Approximately 45% of adults snore at least occasionally. So it’s likely that either you or your partner snore. Despite the jokes that it inspires (“Uncle Steve snores so loudly that the windows rattle!”), snoring is serious business. Today we are going to discuss the best ways to stop snoring naturally.
While most of us are familiar with the sounds associated with snoring. In order to treat it effectively we need a through understanding of why and how it’s happening. In effect, not all snoring is the same.
It’s going to be important to note that snoring can be a sign of a serious health condition called sleep apnea. While not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, it can be a symptom. If you or your partner stop breathing at night, please get medical attention immediately. Sleep apnea is a life threatening condition that requires medical intervention.
How to Stop Snoring Naturally: What is Snoring?
The term snoring refers to the sound that’s made by a restriction of the airflow due to excess or lax tissues in the airway.
The type of snoring a person has is determined by where the excess (or lax) tissue is located. Generally there are 4 types of snorers.
- Nasal snoring is when the snoring sound emanates from the nasal passages. This can be caused by having naturally narrow nostrils, nasal defects like a deviated septum or when the nasal tissues become inflames due to allergies or colds.
- Tongue snoring occurs when the tongue relaxes and falls to the back of the mouth blocking the airway. This can occur due to a person having a larger than normal tongue as well as lax tongue muscles that don’t hold the tongue in place.
- Mouth snoring happens when the muscles in the jaw relax and the jaw shifts backwards blocking the airway. Mouth snoring is usually positional in that it occurs most often when the person is sleeping on their back.
- Throat snoring occurs when excess tissue in and around the throat relaxes and falls into the airway disrupting the airflow. Throat snoring is common in people who are overweight.
- Multifactorial snoring is a term used anytime the snoring is due to two or more causes. Multifactorial snoring is very common and may require two separate types of treatment to control.
Why it’s Important to Treat Snoring
Snoring is more than just an annoying sound that you or your partner make at night. It can have some severe consequences physically, mentally and emotionally.
The main issue with snoring is that the airways become partially blocked which can cause oxygen levels in the blood to decrease. This triggers an automatic chain reaction within the body to bring the oxygen levels back up to homeostasis.
There are chemicals in the brain whose job is to trigger breathing, and these can fail in some people who snore. As a result, oxygen levels drop dramatically, causing cortisone, adrenaline and other hormones to surge.
When these hormones become elevated, it contributes to high blood pressure as well as irregularities of the heart that can cause or exacerbate heart failure, trigger heart attacks, even sudden death. Even people without sleep apnea can have reduced oxygen in their system that can damage the heart.
Additionally, the elevated blood pressure also puts you at risk for:
- Stroke. High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
- Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.
- Aneurysm. Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.
- Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.
- Metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference; high triglycerides; low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol; high blood pressure and high insulin levels. These conditions make you more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
- Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may also affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.
- Dementia. Narrowed or blocked arteries can limit blood flow to the brain, leading to a certain type of dementia (vascular dementia). A stroke that interrupts blood flow to the brain also can cause vascular dementia.
- Weight gain. There is ample evidence that sleep deprivation causes weight gain through both Metabolic Syndrome and the lowered will power associated with sleep disturbances.
- Source (Mayo Clinic)
How to Stop Snoring Naturally: The Psychological and Emotional Effects of Snoring
The effects of snoring can seem obvious, especially for the one doing the snoring. But snoring affects everyone in the bed. A snoring spouse often keeps the other person from getting a good night’s sleep. This results in two people being sleep deprived. Over time, this can 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.
Those who snore, or sleep with someone who does, crawl out of bed each morning feeling exhausted and irritable. Noisy sleepers become used to the frequent jab of an elbow and the desperate plea “stop snoring!” Sometimes both parties experience the horror of waking up to the snorting, gasping sounds of a sleep apnea sufferer who has stopped breathing during the night. Either way, because both bed partners wake up several times each night, their brains don’t receive the restorative benefits of normal, healthy sleep.
The Sleep-Deprived Brain
The physical effects of poor sleep–dark circles, puffy eyes, dull skin–are obvious. The psychological effects are less obvious but often times much more troubling.
Your brain needs sleep in order to function properly. During sleep, the brain continues work processing the events of the day, so a full night’s sleep is crucial to healthy memory function, decision making, and learning. Recent studies have shown that during sleep our brains clear out toxins that are associated with degenerative brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, sleep deprivation due to snoring contributes to:
- Cognitive impairment: Poor or disturbed sleep reduces the brain’s efficiency in both storing and retrieving information. This means that you are less able to recall old memories and you will have a harder time storing new ones. Additionally, problems with a decrease in creativity, increased difficulty with concentrating and increased risk taking behaviors are also associated with sleep deprivation.
- Anxiety: Lack of sleep can also affect your ability to deal with stress and this can lead to anxiety. For those who already have an anxiety disorder, sleep deprivation can make the issue even worse making them less able to cope with the problem.
- Depression: Those who snore or have sleep apnea are more likely to develop depression. The lack of oxygen, in addition to the interruption of sleep, can alter your brain’s functioning. Even those without sleep apnea experience increased fatigue which is often linked to depression.
- Irritability: A single bad night can affect someone’s mood the whole following day, and multiple nights of interrupted sleep can create a change in a person’s mood for an extended period of time.
