Back to Basics – Simple Techniques to Reduce Snoring
Snoring is often treated as something to be embarrassed about, but it can have a serious effect on the snorer and those around them. 75 per cent of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), a sleep disorder where part of your throat relaxes during sleep. This partially closes the airway, causing you to momentarily stop breathing. People with OSA generally require clinical treatment, which may include using oral devices.
However, many people who snore do not suffer from OSA. These individuals can prevent their snoring with simple techniques and lifestyle changes. If you or someone you know snores, consider whether any of the following solutions might help before seeking further medical advice.
Change Your Sleep Position
People who lie on their back are more likely to snore as the tongue and soft palate tend to collapse to the back wall of your throat when sleeping in this position. This can cause a vibrating sound during sleep, which may be preventable if you sleep on your side.
Some people use home remedies to encourage sleeping on their side, such as taping a tennis ball to the back of their clothing. Another way is to recline the bed with the head up and extended; this can be achieved by putting a few books underneath the head side of the bed. However, this may cause discomfort or neck pain, particularly for deep sleepers.
Avoid Smoking, Alcohol and Food before Bed
Alcohol and sedatives such as sleeping pills and antihistamines relax the back of your throat, increasing the likelihood that you’ll snore in your sleep. People who don’t normally snore often do so after drinking alcohol, while people who are prone to snoring may snore even louder. Reduce your alcohol consumption four to five hours before sleeping to help relieve your snoring.
Consuming heavy foods, such as those with a high level of carbohydrates, right before bed can also worsen snoring and should be avoided after around 5 pm. Smoking causes nasal congestion and inflammation, also leading to a worsening of snoring. Consider quitting smoking to help reduce your snoring and improve your overall health.
Avoid Poor Sleep Habits
Working long hours without enough sleep or having irregular sleep patterns can cause snoring. Because you are often overtired, you are more likely to sleep deeply, which causes your muscles to become more relaxed. This has a similar effect to snoring after alcohol consumption.
Nasal congestion and inflammation caused by allergies are another common cause of snoring. Being tested for allergies can help to identify and reduce potential allergens in your sleeping environment that may have lodged themselves in your pillow or other bedding.
Some examples include dust mites, pet hair, dairy or wheat intolerance and certain types of bedding. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be allergic to these materials. A prolonged build-up of irritants can affect anyone, so ensure you dust your room and wash your bedding regularly; replace pillows every six months and keep pets out of the bedroom.
Losing weight can help some people to stop snoring but it will not help everyone. If you didn’t previously snore but found you did so after gaining some weight, losing the weight may help. Weight around the neck constricts the internal diameter of the throat during sleep, making you more likely to snore.
Not drinking enough water throughout the day can also cause or worsen snoring. Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated, worsening the vibrating sound. Aim to consume around 1.9 litres of water a day (Keep in mind that all fluids including in food count towards this daily intake).
If you’ve tried all these natural techniques and remedies to no avail, you may have OSA or another sleep-related condition. Luckily, a sleep disorder specialist can help to prevent your snoring by diagnosing the cause and providing the appropriate treatment.