Snoring is a common condition that takes place when a person's airway muscles relax too much during sleep. It is so common in fact that as many as one in four people in England snore regularly.
Snoring does not just impact one person however; when snoring is loud and disruptive, the condition can end up affecting the sleep of those around you too. Do not worry; it doesn't have to be the end of an undisturbed night. Here are some helpful tips on how to stop snoring and reclaim a peaceful night's sleep.
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is the sound formed when your body is struggling to move air freely around your nose and throat whilst you are asleep. Like all other sounds, the snoring sounds are caused by the vibrations that cause particles in the air to create sound waves. The actual sound comes from the vibrating of the soft palate and tissue in your mouth, nose or throat.
When we are asleep, the airways at the back of the throat can narrow as the body's muscles naturally relax. Whilst the same amount of air still needs to pass through, the opening of the airway is smaller, which in turn causes the tissues surrounding the opening to begin vibrating.
Naturally, we breathe through our noses, but sometimes this cannot happen due to obstruction of the nasal passages; this can happen because of allergies or because of a broken or damaged nose. Additionally, the narrowing of the nose, throat or mouth airway can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking or a lack of exercise.
When snoring is particularly loud, the condition can be associated with other sleep-related disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
. Snoring doesn't have to be a regular pattern in someone's life; the condition can start and stop occasionally or never happen at all. However, sometimes there are certain factors which can influence your snoring habits, and being aware of these can help you or your partner deal with the condition correctly.
Why Do Some People Snore and Others Don't?
Although snoring will occur at least once in most people's lives, there are certain factors which can increase the likelihood of snoring or exacerbate the condition. Here are some of those causes:
- Being overweight can lead to an increase in fat and bulky tissue around the throat, which places extra pressure on the throat muscles resulting in snoring.
- Your alcohol intake can also have an impact on your sleeping routine. Drinking alcohol can send you into a deep sleep that causes your muscles to relax more than usual, including the ones in your throat. This increases the narrowing of your airways which commonly leads to snoring.
- If you have a long soft palate and/or uvula you are more likely to have a snoring condition. A long soft palate or uvula can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat which is a common cause of snoring.
- Smoking is another factor which can lead to snoring. Smoking causes the upper airway to swell, which makes less space for the air to move around and makes you more likely to snore.
- Certain medications can also increase the likelihood of snoring. Some forms of anti-depressants, certain painkillers and other various sedatives can cause your muscles to relax the same way alcohol does, leading to snoring.
- Surprisingly, allergies are also a common cause of snoring. When your nose becomes swollen or inflamed due to an allergy such as hay fever, space for air to move up your nose is limited and can cause you to snore.
If snoring is something that is having an impact on your sleeping pattern lifestyle changes, medical support and devices and gadgets are all options to consider to prevent snoring taking over your life.
Small lifestyle changes could create huge improvements for you or your partners snoring:
- Exercise - Exercising regularly will help you lose weight, resulting in less pressure on your upper airway.
- Quit Smoking - By quitting or reducing how much you smoke, your upper airway will not be as swollen, which will increase the space for air to get through and make you less likely to snore.
- Avoid Drinking Alcohol Before Bed - By not drinking alcohol before you go to bed, your throat muscles are less likely to relax and cause you to snore.
- Avoid Medicines Which Can Make You Sleepy - Unless you have been prescribed a specific medication by a doctor, see if you can find alternatives that do not risk making you sleepy. Most side effects will be listed on any medication you purchase.
- Adjust your Sleeping Position - Most people who sleep on their back are more likely to snore, so rule out that sleeping position first. If you are struggling to adjust to sleeping on your side, place something behind your back to stop you from rolling over. However, it could be useful to try different sleeping positions to see if any impact you or your partner's snoring.
Stop Snoring Devices
If lifestyle changes are taking a while to work for you, or are not working at all, you may be interested in investing in a specially made device or gadget designed to help prevent snoring:
- Nasal Strips - If you or your partner's snoring is mainly coming from your nose, nasal strips may be something which can help with snoring. The strips are placed over your nose each night before going to sleep and aim to keep your nose open all night long.
- Nasal Dilators - This is another solution for snoring that comes from the nose. The device is placed inside the nose to hold the nose open and prevent snoring.
- Chin Straps - If your snoring is coming from your mouth then chin straps may be something that could solve the problem. These straps are designed to hold your mouth closed during the night, encouraging you to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth.
- Vestibular Guard - Another solution for snoring from the mouth could be purchasing one of these devices. The vestibular guard is placed in your mouth before going to sleep and again encourages you to breathe through your nose.
- Acupressure Ring - This device is a ring which is worn on your finger, with the aim to apply acupressure. Using an acupressure ring is an alternative therapy that applies a theory similar to acupuncture.
