Snoring is a problem that affects a large number of adults; about 45% of people snore at least occasionally, and 1 in 5 American adults are habitual snorers. It’s no laughing matter, either: snoring can cause a rift in the strongest of relationships because it robs the spouse of rest, and can lead to a variety of problems ranging from resentment to separate bedrooms. Not only that, but snoring may be hazardous to your health; it is often the sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breath during sleep. This prevents the sufferer from getting restorative sleep and causes daytime drowsiness, irritability, confusion, and loss of memory. It increases the risk of automobile accidents and can lead to serious medical complications including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.
There are a number of treatment options for snorers, many of them natural remedies or simple lifestyle changes. These include:
- Change your sleep position. Snoring occurs when the tongue and throat tissue sag down during sleep, blocking the airway. Sleeping on your back worsens this, so try sleeping on your side instead. If you have a tendency to roll over onto your back, try taping a tennis ball to the back of your pajamas to prevent this. Using a body pillow can also help you remain on your side. Try elevating the head of the bed a few inches, or prop yourself up using pillows.
- Lose weight. A majority of those who snore are overweight. Excess weight around the neck can narrow your airway and make you more prone to snoring. Losing 10% of your overall weight can make a big difference.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol acts as a muscle relaxer, reducing muscle tone in the back of your throat and making snoring more likely. You should restrict alcohol intake 4-5 hours before going to sleep.
- Quit smoking. Tobacco smoke irritates the membranes of the nose and throat, leading to blocked airways and an increased risk of snoring.
- Maintain a regular sleep routine. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. An odd schedule can result in too little sleep, and that leads to excessive tiredness. You sleep hard, and the muscles become more relaxed, leading to snoring.
- Keep your nasal passages open. A stuffy nose can prevent air from moving freely, causing snoring. Try taking a hot shower before bed, or rinsing your nose with a saline solution or neti pot. Nasal strips may help keep your nasal passages open.
- Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to moisten your throat and palate.
- Use a humidifier at night. This will help prevent dry air from irritating the membranes in your nose and throat.
- Play the didgeridoo. Learning to play this Australian wind instrument can strengthen the soft palate and throat, reducing the odds that you’ll snore.