an image of a man snoring in a bed with a woman

Snoring: How To Prevent It For A Better Night's Sleep?

Just about everyone snores occasionally, and it’s usually not something to worry about. But if you regularly snore at night, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. And if your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can create major relationship problems, too. Not only is snoring a nuisance, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which increases the risk of developing heart disease.

What causes snoring?

Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing.

Since people snore for different reasons, it’s important to understand the causes behind your snoring. Once you understand why you snore, you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep—for both you and your partner. Let’s mention some common causes of snoring.

how do people snore

Age

As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases. While you can’t do anything about growing older, lifestyle changes, new bedtime routines, and throat exercises can all help to prevent snoring.

an image of an older man snoring in his bed

Being overweight or out of shape

Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Even if you’re not overweight in general, carrying excess weight just around your neck or throat can cause snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all it takes to end your snoring.

The way you're built

Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary. Again, while you have no control over your build or gender, you can control your snoring with the right lifestyle changes, bedtime routines, and throat exercises.

Nasal and sinus problems

Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring. Make sure you see a doctor about your sinus issues and you might get proper medication that can help with that. And of course, make sure to blow and clean your nose frequently.

Alcohol, smoking and medications

Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium), can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring. Put away that night cap because although it can help you fall asleep more quickly, you won’t be getting any rest because of snoring.

Sleep posture

Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help. Try lying on your side – if you have troubles doing that, a pillow might help.

an image of a man sleeping on his back and snoring

Snoring types

Snoring can be broken down into the following categories: nasal snoring, mouth snoring, and tongue snoring. Each one has different causes and treatments:

Nasal snoring

Nasal snoring occurs when nasal passages have been blocked by those suffering from ailments like colds, flu, and allergies. These blockages in the nasal passages force an increasing amount of air through your mouth, creating a vibration which translates into a snoring sound.

Mouth snoring

“Mouth Snoring” is the result of the soft tissues of the palate vibrating against one other. It’s common to those who breathe through their mouths while sleeping, and in particular, can occur when those who breathe through their mouths sleep on their backs or on their sides.

Tongue snoring

Your tongue can play a big part in snoring, as it can block or restrict airflow to your lungs. The tissues in your mouth and throat naturally relax as you sleep, and your tongue can relax to the point that it deviates from its normal position and ends up farther back in your throat.

This type of snoring is quite common and is often exacerbated using alcohol, antihistamines, or sleep aids before bed, as this further relaxes the soft tissues of the palate.

Sleep apnea or OSA

Another potential cause of snoring is the condition known as Sleep Apnea. This is common, and normally chronic, condition characterized by long pauses between breaths during sleep. Oftentimes the pauses are followed by gasping or a loud snort, which may or may not wake the person affected. As with a deviated septum, sleep apnea sufferers are many times not aware they suffer from this condition, and in many cases, it’s your sleeping partner who notices the patterns associated with sleep apnea.

issues caused by snoring

Self-help strategies for snoring

There are so many bizarre anti-snoring devices available on the market today, with more being added all the time, that finding the right solution for your snoring can seem like a demanding task. Unfortunately, many of these devices are not backed up by research, or they work by simply keeping you awake at night. There are, however, plenty of proven techniques that can help eliminate snoring. Not every remedy is right for every person, though, so putting a stop to your snoring may require patience, lifestyle changes, and a willingness to experiment with different solutions.

Bedtime remedies to help you stop snoring

There are some remedies that you can try right before the sleep time to avoid snoring.

Change your sleeping position

Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specifically designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.

Sleep on your side instead of your back

Try attaching a tennis ball to the back of a pajama top or T-shirt (you can sew a sock to the back of your top then put a tennis ball inside). If you roll over onto your back, the discomfort of the tennis ball will cause you to turn back onto your side. Alternatively, wedge a pillow stuffed with tennis balls behind your back. After a while, sleeping on your side will become a habit and you can dispense with the tennis balls.

sleep on side to avoid snoring

Try anti-snoring mouth appliance

These devices, which resemble an athlete’s mouth guard, help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw and/or your tongue forward during sleep. While a dentist-made appliance can be expensive, cheaper do-it-yourself kits are also available. Alternatively, you can get an anti-snoring pillow as well.

Clear nasal passages

If you have a stuffy nose, rinse sinuses with saline before bed. Using a neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips can also help you breathe more easily while sleeping. If you have allergies, reduce dust mites and pet dander in your bedroom 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.

an image of a humidifier for better sleep

Lifestyle changes to help you stop snoring

Changing poor lifestyle habits is always a nice way to improve your life but also your sleeping quality.

Lose weight

Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease, or even stop, snoring.

Quit smoking

If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring. While quitting is easier said than done, it can bring quick snoring relief.

quit smoking to stop snoring

Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives

They relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Also talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you’re taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse.

Be careful what you eat before bed

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, research shows that eating large meals or consuming certain foods such as dairy or soymilk right before bedtime can make snoring worse. Maintain a healthy diet and avoid eating right before bed. The best way is to avoid eating before the bed, but if you have to, see what you should eat before bed.

an image of a woman eating healthy food before bed

Exercise

Exercise in general can reduce snoring, even if it doesn’t lead to weight loss. That’s because when you tone various muscles in your body, such as your arms, legs, and abs, this leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring. There are also specific exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your throat.

a woman exercising

Conclusion

Snoring is a serious problem, not only because of its effect to people around you, but also because of health issues that snoring can cause. There are various causes for snoring, from obesity to nasal and mouth structure and sleep deprivation and apnea. There are various ways to help you stop snoring, like changing the sleeping position, losing weight, correcting nasal structure in your nose, quitting bad habits, or improving your sleep posture. Sometimes, though, snoring might be a symptom of a serious health issue, so if it persist even after you tried everything, you should go and see the doctor.

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