Good news: if you snore, you are not alone. Many people snore after a night of heavy drinking or when they sleep with a stuffy nose. However, if you are snoring regularly and it is disrupting your or your partner’s sleep, then it is something to be worried about. In fact, it can be an indication of a serious health issue that needs immediate medical attention.
The most obvious way to find out whether or not you snore is asking your partner or anyone who shares the bedroom with you. Ask them to record your snores and identify its pattern (like gasping) and volume. This will give you some really helpful information that you can later share with your physician while getting diagnosed.
In case you live alone and wonder if you snore or not, here are a few ways in which you can find out:
Though studies say that men snore more than women, there is not much difference in the number. 4 out of 10 men snore as compared to 3 out of 10 women. The main reason for this can be the narrower air channels in males that make it difficult for oxygen to flow thus making the snoring noise. But other than that, what causes snoring? Here are the most common reasons for snoring:
When you gain weight you naturally accumulate more fat around the neck area too. The extra fat narrows the air passage thus hindering airflow. This in turn causes the loud noise that we call snoring.
Weight gain during pregnancy is common and so is snoring. Also, when you are pregnant your blood vessels (around the nasal cavity) expand, blocking the airway and thus causing the snoring.
When you are tired the muscle tissues get more relaxed. This again causes a hindrance in air flow and results in snoring.
With menopause, several hormonal changes occur in the female body. The ovaries reduce the production of estrogen and progesterone that leads to insomnia, mood swings and snoring.
Your genes have also got a role to play when it comes to snores. Genetic factors like expanded throat tissue, enlarged tonsillitis and a long uvula can cause snoring in some women.
Breathing through the mouth is another habit what causes snoring. A cold, flu or allergy of any kind that prevents you from breathing through your nose may also be making you snore.
Alcohol, nicotine and certain medicines can make your throat and tongue muscles relax, disrupt airflow and make you snore.
Now that you knwo what causes snoring, let's find out how to stop snoring? There are plenty of proven techniques that can help you stop snoring without spending big bucks. Depending on why you snore, here are a few natural ways to stop snoring:
Sleeping on your back can aggravate your snoring problem. This is because when you are sleeping on your back, your tongue is in a relaxed state and this may block the airway. One of the easiest ways to stop snoring is by switch to sleeping on your side. When you are sleeping, your neck and spine should be aligned so that the air flow is not obstructed. Try a body pillow if you want to keep yourself in the side sleeping position. Another natural remedy for snoring is raising the head of the bed a few inches to encourage better air flow through the nasal cavity.
Conditions like a stuffy and congested nose restrict the flow of air and worsens snoring. Use nasal strips or a steamer before bed to clear the nasal passage and allow better movement of air.
Dry air irritates nasal membranes and causes them to swell. This obstructs airflow and you snore. Use a humidifier in your bedroom that keeps the air moist and prevents it from drying the nasal membranes.
Sleeping pills and sedatives relax the throat muscles and interfere with your breathing as you sleep. Make sure that before you start taking a sleeping pill, you have discussed your snoring problem with your doctor.
Dirty pillows are a breeding ground for dust mites that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals and lead to snoring. Ideally, you should change the pillow covers every couple of days and replace the pillows every six months.
You can also find snoring solutions by making a few changes in your everyday life. Here are a few ways to stop snoring:
1. Avoid Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant that relaxes muscles in the throat and interferes with breathing. Don’t consume alcohol at least 4 hours before sleeping to avoid snoring.
2. Quit Smoking: Excessive smoking dries out nasal membranes by causing tissue inflammation that in turn restricts airflow. By quitting smoking you reduce the inflammation and thus the problem of snoring.
3. Watch What You Eat: Avoid eating heavy meals right before bed as it can hamper your sleep and thus worsen the problem of snoring. Make sure you eat your dinner at least two hours before hitting the sack. Switch to healthier meal options. Remember, the more fatty tissue around the throat, the more the snoring.
4. Get Active: Not only does exercising help you lose weight (and thus cures snoring), it also tones your muscles (including the throat). This in turn improves air flow and reduces snoring.
5. Stay Hydrated: Dehydration increases secretion in your nose and soft palate thus blocking the nasal passage and aggravating snoring.