- Loss of focus: It’s essential for both you and your partner to have a good night’s sleep in order to focus and concentrate on the normal day to day activities of life. Having your sleep interrupted by snoring, both you and your partner are less able to perform well the entire next day. Often times this is a bigger problem for the person who hears the snoring than for the one who snores.
- Increased frustration: When we are sleep deprived our tolerance to all external stimuli is heightened. Things that normally would only be a minor irritation can become magnified out of all proportion.
- Greater risk of accidents: Studies have shown that the risk of being in a car accident increases with every hour of lost sleep.
- Increased risk of sexual problems: Lower blood oxygen levels caused by snoring means less oxygen getting to all organs including the sexual organs. Men can develop erectile dysfunction and woman often suffer from diminished sexual satisfaction.
How to Stop Snoring Naturally: 15 Tips for a Restful Night
There are all kinds of “snoring cures” on the market today, including pills, sprays, oral appliances and even surgery. And while they all have their place, we always recommend that people try the least invasive and most “natural cures” first, moving up to the more invasive therapies only if necessary.
- Lose weight– This is the least popular and hardest tip to do on the list. It’s also one of the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate snoring. As stated earlier, snoring is caused by excess or lax tissue that blocks the airway. By losing weight, that excess tissue shrinks helping to reduce or eliminating snoring.
- Changing your sleep position – A lot of times snoring is positionally dependent. That is to say that most people snore when sleeping on their back. This position makes it easier for any excess tissue to fall back blocking the throat blocking the airway. Try sleeping on your side or stomach to combat this.
- Avoid alcohol before bed – Alcohol and some other drugs can cause the muscles in the neck and throat to relax too much. Muscles that would normally hold the excess tissue out of the airway can relax letting that tissue fall into the throat blocking the airway.
- Stop smoking – Again, one of the hardest and least popular ways to reduce snoring. Smoking causes inflammation in the throat, nose and sinus cavity. This inflammation restricts airflow and causes snoring.
- Get regular exercise – This not only will help with weight loss, but it will also increase muscle tone in the neck and throat which helps to hold any excess tissue in place.
- Drink more water – Staying hydrated is important for everyone, but it can be especially helpful for people who snore. When the membranes in the nose and throat dry out it thickens the mucus and creates congestion that cause snoring.
- Treat your cold or allergies – Both of these conditions can cause inflammation of the mucus membranes which can block the airways. Try a neti pot or decongestant to reduce this.
- Avoid heavy meals and mucus producing foods before bed – Heavy meals as well as some foods (dairy) can increase the production of mucus leading to snoring.
- Get a couple of humidifiers for your room– While dry air might not be the main cause of your snoring, it can certainly aggravate it. So get a couple of humidifiers to keep the air in your room nice and moist. The added moisture in the air will help lubricate your throat. Making it easier for air to flow in and out without causing any noisy vibrations.
- Elevate your head while you sleep– If sleeping on your side isn’t an option for you, try propping up your head a little bit. This will ease breathing and open up your airways. There are specially designed pillows you can buy. You can also try raising the head of your bed by a couple of inches.
- Use steam – Try using a facial steam bowl to open up your airways just before bed. This comes in especially handy if you suffer from a cold or allergies. First, fill a large bowl with hot water. Next, drop your head over it. Get close enough for the steam to do its job but not too close so you don’t get burned. Drape a towel over your head to lock in the moisture. Taking a warm bath or a hot shower also has the same effects.
- Try some tongue and throat exercises – Snoring occurs when your tongue and throat muscles are too relaxed. Strengthening them will help to prevent the snoring. There are a various exercises which can help to strengthen these muscles. A great and easy one is to just start singing. So throw yourself a concert in the shower or your car. Your partner or roommates might find it annoying but it’ll be less annoying than your snoring. To work out your tongue, place the tip of your tongue behind the top of your teeth and slide it back and forth for a couple of minutes a day.
- Try a M.A.D. – A MAD (Mandible Advancement Device) is an oral appliance that you wear at night. It looks similar to the mouth-guards that athletes use. The purpose of a MAD is to hold the lower jaw in a forward position so that it doesn’t fall to the back of the throat blocking the airway. For more information on these devices click here.
- Use a T.S.D. – A TSD is a tongue stabilization device. These are especially helpful when the snoring is due to a large tongue or one that falls to the back of the throat blocking the airway. These devices look a little funny, but they are highly effective for tongue snorers.
- Other non-invasive and natural remedies – When investigating how to stop snoring naturally, there are a host of other products that you can try. These range from nasal strips and dilators, to throat and nasal sprays. You can find a complete listing of these products as well as recommendations here.
How to Stop Snoring Naturally: Which One Works Best for You?
We have given you a lot of suggestions and options for how to stop snoring naturally. So, how do you know which one is right for you?
The answer to that question is that most people need to keep trying these various solutions until they find one that works for them. Keep in mind that it’s very possible that you or your partner is a multi-factorial snorer which means that you may need to utilize more than of the suggestions above.
If that’s the case, work with your partner to figure out the best combination of suggestions and products to use. For example, if your partner notices a decrease in snoring when you wear a MAD, yet you still snore. You can try raising the head of the bed to see if that helps. If not try adding nasal strips or tongue exercises. Through trial and error, most people can greatly reduce or even eliminate snoring altogether.
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