If your sleeping partner complains about your snoring, rest assured that you are in good company. According to Statistics Canada, as many as 33% of men and 25% of women snore on a regular basis.
When you enter a state of deep sleep, your entire body relaxes. This includes the muscles of the soft palate (the roof of your mouth), throat and tongue. When these muscles relax, they can partially block the airways and vibrate as you breathe in, leading to the characteristic snoring sound that keeps your partner awake.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can try to stop or reduce your snoring. Read on for our top eight anti-snoring tips:
1. Lose weight
Overweight people tend to snore more often because they have excess soft tissue around their throat. As their muscles relax, these fatty deposits weigh down and press against their airways. If your snoring started after you gained a few pounds, getting back to your normal weight could help you quit snoring.
2. Sleep on your side
Sleeping on your back increases the likelihood of airway collapse, since your tongue and soft palate have nowhere to go but to the back of your throat. This partially blocks the flow of air and obstructs your breathing. Using a body pillow allows you to comfortably sleep on your side, preventing your airways from collapsing backwards. Changing your sleep position can take some getting used to, so take your time with this.
If you absolutely cannot get used to sleeping on your side, some special anti-snoring pillows that alter head positioning can improve the flow of air and reduce snoring. If you are able to raise the head of your bed, try setting it at a 30 degree angle to improve breathing patterns.
3. Avoid alcohol before bedtime
Alcohol is one of the worst snoring triggers. Even people who don’t normally snore will do so after drinking because the relaxing effects of alcohol decrease muscle tone. As you have learned, excessive relaxing of the throat and soft palate muscles leads to snoring.
Stop drinking alcohol several hours before bedtime, and allow your liver up to one hour to process each drink. Instead of your usual “nightcap”, have some chamomile or peppermint tea to help you sleep.
4. Try over-the-counter nasal strips
These adhesive bandages are designed to reduce snoring by keeping your nostrils open while you sleep. Since snoring can be caused by nasal congestion, a deviated septum or small nostrils, nasal strips can help increase the air flow through your nose and solve your snoring problem.
5. Relieve your allergies
If your snoring occurs with symptoms such as a stuffed nose, frequent sneezing and difficulty breathing, you could be among the thousands of Canadians suffering from respiratory allergies. Approximately 70% of respiratory allergies are caused by tiny creatures known as dust mites, and the symptoms are not always readily apparent. Using an antihistamine or investing in an anti-dust mite bed cover could help reduce snoring related to allergic rhinitis. Keep pets out of your bedroom and vacuum the area every day to reduce other potential allergens.
6. Quit smoking
Here is another good reason to stop smoking: it greatly increases your risk of snoring. By irritating the delicate tissues in your throat, smoking causes thick mucus buildup and swelling, which both work together to reduce air flow. Cut down on cigarettes or enroll in a smoking cessation program to help improve your snoring.
7. Avoid caffeine after dinner
Caffeine has a stimulating effect on your breathing and heart rate, which can lead to an increased chance of snoring. Cut down on your caffeine consumption and avoid it after dinner. You will benefit from a more restful sleep and lower your risk of sleep-disordered snoring.
8. Stop eating before bedtime
While a light snack can have beneficial effects on sleep, large meals do just the opposite. When you consume a lot of food late in the evening, your body doesn’t have time to properly digest it before you go to bed. Combined with a horizontal sleeping position, this can put pressure on your diaphragm and disrupt your breathing pattern, leading to snoring. Try having dinner earlier and treating yourself to a light snack a few hours before bed.
These eight easy-to-follow tips can effectively help you conquer your snoring. As you can see, many of them revolve around lifestyle changes. To increase your chance of success, give yourself some time to adapt and don’t try to make too many changes at once.
Happy snore-free sleeping!