If your nighttime breathing sounds like a garbage disposal and lawn mower had a baby, you might just be a snorer. And you’re not alone. Roughly 45 percent of adults snore on occasion, and 25 percent are frequent snorers, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology. The harsh sound comes from “an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose.”
There are several causes of snoring — from benign and temporary to serious medical conditions. And being a snorer can result in complications, including daytime drowsiness, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. Thankfully, relief is possible for many people. If you’re ready to put your noisy breathing to bed, here are nine remedies to help you stop snoring.
1. Change your sleep position
Quieting snores could be as simple as changing your sleep position. “Snoring is typically most frequent and loudest when sleeping on the back as gravity’s effect on the throat narrows the airway,” according to Mayo Clinic. Thus, sleeping on your side is ideal, as you can open your airway while still maintaining ideal spine alignment.
Try using pillows — especially a body pillow — to prevent yourself from rolling on your back. According to the American Sleep Association, some people even attach tennis balls to their clothing to make it uncomfortable to sleep on their backs. Slightly elevating the head of your bed also might help to keep your airway open. But make sure your pillows don’t tilt your head too far forward and restrict airflow.
2. Unplug your nose
Obstructed nasal passageways — i.e., a stuffy nose — might be the culprit of your snores. “A stuffy or blocked nose requires extra effort to pull air through it,” the Academy of Otolaryngology says. “This creates an exaggerated vacuum in the throat that pulls together the floppy tissues of the throat and snoring results.”
Work with your doctor to pinpoint whether seasonal or chronic allergies might be causing you to snore. Change your pillows, and wash your bedding frequently to make your sleep environment as clean as possible. You also can try nasal strips, which give your nose a little more room to breathe.
3. Stay hydrated
You probably know you should drink plenty of fluids when you have a cold. Among other benefits, hydration helps to thin mucus, giving you more space to breathe. So make sure you’re hydrated before bed to help prevent snoring — but not too hydrated that you’re waking up to go to the bathroom all night. You also can try sleeping with a humidifier on, which helps ease congestion.
4. Exercise your mouth
Facial exercises aren’t just a celebrity (and royal) trend. They actually can help us common folk stop snoring. According to the Academy of Otolaryngology, “poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat” can cause snoring. “When muscles are too relaxed, the tongue falls backwards into the airway or the throat muscles draw in from the sides into the airway,” it says.
Don’t worry — no expensive personal trainer is necessary for this. Check out some easy “ face yoga ” you can do from the comfort of home. Or simply pop in some chewing gum every so often to strengthen muscles around your mouth and throat.
5. Avoid drugs
Besides general weakness, alcohol and sedatives also can relax the muscles in your throat to the point where they cut off airflow and you snore. The American Sleep Association recommends refraining from alcohol within three to four hours of bedtime. And if you take sleeping pills, discuss alternatives with your doctor.
Similarly, smoking is another habit that can worsen snoring by causing swelling in your nose and throat. It’s best for your health to avoid it altogether. “Smoking causes so many health problems, but snoring is one that should improve just a few weeks after you quit smoking,” the American Sleep Association says.
6. Try certain essential oils
Some essential oils have the potential to reduce snoring, though more research needs to be done in the area. According to Healthline, rubbing thyme oil on your feet at night can possibly help to combat snoring. Also, peppermint and eucalyptus oils, among others, can help to open your airway.
Experiment with the oils by adding them to a nighttime bath or shower or diffusing them in your bedroom. Or you can try applying them to your skin via a carrier oil or lotion. Just make sure you’re reading their labels on proper use.
7. Get enough sleep
Just like sedatives and weakness, sleep deprivation also can make throat muscles relax too much and block the airway, causing you to snore. So it’s important to get enough quality sleep. The problem is that’s easier said than done if you’re a chronic snorer. According to the Academy of Otolaryngology, it’s vital to “establish regular sleeping patterns.” And deal with any issues — snoring and otherwise — that might be preventing you from getting quality sleep.
8. Lose weight
Some people who snore might just have unlucky anatomy that prevents optimal airflow. A low, thick soft palate or long uvula both can narrow your airway. And weight also might play a factor. “People who are overweight may have extra tissues in the back of their throats that may narrow their airways,” according to Mayo Clinic. So losing a little weight might give your airway the space it needs to breathe quietly and effectively.
9. See your doctor
If you’re just an occasional snorer, as almost 1 in 2 people are, you likely have nothing to worry about. But if your symptoms are chronic or you experience complications — such as fatigue, gasping in your sleep or high blood pressure — it’s time to talk to your doctor. “Snoring is often associated with a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea,” according to Mayo Clinic. This frequently is treated with a device that opens the airway.
Likewise, doctors also might recommend surgery to remove excess tissue in the airway or other procedures that make breathing easier. It’s just a matter of finding the right remedy for you, so you finally can have that quiet night’s sleep.
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