Snoring, that loud, hoarse breathing during sleep, is a nuisance, whether it affects you personally or the person you share a bed with. And that’s a lot of people, since 37 million people are consistent snorers, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Snoring occurs when a person’s airways have narrowed, causing the air that passes through it as we breathe to vibrate the soft tissue of the throat, in principle, snoring is not normal. During sleep apnea, snorers actually stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night. It’s important to receive an accurate diagnosis because of sleep apnea’s many implications in other health conditions.
According to the National Institutes of Health, this disorder may contribute to high blood pressure and even stroke. Anyone who snores on a regular basis should be medically evaluated to rule out this condition. If sleep apnea is not involved in your snoring, then there are lots of techniques to try that may help reduce or even eliminate snoring. This phenomenon is much more common in men than in women, and usually increases with age.
Here are some simple suggestions that may help to reduce snoring:
- Lose weight if you’re overweight. Excess weight can contribute to a host of health problems, but it also narrows the airway, increasing the likelihood that those tissues will rub together.
- Don’t smoke. Besides contributing to other respiratory problems, smoking also leads to nasal and lung congestion, which can result in snoring. Take steps to quit today.
- Avoid secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is just as harmful, and causes snoring in the same ways actual smoking does. Encourage your loved ones to quit, and avoid smoky restaurants and bars.
- Limit or avoid alcohol and other sedatives at bedtime. These substances relax the airway, leading to snoring. Limit yourself to less than one drink daily for women, or less than two drinks daily for men, and consume your last drink at least four hours before bedtime.
- Improve your fitness level. When you have poor muscle tone, you’re more likely to snore. Exercising tones and strengthens muscles all over the body, while also regulating your sleeping patterns. Aim for at least three cardio sessions and two strength training sessions each week.
- Avoid sleeping flat on your back. Back-sleepers are more prone to snoring since this position allows the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. If you are a habitual back-sleeper, try this method to retrain yourself: Stuff a tennis ball into a sock, and safety-pin the sock to the back of your pajamas. Each time you roll to your back during the night, you’ll feel uncomfortable and turn back to your side
In most cases, snoring isn’t caused by one single factor, but a combination of many. If these suggestions don’t work, see you doctor for more ideas. There are lots of products and procedures designed to reduce snoring, from removable plastic nasal dilators to nasal surgery. If you or your loved ones are suffering from snoring, a good night’s sleep may be just a doctor’s visit away.