Medicines for Snoring
Although there are no medications formulated to specifically stop snoring, there are medications (over-the-counter and prescribed) and natural remedies that can be used to target symptoms which cause the snoring such as extra mucus and congestion in your nose.
Steroid Nasal Sprays or Antihistamine Tablets - These medications can be purchased over-the-counter or they can be prescribed by a doctor. Using nasal sprays or anti-allergy tablets could prove helpful if you have an allergy such as hay fever which is causing blockages in the nasal passages resulting in you or your partner snoring.
Decongestant Tablets - Tablets formulated to target the symptoms of a cold or flu may help prevent snoring by preventing extra mucus blocking your nose.
In very rare cases, operations can be performed if there is a clear cause of the snoring that needs to be operated on to be removed or fixed. Operations will only be performed, however, if a doctor or medical expert deems it compulsory and every other option has been ruled out.
- Tonsillectomy - This is an operation that usually removes both the tonsils and your adenoids. It is more likely for children to undergo this operation when large tonsils are causing a series of problems such as regular tonsillitis, snoring and OSA.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) - This operation involves removing excess tissue around the mouth and throat to create more space for air. The uvula, tonsils and some of your soft palate are also removed. In some cases, reconstruction and reorganising the existing tissues at the back of the mouth will also take place. Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is a similar procedure but a laser is used instead to burn away the uvula and soft of the soft palate.
- Radiofrequency Ablation - This procedure involves numbing the roof of the mouth and embedding a device called an electrode into it. The electrode will send radiofrequency waves into the soft palate which causes it to stiffen and reduce the vibrating that leads to snoring.
- Operations on the Nose - If your nose is crooked, it could be bending the nasal septum deviation so straightening the nose may help to prevent snoring. Also, nasal polyps can reduce the space in your nose for air to move freely so having these taken out may also stop snoring.
- Soft Palate Implants - Implants can be injected into your soft palate which stiffens it and reduces vibrations that lead to snoring.
Sleeping Next to a Snoring Partner
Snoring can also affect other people's sleep, with one common victim being the individual's partner. If your partner's snoring is affecting your sleep, you could end up feeling tired and unfocused during the day; this can also potentially end up having a negative impact on your relationship. However, it is still possible to get a good night's sleep with a snoring partner, and learning how to do this is important in order to maintain your own quality of sleep.
Don't Suffer in Silence
Don't let fatigue and irritability get the better of you; be honest with your partner about their snoring and explain that it is having a negative impact your sleep and mood during the day. Try and come up with a plan together to tackle the issue and do some research (you are in the right place) on what can be done to prevent snoring.
Before marching straight to a doctor or sleep specialist, examine any habits or reasons they might have for snoring. If you feel your partner needs to shed a few pounds, delicately suggest that doing so could potentially stop the snoring and perhaps offer to lose weight together as a couple. If your partner sleeps on their back, think of solutions together that will change their sleeping position.
One common method to prevent people sleeping on their back is to sew a sock onto their pyjamas and put a tennis ball inside. This will make sleeping on the back uncomfortable encouraging them to lie on their side even when asleep. Smoking causes inflammation in the airways which can also result in snoring, so if your partner smokes this may be the perfect opportunity to quit an unhealthy habit.
When to Turn to Professionals
If you have eliminated all the common causes behind snoring and your partner's condition is still prominent, it may be time to go and visit a doctor or sleep specialist. Snoring can sometimes be a sign of other sleep disorders so it can be worth going to your doctor to have some checks to rule out anything more serious.
Sleeping Through the Snoring
Unfortunately, however, some people do just snore and no remedy or lifestyle change will stop it. In this instance, there are methods you can try yourself to work through your partners snoring.
- Ear Plugs - A simple, cheap and effective method, ear plugs are a perfect way to block out any unwanted noise when you are trying to sleep.
- White Noise - These machines can be purchased in all different forms and sizes and there are also mobile phone apps available that can play white noise whilst you sleep. White noise can help mask snoring and create soothing sounds to fall asleep to.
- Separate Beds - Although it may not serve as a permanent solution, sleeping in separate beds could be a temporary fix to ensure you get a good night's sleep whilst you are still exploring other options.
Do remember that snoring is a common condition that almost everyone encounters at least once in their lives, so do not feel isolated with it; speaking to friends or family who can also offer you advice may help too.
Being healthy is the first step to eliminating a lot of different conditions, so before you turn to medical advice or spend money on gadget solutions, ensure your health is as good as it can be. Quit any unhealthy habits, exercise regularly and eat a healthy and balanced diet; even if this doesn't eliminate snoring, being healthy can help target the symptoms that arise from snoring such as fatigue and feeling sluggish, so you will still feel better in yourself.