9 Ways to Help You Stop Snoring
Snoring is a fairly common affliction, affecting 40 percent of men and 25 percent of women. If you snore, you make a raspy, rattling, snorting sound while you breathe during sleep. Older people are particularly prone to snoring: About one-third of people ages 55 to 84 snore. Despite its frequency, however, snoring is a sleep disorder that can have serious medical and social consequences. The tips that follow may help you sleep more peacefully.
- Sleep on your side. Snoring is more likely if you’re lying on your back.
- Lose weight. Excess body weight, especially around the neck, puts pressure on the airway, causing it to partially collapse.
- Avoid alcohol and tranquilizers. Alcohol and sleeping pills can depress your central nervous system and relax the muscles of your throat and jaw, making snoring more likely. These substances are also known to contribute to sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that has been linked with cardiovascular disease.
- Get your allergies treated. Chronic respiratory allergies may cause snoring by forcing sufferers to breathe through their mouths while they sleep. Taking a decongestant or antihistamine before bedtime may help. If your nose is blocked, try using over-the-counter saline spray or a humidifier to prevent snoring.
- Buy a mouth guard. Your dentist or doctor may be able to prescribe an anti-snoring mouth guard that holds the teeth together and keeps the lower jaw muscles from becoming too lax.
- Stop smoking. Smoke damages the respiratory system.
- Keep a regular schedule. Get plenty of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- See a doctor if you are pregnant and snoring. Women who are pregnant will sometimes begin to snore. The snoring may rob the baby of oxygen, so pregnant women who snore should talk to the doctor about it.
- Elevate your head. Sleeping with your head raised may take some of the pressure off the airway, making breathing easier and reducing snoring. Raise the head of the bed by putting blocks under the bed posts, or prop yourself up with pillows.
When Snoring Becomes Serious
Snoring is a nuisance. It can keep your bed partner awake, and it can prevent you from getting the restful sleep you need. It may also indicate that you have sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder. The National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org) recommends that you see your doctor if:
- You wake up during the night choking and gasping for breath
- You have been told that your snoring is disturbing to others
- You don’t feel refreshed when you wake up
- You are extremely tired during the day
- You wake with a headache
- You are gaining weight
- You have trouble concentrating, remembering, or paying attention
- Your bed partner notices that your breathing pauses during sleep
It’s important to have sleep apnea treated, not only because it interferes with your daily functioning, but because it increases your risk of vascular disease.
Sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle modification, surgery, oral mouth guards, or a CPAP machine, which blows air into the back of your throat while you sleep.