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If you’re trying to figure out how to stop snoring, you have a wide range of possible solutions awaiting you. Sometimes altering your lifestyle is in order (see sidebar below); weight loss or avoiding alcohol too close to bedtime may be enough to quiet your slumber. Or you may need snoring aids that work by opening up your nasal passages. It also may be necessary to treat conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea.
“Snoring is nothing more than the sound of your breath trying to get through your throat when the walls of your throat narrow or touch together,” says Thomas Sullivan, MD, a sleep specialist at Indiana University Health. “However, snoring is a warning sign that something else is going on.”
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Snoring as a Symptom
As Dr. Sullivan notes, the first step in learning find snoring aids that work is to determine the cause of your nighttime noisemaking. It could be something relatively harmless. Congestion (nasal- or chest-related) and sleeping with your mouth open can be snoring triggers. If you’re frequently congested, due to chronic allergies, sinusitis, or other conditions that affect your breathing, treating them should help put an end to your snoring.
Certain anatomical issues may also contribute to snoring. Having a deviated septum, which means the wall between your nostrils is off center or crooked, can mean your breathing passages are narrowed. For some people, that narrowing can make breathing more difficult and snoring more likely.
You may also have an airway narrowed by large tonsils, or simply a throat that allows less air to be inhaled and exhaled. “Some people have narrower throats than others, which predisposes them to snoring,” says Dr. Sullivan. “Also, our muscles naturally relax during sleep, and some people’s throat and tongue muscles relax much more than others. This also makes them more likely to snore because it allows the walls of the throat to come closer together and the tongue to fall farther back, blocking airways.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
CAN LIFESTYLE CHANGES EASE OUR SNORING?
An increase in snoring often accompanies weight gain. Fatty tissue can accumulate around the base of the neck and the tongue, making for a smaller airway. “The more overweight a person is, the smaller his throat becomes and the more likely they are to snore,” says Indiana University Health sleep specialist Thomas Sullivan, MD. “Greater neck circumference is also a risk factor for OSA.
While weight loss isn’t always easy, it may be your ticket to how to stop snoring and get a better night’s sleep.
Other changes you can make include avoiding alcohol too close to bedtime. Alcohol can do too good a job of relaxing the muscles and tissue in the back of the throat, and snoring can be the result. Alcohol can also interfere with your body chemistry overnight. It can cause a spike in blood pressure and other reactions. While it may help you fall asleep, alcohol is actually the enemy of good, quiet sleep.
Also, be careful of medications that interfere with sleep. If you’ve started a new prescription medication and find that suddenly your sleep is interrupted or that you’re snoring more, tell your doctor. You may be able to take the drug at a different time of day or switch to a different type of medication.
And finally, the simplest solution for how to stop snoring for many people is to sleep on your side instead of your back. You may have to train yourself to get used to it, but it’s a proven strategy. Plenty of spouses have given their snoring partners a nudge to roll over on their side to cut down on the noise.
Remember that snoring is more than a nuisance. It can be a sign of a serious condition. So take it seriously and find out how you and your partner can get a better night’s sleep.
Sleep Apnea and Snoring
When the muscles and tissue in the back of the throat relax to the point that airflow is blocked and you temporarily stop breathing, the condition is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It’s one of the most common forms of a group of conditions that fall under the umbrella label of “sleep-disordered breathing.” If you have OSA, your breathing may stop and start dozens or even hundreds of times a night.
Snoring and gasping for air are common signs of OSA. Often a bed partner recognizes OSA before the person who’s experiencing the problem. But addressing OSA isn’t just about how to stop snoring. This breathing problem is associated with high blood pressure and other heart problems.
“Sleep apnea or sleep-disordered breathing is one that we’re getting more and more interested in because we see a very strong association with strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems,” says Melvyn Rubenfire, MD, director of Preventative Cardiology at the University of Michigan Health System’s Cardiovascular Center.
Some people with sleep apnea have found success with snoring aids that work by bringing the lower jaw forward slightly to help keep their airways clear. Even if OSA isn’t the problem, there are products that can help keep you from sawing logs every night.
Snoring Aids That Work: Consider These Options
The “gold standard” for treating OSA and quieting your snoring is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This form of therapy includes a small bedside machine that pumps air through a tube to a mask that fits over your nose and mouth or to two smaller tubes that fit in your nostrils. CPAP devices are constantly being improved and modified to be more user friendly. If you have questions about how to stop snoring with CPAP therapy, consult your doctor or a sleep specialist to discuss other options, too.
Other snoring aids that work for some people include dental appliances you wear at night. Typically called mouthpieces or mouthguards, they’re usually custom-fitted for your mouth and work by moving your jaw slightly forward while you sleep. This helps keep the your airways open while you’re lying down. If a mouthpiece interests you, talk with your dentist or a sleep specialist about sources that produce these devices.
Some of the simplest and least-expensive snoring aids are enough for many people. Nasal strips are an example; they fit across the outside of the nose and gently pull at the nostrils to keep them open, as long as you’re not dealing with OSA or other serious breathing problems.
Be careful, though. Not all snoring aids do the job. A 2014 study by researchers at Seton Hall University, published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine, found that anti-snoring chinstraps were not effective at treating OSA. They were also found to be poor at stopping snoring, too.
The chinstraps are designed to work in a similar way to the dental appliances. These lightweight gadgets fit over your head and across your chin to help adjust your jaw so that your air passages remain open. You may be better off going with more proven snoring devices.