13 Snoring Remedies You Probably Haven’t Tried Yet
Snoring ruins sleep for almost 90 million Americans, and sleep apnea—a major cause of snoring—is deadly. Here's how to stop sawing logs for good.
Change your sleeping position
If you sleep on your back, chances are, you’re snoring. According to John Hopkins Medicine, sleep position is key. Sleeping on your side will help keep your airways open, explains Benjamin Smarr, National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley and Reverie sleep advisory board member. “One of the easiest things to do if you snore is to try and sleep on your side and to make sure you have good neck support,” he says. “Both help keep your neck from bending too much and cutting off your airways as you sleep. The more open your airways are, the more freely air can flow, and the less turbulent air causes the noise we call snoring.” Here are 22 ways you’re probably sleeping wrong.
Get creative with tennis balls
Edward Alvarez, DDS, PC, a dentist specializing in snoring, cautions snorers to explore the cause of their issue. “The reality is that snoring is a major problem,” he says. “If you’re snoring, then you probably have sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea, you will eventually develop organ damage. Sleep apnea can lead to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and even stroke.” See a sleep specialist about your problem, Dr. Alvarez stresses. And in the meantime, to keep from sleeping on your back try sewing or taping a tennis ball to the back of a shirt. “The ball won’t allow you to sleep on your back,” he explains, and that will help keep your airways open.
“Jaw repositioning devices and dental snoring mouthpieces do work,” explains Dr. Alvarez. “There are two variations, the ones that you can buy in stores or on the Internet, and the ones made professionally by a dentist. I can say that nine out of ten patients that I make one of these devices for sees significant improvement in sleep quality and snoring,” he says. Bringing the jaw forward keeps the airway is opened: “A dentist trained in sleep medicine can fabricate a well-fitting device that works. The over-the-counter versions tend to not be as effective. They are made of poor materials, and they do not account for your bite. It is very easy to create bite disharmonies or jaw pain if these devices are not made and fitted properly.”
Facial and nasal strips
Another option is a supportive jaw strip, says Snorelax founder, Jaime Raijman. The Snorelax supportive strips aim to accomplish the same effect of keeping the jaw forward and the airways open: “Snorelax adhesive strips stabilize the jaw from the sides of the face to stop the snoring before it starts,” explains Raijman.
Some people try nasal strips that go over the bridge of the nose, but Dr. Alvarez feels they’re unlikely to help. “These strips are designed to stick to the outside of the nostrils and lift them up or open them when they are small or collapsed. The idea is that they let more air into the nasal passages, and the person will snore less. I will tell you that they do improve breathing at night, but as for snoring, it’s not really a great solution.”
A “smart” pillow
A pillow insert called the Smart Nora monitors your sleep, and gently inflates when it detects snoring. Once you stop, it deflates. The concept is that raising your head will stimulate throat muscles and allow for natural breathing to begin once again. The insert works for back and side sleepers and is compatible with down or memory foam pillows.
Shed some pounds
Alongside all the benefits that come with weight loss is less snoring: Monica Tadros, MD, FACS, encourages those battling a chronic snoring problem to consider losing weight. She explains, “Weight loss can dramatically help patients. Studies show that fat accumulation in the neck and base of tongue can worsen snoring and increase your risk of developing sleep apnea.”
Say “no” to the nightcap
Dr. Tadros recommends foregoing that glass of wine before bed. “Avoiding alcohol consumption close to bedtime can help with snoring. Alcohol further relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat, and can worsen both snoring and increase your risk of developing sleep apnea.”
Use a humidifier
“Humidifiers are one of the most surprising tools for treating that pesky snoring problem,” according to Caleb Backe, a Maple Holistics health and wellness expert. “Snoring is often the result of dry air and congestion, which is why humidifiers are so effective. These machines attack the problem at the source while providing a wide array of other health benefits. Besides allowing for easier breathing, humidifiers also help prevent the spread of airborne germs and can even relieve allergy symptoms.”
When other snoring remedies fail, it might be time to consider more permanent solutions, says Dr. Tadros. “Surgical treatment of the tonsils, soft palate, and uvula can help patients. I prefer to use a palatal muscle repositioning technique for patients that increases the width, depth, and height of the oropharyngeal airway,” he says. “This is procedure restores the anatomy to its ideal state and helps improve snoring and sleep apnea for patients.”
Change your diet
“If you are truly looking for the root cause solution to snoring, you must address the gut,” says Eunice Deane, DC. “Snoring and sleep apnea issues are directly correlated to excessive carbohydrate intake. Reduce gut inflammation by a combination of diet and lifestyle changes. Many people report a reduction or total absence of symptoms when they follow a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet. Look to your body, and be the detective it needs to heal itself by giving it the nutrients that are missing or deficient to prevent and treat snoring.”
Play a wind instrument or sing
Singing a song or playing a wind instrument could be a pleasant solution to your snoring issues, according to Kent Smith, D-ABDSM, ASBA, DDS, founder of Sleep Dallas, and president of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. He tells Reader’s Digest, “Commonly, snoring is caused by flaccid muscles in the back of the throat. If someone is motivated, learning to play a wind instrument can strengthen these muscles. The didgeridoo even has some research behind it. Singing can also strengthen the muscles, so if you enjoy singing and your housemate can tolerate it, find time to do this daily.”
Treat seasonal allergies
If allergies bother you during the day, they might also be the cause of your snoring. Dr. Smarr explains, “If the cause of snoring is inflammation of the airway (often caused by smoking or allergies) you can alleviate this by controlling the allergies medically.”
Use a good pillow
Michelle Fishburg, co-founder and CEO of Slumbr, says the secret to saying goodbye to snoring is in the pillow you use. She tells Reader’s Digest, “As a pillow expert, I will never make the claim that a pillow can cure snoring. And you likely don’t need a gimmicky snoring-specific pillow either. However, snorers should ensure their pillow is properly supporting their head and neck and not inadvertently exacerbating the snoring. A good pillow should help keep your head, neck, and spine in neutral alignment—meaning your head is not pushed too far back or forward—to ensure you’re keeping your airways open in your throat. If you’re a positional snorer, use a pillow that is high and thick enough to fill the neck space between your head and the mattress.”
Here’s a guide to the best pillow for every type of sleeper.
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