These exercises for snoring will strengthen the muscles of your respiratory tract and reduce the problem considerably:
Apart from exercises for snoring, you can try these yoga asanas and pranayamas:
Lie on your stomach with your hands on your sides and your toes touching each other. Move hands to the front at shoulder level. Put your body’s weight on your palms, inhale and raise your head and upper half of your body. Make sure your arms are bent at your elbows. Move your neck backwards while keeping your shoulders firm. Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds. Slowly bring your hands down and rest your head on the ground.
Lie on your stomach with your hands on the side and your feet apart. Fold your knees and hold your ankles with your palm. Look straight and concentrate on your breathing. Hold the position for 15-20 seconds. Exhale and relax.
Another effective yoga for snoring is the bhramari pranayam. Sit straight and press your ear with your thumbs. Your index finger should be on your forehead and the remaining fingers on your eyes. Inhale first and then exhale making a humming sound like a bee. Do this 10-20 times.
Sit in a relaxed position and focus on your breathing. Lift your right hand and place your forefinger and middle finger at the centre of your eyebrow. Close your right nostril with your thumb. Breathe through the left nostril twenty times. Repeat the same with the left nostril closed.
If these natural remedies for snoring don’t help, take professional help. Medical intervention can help a great deal in solving your snoring problem.
This is one of the most effective treatments if your snoring is caused by sleep apnea (a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops). A CPAP machine is connected to a mask that the patient wears on their face through a tube. The device delivers the right amount of air pressure that is needed to keep the airways open and prevent snoring.
This process uses laser to reduce the uvula (the tissue at the back of the throat) and make small cuts in the soft palate. As the cuts heal, the tissues become stiff to prevent vibrations that cause snoring.
Small plastic implants are fitted into the soft palate that prevents collapse of the soft palate that causes snoring.
This procedure uses radiofrequency heat to remove tissues of the uvula and the soft palate that vibrate when snoring.
Apart from these, certain surgical methods like Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty, Tonsillectomy, and Adenoidectomy treat snoring by either surgically removing tissues or structural corrections.
For their convenience, effectiveness and easy availability, these anti-snoring products are in huge demand in the market. However, we recommend consulting your doctor before buying one.
If a dust allergy is making you snore, install an air purifier in your room with a HEPA filter. A HEPA filter can effectively capture even microscopic particles and allergens in your room.
Nasal vents are small devices that look like earplugs. They can fit inside your nose and prevent the blocking of nasal passage while you sleep, thus preventing snoring.
These nasal strips flatten the nose and thus open up your nostrils, encouraging better airflow.
Anti-snoring pillows are made up of hypoallergenic materials and are shaped in a way that your head and shoulders are aligned to keep the airways open as you sleep.
These mouthpieces are specially designed by a dentist to keep the tongue and the lower jaw in a forward position while you sleep to allow better airflow.
Some common questions about snoring and their answers, solved:
Q. Does snoring affect relationships?
A. According to a study around 20 million people in the world are sleep deprived because of their partner’s snoring problem and many even sleep in separate bedroom to get some shut-eye. This wreaks havoc in the marriage and sex life.
Q. What to do if your partner snores a lot?
A. Communication is the key. Talk to them about their snoring problem. Chances are that they have no idea that they snore. You partner may respond by being defensive but talk to them with concern and understanding rather than anger and explain to them what it may mean for you and their health. Help them understand what causes snoring by understanding their sleep patterns. If needed, visit a doctor together to find out snoring solution.
Q. How snoring is different from sleep apnea?
A. Snoring happens when the tissues of your neck relax while you sleep, narrowing the airway and thus producing a sound that we call snoring. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops. Not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea. However, snoring can be an underlying cause of sleep apnea.
Q. When to see a doctor?
A. It is time to see a doctor if snoring is accompanied by any of these: breathing pauses during sleep, high blood pressure, chest pain at night, choking or gasping while sleeping, or if your snoring is disturbing your partner’s sleep.
Besides being annoying for your partner, snoring may also be indicative of a serious health concern. Therefore, it is suggested to see a doctor and get it diagnosed as early as possible to ensure a good night's sleep for you as well as your partner.
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