For one, a snoring spouse often keeps the other person from a good night’s sleep, which can eventually lead to separate bedrooms. “Snoring can create real problems in a marriage,” says Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas.
Not only is snoring a nuisance, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which increases the risk of developing heart disease, Slaughter says.
Use caution before you self-treat with over-the-counter sprays and pills until you’ve checked with your doctor, says Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, program director for Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J. “Many stop-snoring aids are marketed without scientific studies to support their claims,” says Chokroverty, who is also a neuroscience professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences.
Instead, try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, which may help you stop snoring.
1. Change Your Sleep Position.
Lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side may help prevent this.
2. Lose Weight.
Weight loss helps some people but not everyone. “Thin people snore, too,” Slaughter says.
3. Avoid Alcohol.
Alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. “Drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping makes snoring worse,” Chokroverty says. “People who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.”
4. Open Nasal Passages.
If snoring starts in your nose, keeping nasal passages open may help. It allows air to move through slower, Slaughter says. “Imagine a narrow garden hose with water running through. The narrower the hose, the faster the water rushes through.”
5. Change Your Pillows.
Allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow may contribute to snoring. When did you last dust the overhead ceiling fan? Replace your pillows?
6. Stay Well Hydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids. “Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated,” Slaughter says. “This can create more snoring.” According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy women should have about 11 cups of total water (from all drinks and food) a day; men require about 16 cups.
Overall, get enough sleep, sleep on your side, avoid alcohol before bedtime and take a hot shower if nasal passages are clogged, Slaughter says. “These simple practices can make a huge difference in reducing snoring.”
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