Snoring affects not only the person snoring, but their bedmates, and in particularly loud cases, other members of the household. This noisy nuisance can prevent you from sleeping soundly and, for more serious cases, can be a sign that you’re not getting enough oxygen at night. Snoring can be a sign of a serious condition known as sleep apnea, which causes sufferers to temporarily stop breathing for episodes of up to a minute each time during sleep. In the short term, a lack of oxygen at night can leave you groggy in the morning, which makes driving and other daily tasks dangerous. Left untreated, it can also increase your risk for depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Fortunately, there are steps you can take at home to help reduce snoring and improve your breathing so that everyone can sleep in peace. Here are three tips to minimize snoring.
1. Exercise your mouth.
Weak throat muscles can collapse on themselves during sleep, which restricts your airway making breathing difficult and noisy. These daily mouth exercises can help strengthen throat muscles, which can help them stay open:
- The Tongue Depressor: Open your mouth and say “ah,” just like you would at a doctor’s visit. Focus on raising the soft palate at the back of your throat high. Hold for a count of five. Repeat 20 times.
- Tongue Curls: Press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Slide the tip of your tongue along the roof of your mouth as far back as you can. Repeat 20 times.
- Tongue Tied: Suck your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth, hold for a count of five. Repeat 20 times.
2. Eat wisely before bed.
After a long day, it can be tempting to indulge in a hefty plate of fettuccine alfredo, or a t-bone steak, but a full stomach from a large dinner can worsen snoring. Save hard-to-digest foods that can leave you bloated such as spicy sauces, high-fat dairy, or meat-heavy meals for earlier in the day and opt for lighter meals for dinner. Eat smaller dinner portions made up of complex carbohydrates like brown rice or whole wheat pasta to help induce sleep hormone production and a lean protein like poultry, fish, or nuts to help prevent late-night hunger.
Skipping your evening nightcap can also help quiet your snoring. While alcohol makes you sleepy, it prevents you from reaching the deep stages of rest your body needs. It also acts as a muscle relaxant, which can cause your throat to narrow when you lie down for sleep, causing you to snore.
3. Change your sleeping position.
Bad news for back and stomach sleepers: these positions may be contributing to your snoring. Sleeping on your stomach not only makes it harder to breathe deeply, but it strains your airway by keeping your neck in a flexed position all night. While back sleepers experience less pressure on their chest and neck, this position can cause the soft palate to hang down and block the airway, leading to sleep disruption and snoring.
If you aren’t already a side sleeper, try switching to this position at night. Sleeping on your side helps you breathe easier, which reduces your chances of snoring. Keeping a body pillow at your back can help prevent you from rolling onto your back during sleep. If side sleeping isn’t an option, sleeping on your back with your head and shoulders propped up with pillows can also help reduce snoring.
These three tips are practical measures you can take to quiet your nightly symphony of snoring, but these changes aren’t a substitute for professional treatment. If your snoring persists even with lifestyle changes, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying problem. Seeking help from a certified sleep specialist is the first step to sleeping soundly (and silently) through the night. Dr. Pasha always begins treatment with a sleep test to determine the root of a patient’s sleep struggles before working with them to find their best solution. Don’t let snoring keep you and your housemates from getting the rest everyone needs, schedule an appointment with us today.