How exactly can you reduce snoring? And are there any all-natural, self-help solutions?
Do you regularly wake up your partner with your snoring? Or maybe it’s your partner keeping you up at night?
Either way, if snoring is disturbing your sleep, it’s time to do something about it.
But how exactly can you stop snoring? And are there any all-natural, self-help solutions? Let’s explore.
What causes snoring?
Here’s a crash course in the science of snoring.
During normal breathing, air is drawn through the nose and passes over the soft tissues at the back of the throat. These tissues include the uvula, soft palate and the tongue. When air cannot move freely through the throat, these tissues vibrate, producing a sound called snoring.
During waking hours, the airways are held open by the tone of the muscles around them. Yet during sleep, these muscles relax. In some individuals, the soft tissues may relax too much, causing them to collapse and obstruct the airway.
To overcome this obstruction, snorers breathe harder, using their chest wall muscles and diaphragm. However, the harder one tries to breathe, the more the walls of the airways collapse. The ultimate result of this process is of course snoring.
Rule out serious conditions
If you want to take action to address your snoring, your first step is to rule out more serious, coexisting conditions, which may require different or additional treatments.
For example, snoring can in some cases be a sign of a sleep apnea, which is associated with cardiovascular risks, neurovascular risks, risk of work and motor vehicle accidents and mortality. For this reason, it is recommended to speak with a licensed medical or dental practitioner about whether you have sleep apnea and what treatment options are appropriate for your specific situation.
Natural, self-help snoring solutions
If there are no coexisting conditions, you can begin to explore the myriad natural, self-help snoring solutions available. Here are some research-based strategies to get you started.
1. Sleep position.
While some people will snore in any position, for others sleeping on one’s side can help. If you find it difficult to stay on your side, a range of strategies have been shown to keep you on your side. One example is simply taping a tennis ball to your back, or placing a tennis ball in the breast pocket of a t-shirt worn back to front, which causes you wake up when you roll over onto your back. There are also pillows designed to prevent you from sleeping on your back. For some people, these techniques may even result in you sleeping on your side naturally after a while.
2. Weight loss
It’s hardly news to suggest that losing weight is good for your health, particularly given the well-documented link between obesity and heart disease. But given the impact of increased weight on snoring, losing weight through regular exercise and a healthy, balanced diet can also result in a better night’s sleep.
3. Manage your allergies
It may not be possible to simply switch off your allergies. But if they’re blocking your nasal passages and affecting your snoring, it’s important to consult your doctor to discuss whether there are any natural remedies that may assist in managing your allergies. Even having a humidifier in your bedroom can improve the air quality and improve snoring.
4. Stop smoking and drinking
If you smoke or drink regularly, reducing your intake or stopping all together can have a significant positive impact on your snoring. If you find this difficult, speak with your doctor about the various programs available to assist you.
Medical devices and treatments
If natural, self-help strategies aren’t enough, it’s worth exploring the range of medical devices and treatments available to help manage snoring.
These treatments include:
CPAP machines (which use a hose and mask to deliver steady air pressure) prescribed by sleep specialists;
Custom oral appliances, often termed Mandibular Advancement Devices (dentist-made devices that aim to bring the lower jaw forward)
Non-custom oral appliances (mouthguards that operate according to similar mandibular advancement principles but don’t require fitting and are often much less expensive).
If you have seen a licensed medical practitioner to assess your situation, that’s your first step. Then, consider some of the many natural, self-help solutions. If they’re not enough, try some of the numerous medical treatments available. Or if you'd like to learn more, read our Ultimate Research-Backed Guide to Treating Snoring
In the meantime, have a quiet, restful night’s sleep!