person’s breathing patterns during sleep. People who suffer from this condition can experience noticeably loud snoring, choking/gasping during sleep and alarming pauses in breathing. What makes sleep apnea so particularly dangerous is its potential impact on your heath; sleep apnea has been linked to a greater risk of lethal heart attacks and strokes.

Sleep apnea can be treated through lifestyle adjustments, many of which have been detailed above (i.e. losing weight, avoiding sleeping on your back, etc). Quitting smoking has also been shown to help prevent sleep apnea. Some patients with this condition require the assistance of CPAP machines, which supply the user with a continuous supply of air via a breathing mask. In recent years, specialized mouth guards have emerged as an effective treatment, keeping the patient’s airways open and alleviating snoring. As with all serious medical conditions, it is highly advisable to consult with your doctor when considering treatment options.

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