In popular culture, snoring is seen as a relatively inoffensive joke. It can depict anything from the bored child, a carefree elderly person, or perhaps used in a derogatory fashion to describe an unhygienic sleeper. Whether you suffer from snoring, or you’re disrupting sleep from your partner, family members or roommates, the condition is often perceived as a minor issue. However, snoring is actually a more serious condition than you may think and should be treated as such.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the sound that results from obstructed air movement as you’re breathing while sleeping. Simply put, it is noisy breathing during sleep. When you sleep, the muscles in your throat relax. This narrowing and relaxation of the walls in your throat can cause vibrations as you breathe in and out. Narrower airways can cause greater vibrations since it obstructs air movement, thus resulting in louder snoring.
Snoring can range from a mild annoyance, to a symptom of more severe conditions including sleep related afflictions. It is known to be common in around 45% of adults of both genders, with males being slightly more at risk. In fact, about one half of people who snore excessively have obstructive sleep apnea. This is a serious sleep disorder where your breathing has many short and abrupt interruptions when your throat collapses completely. It can also cause sleep deprivation for the snorer and those around them. Symptoms of this can include irritability, lack of focus and drowsiness during the following day. There have also been several studies that indicate a correlation between loud snoring and risk of heart attacks and strokes.
What are some common causes of snoring?
There are can be many causes of snoring which may apply to you. Here is a list of the most common ones:
1. Normal aging process
As you grow older, your throat muscles will naturally become more relaxed. Snoring will become more apparent. On its own, you shouldn’t worry too much about a gradual increase in snoring, but you should be aware if the condition becomes more serious than you expect.
2. Sleep position
If you’re lying on your back, you will be more prone to disruptive snoring. The reason is that base of your tongue and soft palate will collapse to the back wall of your throat. This creates a greater obstruction to your airways.
3. Obstruction in your nasal passageway
This occurs most often when you’re down with the common cold. A runny nose and sore throat can contribute to blocking airways, which causes louder snoring. This can also occur if you have a large buildup of mucus in your nose.
4. Irregular sleep habits
Sleep deprivation can cause floppier muscles in your throat, meaning they relax much more than usual. This can happen often if you are overworking or cramming study sessions.
5. Drinking alcohol or taking other relaxants
Alcohol or other sedatives tend to have a relaxing effect on your throat muscles. The looser muscles in your throat will vibrate more vigorously.
6. Smoking cigarettes
Cigarettes have a direct negative effect on your respiratory system, which includes weakening and clogging your throat. Reduced lung capacity can also cause you to take deeper breaths during sleep, which can make snoring even louder.
7. Fat gathering around or in your throat
Obesity can have a major effect on snoring. Instead of the walls of your throat relaxing, the space it can occupy simply shrinks as the fat pushes it closer together. This means that the airway can be more obstructed even if you don’t consume relaxants or have an irregular sleep schedule.
8. Allergens, dust, pet dander and other irritants in the air
Allergic reactions to irritants in the air can create obstructions in your nasal passageway, leading to undue snoring.
Tips to cure snoring on your own
Before you consult with a doctor or purchase medication, you should try out some of these solutions on your own. Even if it doesn’t solve your snoring problems, many of these tips can have a positive effect on your lifestyle.
1. Switch up your sleeping position
Since sleeping on your back can cause snoring, sleeping on your side is a natural way to fix it. Switching to a side position means that the base of your tongue won’t get in the way of your throat. Since it can be uncomfortable for some people, you can help achieve this by getting a full-length pillow that supports your whole body.
2. Fix your sleep habits
Maintaining a more regular sleep schedule will allow your body more ample time to rest. Your throat muscles won’t become overly relaxed when you go to bed each night. Not only will this improve sleep conditions in terms of snoring levels, but it will also improve your general energy levels the next day.
3. Quit smoking
Since smoking weakens your respiratory system and affects your breathing passage negatively, it is logical that quitting smoking will help. While reducing snoring might not be the number 1 reason why people list when wanting to quit smoking, it can be thought of as a very beneficial side effect, especially for anyone that sleeps nearby.
4. Avoid drinking alcohol before bed
This is a simple fix to improve sleeping conditions. While it can be easy for you to get drunk and pass out for an carefree night’s sleep, it can have adverse conditions for anyone sleeping nearby. It can also create more serious problems if you do suffer from sleep apnea.
5. Stay hydrated throughout the day
Similar to the previous tip, replacing your diet with healthier drink options will improve sleep conditions. Drinking lots of fluids ensures that the secretions in your nose don’t become too sticky. This reduces undue mucus buildup in your nose and throat, which should improve the air flow.
6. Lose weight
Although it may not be the only cause, losing weight can have a meaningful effect in reducing snoring. Losing weight means less pressure on your throat from fat buildup.
7. Clean your sleeping area
This includes your pillows, blankets, shades, vents and even ceiling fans. The accumulation of dust mites and other allergens can cause reactions that lead to increased snoring. Another way to improve the air in your room is to get a moisturizer. If your room has particularly dry air, an air moisturizer can help balance that to reduce irritants.
Using medicine to remedy snoring
There are several solutions that are available at your local drug store that can help with snoring.
1. Nasal strips
These strips that are placed on the bridge of your nose help by opening up your nasal passages. They stick right above your nose and then straightens out to open up the air passage. This solution is most effective when you are suffering from nasal congestion due to a cold, or allergies.
2. Melatonin supplements
These supplements are designed to work with your natural sleep cycle to ensure that your sleeps are more refreshing. Since melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally by your body and is specifically linked to your biological clock, it is vital you take these supplements before bed during the night. It can reduce snoring that is caused by sleeplessness.
3. Sleep aids (Diphenhydramine)
More commonly known as Benadryl, or sleep aids, this over-the-counter antihistamine helps reduce symptoms of sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. It also has an effect of inducing sleep. This combination of reducing problematic causes of snoring and helping you sleep on a more regular schedule can have a strong effect in decreasing snoring.
If none of these natural tips or over-the-counter medicines are helping in reducing snoring, you may have a more serious issue. Consulting with a doctor is highly recommended.