Welcome to my blog “Things that help with snoring”. As a snorer myself, I can sympathise with the partners out there who are driven to despair by their other half’s snoring. I hope this blog post will come to their aid and to the aid of the snorer. Some of what I write is personal experience so I really hope it helps. Thank You!
Why do we snore?
Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which causes the familiar snoring sound.
There are mainly 5 different types of snorer, for example-
- Palatal flutterer (most common type)
During sleep, the muscles of the throat and mouth relax, which narrows the trachea (windpipe) that carries air from the lungs, and that diminishes the airflow when you breathe. Within the narrowed airway, the the tissues of the soft palate and uvulva shake and vibrate, causing the noise of snoring
- Nasal snorer
Blocked nasal passages or collapsing nostrils that lead to mouth breathing
- Mouth breather
An open mouth and relaxed jaw
- Tongue snorer
The tongue drops to the back of the mouth and obstructs the airway, can be very dangerous!
- Multifactorial snorer
A combination of some or all of the above
What causes us to snore?
As we reach middle age and over, our throats become narrower and our muscle tone in the throat decrease, the resulting tissues shake and vibrate creating the snore noise
- Being overweight
As fatty tissue and decreased muscle tone contribute to snoring, carrying extra weight around your neck and throat can increase your chances of snoring, even if your not overweight in general.
Men have narrower passages than women in general so are more likely to snore
A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes are often hereditary
- Nasal & sinus problems
Blocked airways or stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and can create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring.
- Alcohol, smoking & medication
These all create relaxation of the throat muscles, which in turn leads to more snoring
- Sleep posture
Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh in your throat to relax and block your airway, making you snore. Changing to side sleeping often helps.
Is snoring dangerous?
Snoring could be a sign of Sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder where your breathing is interrupted many times each night. Go see your health carer or doctor if you or your partner have noticed any of these red flags-
- Loud snoring
- Gasping, choking or stop breathing momentarily during sleep
- Tired during the day
- Fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during conversations or meals
What are the health risks of snoring?
Apart from the serious issues of Sleep apnea & obstructing the airway with the tongue, snoring is more than just a nuisance. It disrupts healthy, restorative sleep and is linked to increased risks for other health problems. According to scientific research, people who snore also face increased risk from-
- Heart disease & stroke
- Accidental injury
- Depression & anxiety
- Diminished sexual satisfaction
How can I avoid snoring?
There are many anti-snoring devices available on the market today, so finding the right solution can be quite daunting. Before you go and purchase one of these devices I would suggest you try some free ideas first and see if you can conquer your snoring demons. Here’s a few tricks to try first-
- Change your sleeping position
If the snoring is worse when your on your back (usually it is) then try sleeping on your side. If you roll over onto your back all the time, try sewing a sock with a tennis ball inside, into the back of your pyjama top, the discomfort will of the ball will cause you to turn back onto your side
- Lose weight
OK, this may take a while. But it’s a scientific fact that the more weight you put on, the more you are prone to snoring. All to do with the fatty tissues increasing in your throat.
- Clear nasal passages
If you suffer from stuffy noses, rinse your sinuses with saline before bed. Use nasal decongestant, or nasal strips so you breathe more easily during sleep. If you have allergies that cause your stuffy nose, reduce dust mites and dead skin by vacuuming your bed, or use an allergy medication
- Keep bedroom air moist
Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help
- Avoid alcohol, smoking & medication
These all relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. If you are taking sleeping pills or other medication, check with your doctor, health carer as some encourage deep sleep which can aid snoring.
- Be careful what you eat before bed
Eating large meals or certain meals like dairy before bed can make snoring worse
Aids or devices to stop snoring
So you’ve tried the free easy ways to stop snoring and your still snoring away merrily during your sleep? Ok, it’s time to bring in the heavies. There are several products you can try. I’m afraid it might well be a “trial & error” scenario but here goes-
- Use a mouth guard
Mouth guards work by gently moving the lower jaw forward and holding the tongue down, which helps to keep the airway open during sleep. If you are buying a mouth guard over the counter, select one that uses a bite mold to create a shape that fits your mouth, and is movable and able to adjust your lower jaw, as well as hold down your tongue.
- Try a body pillow
A body pillow will make you position yourself on your side rather than your back, which will be beneficial to reduce your snoring
- Try Nasal strips
If you are a nasal snorer, try nasal strips. They work by opening up the nasal valve, by using a spring like flexible strip that mechanically keeps it open.
- Try a chin strap
These are a good idea if you don’t like the way a mouth guard fits into your mouth.I haven’t tried one myself, but it’s apparently very effective. It works by keeping your mouth closed, so you breath through your nose instead. Obviously, not for the nasal snorer.
- Try a CPAP machine
If your snoring is really bad, you may have sleep apnea. Or even as a last resort, you may try a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. These work by keeping your airway open using a mask under continual pressure. I have written a post about the best CPAP machines here
What stops snoring if these fail?
If you have tried these devices and the “how to avoid snoring” tricks & tips but you are still snoring, it may ultimately lead to surgical procedure such as-
- Laser assisted uvulopalatplasty (LAUP)
This uses a laser to shorten the uvula (the hanging soft tissue at the back of the throat) and also makes small cuts to the palate on either side.
- Palatal Implants
Involves inserting small plastic implants into the soft palate which helps prevent collapse of the soft palate that causes snoring
Uses radiofrequency heat to remove tissues of the uvula and soft palate that vibrate during snoring. Performed under local anesthesia and takes around 30 minutes
- Custom fitted dental devices
These help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw forward during sleep. For best results, you would need to see your dentist who specializes in these devices
- Surgical procedures
Such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), Tonsillectomy and Andenoidectomy, increase the size of your airway by surgically removing tissues or correcting abnormalities