Adapted from Helpguide.org, Snoring, by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., April 2013
Just about everyone snores occasionally, but if it happens frequently, it can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep, not to mention that of your family or roommates.
Common causes of snoring are:
Age - As you get older, the throat becomes narrower and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
The Way You’re Built - Men have narrower passages than women. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids and other attributes contribute.
Nasal and Sinus Problems - Blocked airways make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat.
Being Overweight or Out of Shape - Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring.
Alcohol, Smoking & Medications - These can increase muscle relaxation.
Sleep Posture - Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.
Snoring could indicate sleep apnea, a condition that requires medical attention. If you are suffering from extreme fatigue and sleepiness, you should speak with your doctor.
The first step to solving a snoring problem is to find the cause of your snoring. Enlist a partner to observe you and help you keep a diary of your snoring. Observing your sleep patterns is helpful.
How you snore reveals why you snore.
-Closed mouth snoring may indicate a problem with your tongue.
-Open mouth snoring may be related to the tissues in your throat.
-Snoring when sleeping on your back is probably mild snoring.
-Snoring in all sleep positions can mean your snoring is more severe and may require a more comprehensive treatment.
Here are some lifestyle changes can help you stop snoring:
-Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat.
-Exercise can lead to toning the muscles in your throat when you are working abdominal muscles for example.
-Quitting smoking will help reduce the irritated membranes in the nose and throat.
-Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives especially before bedtime, because they will relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing.
-Establishing regular sleep patterns can help you sleep better, often minimizing snoring.
-Clear nasal passages with a neti-pot, nasal decongestant or nasal strips.
-Keep the bedroom air moist with a humidifier.
-Reposition your head 4” higher to encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward and ease breathing.
-Avoid caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of bed.
-Sleep on your side to keep your tongue and soft tissues from obstructing your airway.
Of course there are medically treated options for snoring as well:
-CPAP machine blows pressurized air into a mask that you wear over your nose or face.
-Dental appliances, oral devices, lower jaw-positioners resemble a mouthguard and bring the lower jaw & tongue forward.
-Surgery to increase the size of your airway.