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Wake up feeling rested and refreshed (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)
Whether you snore, or your partner snores – it is something can disrupt everyone’s sleep.
We all know how important sleep is for our overall wellbeing, and being woken up frequently by a sound that you can’t ignore, won’t help you feel rested and at peace the next morning.
But how can you stop? If you’re a snorer, you’re probably used to getting kicked in the shins while you sleep, or told to roll over – but these things tend to only stop the snoring for a little while.
Narwan Amini, a sleep expert from Eachnight.com, says it is possible to stop snoring for good.
What’s the best sleep position to ease snoring?
‘Sleeping on your side instead of on your back is the best way to prevent snoring,’ says Narwan.
‘When you lie on your back, gravity pushes the tongue against the mouth, creating a blockage in the airways that cause you to snore.’
If you find it hard to switch from sleeping on your back to your side, Narwan has a few top tips:
- Avoid tucking your chin into your chest or keeping your head down, as this can block your airways and make it harder to breathe.
- Keep your arms around your waist or parallel to your sides.
- If you have joint pain in this position, try putting a pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned and alleviate lower back pain.
Lifestyle changes to prevent snoring
Narwar suggests developing a regular exercise routine.
‘Weight gain can trigger snoring, as it increases tissue around your neck and throat, meaning your airways are more likely collapse when you’re asleep,’ she explains.
‘Shedding a couple of pounds through exercise can strengthen your neck muscles to prevent snoring and help you lose the extra tissue.’
Next is the classic advice of – drink more water. But it really will help with snoring.
‘Dehydration can thicken mucus in the mouth and throat, worsening snoring,’ says Narwan. ‘Drinking plenty of fluids eases this congestion, allowing you to breathe easier at night.’
Have you ever heard of anti-snoring throat exercises? Narwan says certain exercises can strengthen the muscles in your throat and help end snoring.
Here are some exercises you can practice:
- Repeat each vowel (a-e-i-o-u) out loud for three minutes a few times a day.
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth and slide your tongue across them for three minutes a day.
- Close your mouth and purse your lips and hold for 30 seconds.
- Open and move your jaw to the right and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side.
- With your mouth open, slide the tip of your tongue backward along your hard palate as far back as it will go. Repeat 20 times.
‘Eat lighter and healthier before bed,’ suggests Narwan.
‘If your stomach is too full at night, your diaphragm may not have enough room to expand while breathing, disrupting sleep. Steer clear of dairy products which increase congestion, and stick to high-protein foods at dinner time such as salmon, tuna and turkey which will combat mucus production and help prevent snoring.’
Another tip is to develop a regular bedtime routine.
‘Go to bed at the same time,’ says Narwan. ‘People tend to snore louder and more frequently when they’re sleep deprived.
‘To prevent exhaustion, improve your sleep hygiene habits by following a consistent bedtime schedule, avoiding screens before bed (screens cast blue light which keep your brain awake), and eating light, healthy dinners before bed.’
Changes at home to prevent snoring
Making some simple changes to the environment of your home and bedroom can also help you or your partner to stop snoring.
‘Eliminate allergens in your home,’ says Narwan. ‘As allergens can cause the upper airway to narrow, making it harder to breathe and worsening snoring, aim to decrease as many allergens in your home as possible.’
Cleanliness is also really important.
Narwan adds that you should, ‘wash your sheets and pillowcases regularly, and dust around the house at least once a week to keep your home mite-free.
‘If you have pets, we suggest using a baby gate to keep them out of your bedroom, as pets carry flakes of skin in their fur or hair (dander) which can worsen respiratory problems.
‘It’s also a good idea to frequently wash pet bedding and blankets, to eliminate dander.’
Another tip is to use a humidifier.
‘A humidifier, which blows out steam and increases moisture levels in the air, can help you ease dryness in your nasal passages and throat, and help you breathe better, preventing snoring,’ adds Narwan.
You can also try taking a hot shower before bed.
‘The steam from a hot shower before sleep can moisten your nasal passages and help you breathe better at night, easing snoring,’ says Narwan.
‘A saline rinse is another good option. Saline is a saltwater mixture which can help ease snoring by restoring moisture and easing inflammation of the membranes in your sinuses.
‘You can prepare this yourself by dissolving salt in hot water, although make sure the water is not too hot before you use it.’
Narwan adds that if your snoring is caused by a stuffy nose, cold, a deviated septum or seasonal allergies, nasal strips can provide some relief for congestion.
When to contact a health professional
Sometimes, snoring can be a sign that you have a medical condition that may need some treatment.
‘If you have tried to implement lifestyle changes but haven’t had any luck, try talking with your doctor about your concerns,’ says Narwan.
‘Consulting with a doctor can help you identify the cause of your snoring, and your doctor may be able to assist you in finding better solutions.
‘Snoring frequently is not something that should be ignored. Home remedies may be all you need to stop snoring, but they are not a guarantee. If remedies and lifestyle changes do not work, it could be a sign that you need medical attention.’
Medical devices for snoring
If all else has failed, Narwan says that CPAP machines are a popular treatment option for sleep apnea and snoring.
‘A CPAP machine uses a mask to deliver a continuous flow of air into the nostrils,’ she says. ‘The constant air flow into the nostrils keeps that breathing steady while you sleep.
‘There are two variations of CPAP machines physicians usually suggest, including the BiPAP, which has two levels of air pressure, and the VPAP for varying levels of air pressure.
‘Your doctor may also recommend a palatal implant as a treatment option. These are oral implants designed to relieve snoring and other disturbing symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
‘Palatal implants stiffen and are permanently placed into the soft palate, minimizing the vibrations in your airways.
‘Your doctor may suggest minor surgery to correct your snoring.’
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