Snoring is a common problem across all ages and genders causing disruption to your own as well as your partner’s sleep. As many as 30 per cent of people aged thirty and above are snorers.
Finding a good sleeping position is a good first step in preventing snoring. Photo courtesy: WMC
The proportion rises to 40 per cent after age 40 and 45 per cent after age 55. It can be an intermittent or a regular problem that can lead to daytime tiredness and sleepiness. The two most common adverse health effects that are believed to be casually linked to snoring are stroke and heart disease. About one-half of people who snore loudly have obstructive sleep apnea, according to the Sleep Foundation. This is a serious condition that needs to be addressed by your doctor.
There is no cure for snoring. Lifestyle changes like: weight loss, exercise, managing your allergies, and changing sleeping positions are your best bet.
– Weight Loss –
Being overweight by 20 lbs or having a neck size is greater than 17 inches (42 cm) increases your chance of being a snorer. Gaining weight around your neck, squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, triggering snoring.
– Exercise –
As we age we tend to snore more, because our tissues lose strength and elasticity, filling up our airways more than they once did. There are a number of different mouth and throat exercises you can try, according to Every Day Roots, many adopted from speech pathologists or doctors who use them to help patients who have trouble swallowing. Try to protrude the lower jaw over the upper jaw with your teeth showing while you count slowly to ten. Repeat 5-10 times a day.
Give your tongue a work out by saying this phrase at least 10-20 times before going to sleep “The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue,” according to website Every Day Roots. Or pick your favorite tongue twister.
Put your tongue out straight as far as you can, moving it left, then right, touching the corner of your lips but making sure it stays straight. Practice in front of a mirror twice a day.
Try Pranayama, a type of yoga exercise and relaxation technique that has been used to relieve various sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Master taking deep breaths in and out and trying to make the best of the oxygen around you by breathing in slowly.
– Manage your allergies –
Allergens like pollen, dust, mold, animal dander, and other unseen irritants can cause congestion and irritate your airways, both of which can contribute to snoring. Change your air filters, dust your overhead ceiling fans, vacuum your floors and drapes, change your linens, replace your pillows on a regular basis. If nasal congestion is causing your snoring, use a neti pot, take a hot steam, apply a nasal strip, take a decongestant or antihistamine before bedtime.
– Humidifier –
If dry air and congestion are making you snore, try adding various oils like peppermint and eucalyptus to the vaporizer/humidifier to help open up airways and clear out your sinuses while you sleep. Or request a move to an exotic tropical location.
– Sleep Position –
Lying on your back allows the base of your tongue and soft palate to collapse against the back wall of your throat. Try putting a tennis ball behind you when you sleep. The idea being that when you roll over, the discomfort from the tennis ball will force you back onto your side without waking you up. Or sleep hugging a body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports your entire body).
Raise the head of your bed about 4 inches, which may help keep your tongue from falling back and blocking your throat, and help to keep open up your airways. An easy way to do it is to place several flat two-by-eights or two-by-tens boards under the legs at the top end of the bed. Buy yourself a few extra pillows and prop yourself up in bed, rather than lying flat on your back.
As you get older, you have less muscle tone in your throat, leading to narrowed and obstructed airflows. Try these solutions to help you take steps to reduce your tendency to snore by addressing other triggers. Figuring out what causes your snoring is key to stopping or reducing snoring.
Stay Hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you’re dehydrated. Don’t eat a heavy meal 3 hours before bedtime. Tobacco smoke irritates mucous membranes, so your throat swells, narrowing the airway. Quit smoking, it’s bad for you anyways. Gargle with a peppermint mouthwash to shrink the lining of your nose and throat. Herbalists recommend drinking up to three cups of tea made from the herb stinging nettle for soothing inflammation caused by pollen allergies.
If you’re living with someone who snores consider these practical methods to deal with the snoring before getting a separate bedroom.
Dr. Ailin Oishi-Stamatiou, BSc Hons, DC, is a licensed and registered chiropractor who practices in Leaside, Toronto. She is bilingual in Japanese and English. More info at: www.droishi.com