The chances are, you or your partner has probably snored at some point. Snoring is an extremely common condition that is caused when the muscles in the throat relax as you sleep. Cases can vary from very mild, infrequent episodes to louder, more regular snoring. The good news is, there are plenty of simple ways you can help to reduce or even eliminate the problem altogether. First though, you will need to identify what is causing you to snore and what treatment options are available. If you want to achieve a more peaceful and restful sleep, read on to find out more.
Why do we snore?
There are lots of different reasons why people snore. When we sleep, our airways relax and become narrower, which affects the air pressure and causes the soft tissues in the throat, nose and mouth to vibrate. Some of the people who snore have throat or nasal tissue abnormalities that make their soft tissues more susceptible to vibration. Obstruction of the airways can also be caused by having a cold, swollen tonsils or asthma. In addition, we are more likely to snore as we get older because the muscle tone in the throat decreases.
Snoring can be made worse when using substances that cause your muscles to relax and slacken, such as drinking alcohol or taking sedative medication like sleeping pills. Some sleeping habits can also add to the problem. For example, sleeping on your back causes the flesh in your throat to compress, which can narrow the airways. Being overweight and smoking can also increase your chances of snoring.
Luckily, there are a variety of self-help treatments you can try that may help to reduce your snoring. Sometimes, all it takes is a few simple lifestyle changes to beat the problem. For example, cutting down on alcohol consumption, avoiding sedatives, stopping smoking and steering clear of late night snacks can all help to decrease your chances of snoring. If you are overweight, try to do regular exercise and eat a healthy diet to reduce fatty tissues and strengthen the muscles in your neck. There are also a variety of throat and mouth exercises that can be done to tone the muscles around your neck.
Making sure your bedroom is free from dust and mould can also reduce your risk of snoring, especially if you suffer from allergies. Regularly washing your bedding, hoovering and keeping pets out of the bedroom can help to get rid of allergens in your sleeping space. Some snorers find that using a humidifier while they sleep can help to keep the air moist and reduce irritation of the nose and throat caused by dry air.
For mild to moderate snorers, changing the way in which you sleep may also help. For example, sleeping on your side with your head slightly raised can reduce gravity’s pull on your neck and open up your airways for smoother breathing. It can also stop your tongue from falling back into your throat and encourage your jaw to move forward. An adjustable bed can be used to alter your sleeping position and elevate your head to help you achieve a more restful sleep.
If changes to your lifestyle or sleeping position don’t have any positive effects, there are also a variety of anti-snoring devices that can be used. For example, nasal strips or dilators widen the nasal passage and can be particularly beneficial for people with nasal congestion or nasal abnormalities. If the snoring originates from your mouth, you can use mouth guards which are designed to open your airways by bringing your lower jaw and tongue forward while you sleep. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the effectiveness of these products varies from person to person.
Medication can also be used to treat some of the underlying causes of snoring. For example, if you suffer from nasal irritation and swelling (medically referred to as allergic rhinitis), you can use an antihistamine nasal spray to alleviate your symptoms and help you breathe more freely. Nasal decongestants may also help if you are suffering from a blocked nose, although they should not be used as a long-term method of treatment.
When to see a GP
While not usually considered a serious health risk, regular snoring can disturb your and your partner’s quality of sleep and have a knock on effect on your daily life. Poor sleep can lead to tiredness during the day, have a negative impact on your mood and increase your risk of developing a number of serious health problems, such as heart disease.
If you feel that your health is at risk and your snoring is hindering your ability to get a good night’s rest or causing problems in your relationship, you should make an appointment with your GP. You should also consult a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms such as headaches, poor memory, mood swings, depression, anxiety or loss of libido. Some snorers may also be suffering from a more serious related medical condition called sleep apnoea, which can affect your breathing and cause you to wake up regularly during the night. If your condition is serious, your doctor may recommend surgery - although this is only usually considered as a last resort when self-help techniques haven’t work.
If you think that the medication you are taking is making your snoring worse, your GP may be able to prescribe you an alternative treatment.
Trial and error
Remember, not every type of treatment will be effective for every person and a complete cure is not always possible. However, by experimenting with a variety of self-help techniques and various anti-snoring products, you should be able to reduce your risk of snoring and enjoy a more peaceful night’s sleep. Ultimately, this is good news for your overall health and wellbeing.
For more information on how our range of adjustable beds can help to tackle snoring, browse our website further or get in touch with our friendly and professional team.