Snoring may be a joking matter among family and friends (“Oh, he snores so loudly that it feels like I’m sleeping with a train!”) but it’s actually serious business. For one thing, it can cause real problems in a partnership or marriage because the snoring partner may find himself kicked out of bed, literally. For another thing, it can be a sign of an underlying medical disorder, such as sleep apnea, which should be treated immediately; obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of heart disease.
Lest you start taking over-the-counter medications and herbal treatments touted to decrease snoring, you shouldn’t do so without seeking your doctor’s professional advice. Not only are these treatments possibly dangerous for your health, such as in case of drug interactions, but these may even worsen your condition. Instead, you may want to try these natural – and safe – tricks to reduce the frequency, severity and duration of your snoring.
Change Your Sleeping Position
If you sleep on your back or stomach, you should consider sleeping on your side instead. When you lie on your back, the base of your soft palate and tongue collapses to your throat’s back wall. This causes a vibrating sound while you’re sleeping and, thus, the annoying snores.
There are three ways that you can maintain a side position if you’re still getting used to it:
- Use a full-length pillow or a body pillow that will support your upper and lower back. A C-shaped or J-shaped maternity pillow will also do the trick.
- Recline your bed so that your head is up and extended. Doing so will open up your nasal airway passages so you may have less snoring episodes.
- Tape two or more tennis balls to the back of your pajama top so you will awaken when you roll to your back. You can then revert to a side position afterwards.
Change your side position, too – from left side to right side – as much as possible since you don’t want to wake up with sore muscles. Be sure to sleep on a medium-firm Beautyrest mattress, too, which will provide the appropriate support to maintain your back’s neutral alignment.
Change Your Beddings and Pillows
Allergens in your mattress, beddings and pillows in particular and your bedroom in general may worsen snoring. Dust motes, dust mites, and pet dander and hair on your bed can cause allergic reactions that, in turn, can trigger snoring.
For this reason, you should vacuum your mattress on a regular basis, at least twice a month. You must also change your beddings on a weekly basis, everything from the sheets and blankets to the pillowcases. You should also put your pillows on the washing machine’s air fluff cycle every two weeks and then replace them every six months.
Don’t let pets inside your bedroom, much less let them sleep on your bed with you! This may seem like an adorable behavior but it isn’t when you’re suffering from allergic reactions and increased snoring.
Open Up Your Nasal Passages
Think of your nasal passages as a water hose. The narrower the diameter of the hose, the faster the water will rush through its passage and the louder the sound it makes. This is akin to your blocked nasal passages – the narrower these are, the louder your snores can be.
The common cold and allergic rhinitis are just a few of the conditions that can cause blockage in the nasal passages. You should then take appropriate measures to lessen their symptoms like:
- Taking a hot shower before bed
- Rinsing your nose with a saltwater rinse while you’re showering (i.e., use a neti pot, if necessary)
- Using nasal strips (i.e., but only if your snoring problem appears to come from your nose, not from within your soft palate)
While inhaling vapors may seem like a good idea to open up nasal passages, you may want to reconsider it because the chemicals in these vapors can worsen the blockage although temporary relief may be found.
Change Your Lifestyle Habits
If you are overweight, you may likely snore although we must also emphasize that even thin people can snore, too. You should consider losing weight through a combination of a healthy diet, moderate exercise program, and sensible lifestyle habits.
Alcohol and sedatives should also be lessened in use, if not avoided, because of their adverse effects on your respiratory system. Basically, these substances decrease the resting tone of the throat’s muscles and, thus, increasing the chances for snoring. Don’t drink alcohol and/or take sedatives at least 5 hours before your bedtime for this reason.
Drink plenty of water and other fluids, too. By staying well-hydrated, you’re lessening the sticky quality of the secretions in your soft palate and nose so there’s less risk of snoring at night.
When none of these lifestyle habits seem to decrease your snoring, you must consult with your doctor since there may be an underlying medical condition involved. You may require special devices, such as a CPAP machine, to manage your condition, if there is any.