Snoring happens. A lot. It’s estimated that around 25% of adults do it regularly, while another 45% are occasional snorers.
There are multiple causes of this disruptive phenomenon, which momentarily interrupts sleep for the snorer and can spur insomnia or other sleep disorders for anyone sharing their bedroom.
There are multiple possible causes, and the louder the snoring is the more likely it’s rooted in sleep apnea, a serious medical condition that should be treated by a physician.
Milder snorers are more likely to have other circumstances that are triggering their nasal noise, which can be alleviated with one or more lifestyle changes, including:
- Side sleeping — Those who sleep on their back are more likely to have their tongue fall backwards into their throat to create a partial blockage of their airway, limiting the flow of oxygen and leading to snorting and snoring.
Anyone who finds it difficult to sleep when they aren’t on their back can try using pillows or even specially designed shirts to discourage them from doing it.
- Weight loss — Overweight people are more likely to have larger amounts of fatty tissue in their neck, which can create pressure on their windpipe and restrict the flow of air into their lungs. Obesity is a common risk factor for sleep apnea as well as snoring, so it’s a good idea to at least consider losing a few pounds and seeing how that helps.
- Tongue exercises — Strengthening your tongue so it’s less likely to flop back into your throat is another recommendation from some sleep experts, though it won’t work for everyone and may need to be combined with other treatments.
See www.sleepfoundation.org/snoring/mouth-exercises-to-stop-snoring to learn more.
- Limit alcohol and sedatives — Both can contribute to relaxation of throat muscles to the point that it causes snoring. Avoid drinking alcohol up to three hours before bedtime, and talk to a doctor about alternatives to sleeping pills or other sedatives.
- Treat allergy symptoms — Over-the-counter or prescription medications including Claritin, Zyrtec or Benadryl may relieve allergy-related snoring, or prescription-strength versions may be needed to eliminate this issue.