The odds are pretty good that if your nose isn’t keeping someone up at night, someone else’s is ruining your sleep. In fact, 56% of people claim that their partner snores.1 A good night’s rest is so important, and snoring can disrupt the sleep patterns of those within earshot of the offending nose and impair the sleep quality of the snorer too.
According to WebMD1, there are a few common causes of snoring:
- Obstructed nasal airways: Allergies, sinus infections, head colds, and nasal polyps can obstruct nasal passages, as can deformities such as a deviated septum.
- Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Deep sleep, alcohol consumption, use of some sleeping pills, and normal aging can cause the throat and tongue muscles to become too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway.
- Bulky throat tissue: Children with large tonsils and adenoids as well as people who are overweight often snore.
- Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or uvula can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat, so when these structures vibrate and bump together the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.
While snoring is not usually very serious and is mostly a nuisance, according to WebMD habitual snorers can be at risk for health problems. That includes obstructive sleep apnea, a serious disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It’s always best to check with your doctor if you are concerned about sleep apnea – particularly if nothing you do seems to stop the snoring. Visit The Mayo Clinic for a list of sleep apnea symptoms.
So what can you and your loved ones do to get a better, quieter sleep? These simple lifestyle changes and natural solutions may help quiet the unwanted midnight serenade2:
- Change your sleep position. If you know (or have been told) that lying on your back is when you make the most noise, try lying on your side. Lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back of the wall of your throat, and the vibration is what’s making all that noise. Try putting a full body pillow behind you to keep you on your side.
- Lose weight. Thin people snore too, but if you suspect your problem could be weight related, try losing a few pounds.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol and sedatives relax the muscles in the back of your throat making you more apt to snore.
- Try to get enough sleep. Too many late nights and not enough sleep means when you finally do hit the hay, you’re so exhausted and sleep so deeply that the muscles relax too much, causing snoring. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Keep it clean. Allergens in your bedroom could be causing nasal passageways to narrow. Dust and vacuum regularly, wash your bedding in hot water at least once every other week, and either wash or replace your pillows every six months. It’s also a good idea to keep pets out of your bed since pet dander can also cause irritation.
- Drink it up. Staying hydrated throughout the day can keep the secretions in your nose and soft palate moist, which may reduce snoring.
There’s nothing quite like a good, restful sleep for your physical and mental health. If you’re plagued by the sound of snoring every night, try these simple suggestions; if they don’t work head off to your family doctor for additional help.
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