I used to snore. Loudly. Or so I was told. I know what it is to be the person looked at with scorn every morning, or told to roll over, or even given a swift elbow in the middle of the night. My father used to snore loudly as well. He got a surgery to fix his deviated septum to help him breathe, taste, and stop snoring. I haven’t lived with him for a while, so I don’t know if he snores anymore or not. I had my tonsils and my uvula removed, and I’ve been told that helped, too. And that’s just the thing, most people who snore don’t know they snore unless someone else is sleeping with them, leaving many cases of sleep apnea untreated.
What’s worse? People who snore, but live alone, are less likely to be successfully diagnosed with a very serious sleep related disorder associated with a greater risk of heart attack and stroke: sleep apnea. So, you’re probably wondering, “How do I stop snoring?” I shall begin by detailing the five most common techniques for treating a loud snore, including: weight loss, dietary/lifestyle changes, physical therapy, medicinal snoring treatments and snoring aids.
Causes of Snoring
The causes of snoring are not few and far between, nor is anything considered a conclusive cause of snoring, but here is a short list of the most common causes:
- Aging & Obesity
- Allergies & Sinus Infections
The actual physical causes of snoring include: a large soft palate, inflammation of the mucous membranes, and constricting pressure or blockage of the airways/throat, which cause softer tissue to vibrate as air passes over them. The greater the blockage, the louder the snore.
There are two types of sleep apnea, and snoring is often a symptom associated with both: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS). If you notice that your sleeping partner tends to gasp for air after loud fits of snoring, or they pause between breaths for extended periods of time (1-2 minutes), you should have your partner see a sleep specialist.
How to Stop Snoring
If you want to stop snoring or get rid of a loud snore, your doctor is going to tell you to lose weight. But only if you’re overweight in the first place. Studies done on obese sleepers have concluded that the results of losing weight have unpredictable effects on whether a person snores more or less; some people actually snored more after losing weight. The thing is, your doctor is going to tell you to lose some weight regardless of whether you’re snoring or not because of the obvious health benefits of being less fat. So there.
In the fight against snoring, drinking and smoking are your enemies. Smoking tobacco tends not only to make it harder for you to breathe and get oxygen into your system, but it inflames your sinuses, increasing the chances that you will snore during the night. Alcohol, on the other hand, tends to relax your muscles and those tissues found in the back of your throat, increasing the chances that you will snore–and snore loudly. Stay away from cigarettes and beer if you want to stop snoring.
A very common and effective snoring remedy is called positional therapy. Generally speaking, people snore less when they are not sleep in the supine position (illustrated to your right). Sleeping on your back allows your soft palate and uvula to relax into the back of your throat, obstructing your breathing pathways. By sleeping on your side, or in a prone position, you relieve some of the pressure put on your airways, allowing air to flow more freely, simultaneously reducing the volume of your snoring.
Snoring aids and snoring devices like the external nasal dilator are also quite effective if snoring is caused by obstructed nasal pathways. These sorts of snoring devices are good alternatives to shoving medicine up your nose and you don’t need a prescription to get one. Perhaps the most common snoring device is the nose strip, a piece of flexible plastic with adhesives that stick to the sides of your nose and pull your nostrils apart.
Snoring treatments like a nasal decongestant spray will help stop snoring caused by rhinitis or inflamed sinuses.I wouldn’t recommend using a non-steroidal nasal spray to reduce inflammation. You’re going to need to see a doctor to get a prescription for a steroid nasal inhaler. The theory here is that some snoring can be caused by inflamed mucous membranes or even a slight sinus infection. Nasal inhalers use safe steroids to reduce that inflammation and open up your sinuses to allow air to flow more freely, which should stop your snoring.
There are several medical treatments to help stop snoring, but they’re usually reserved for people with severe snoring issues, or people who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The surgeries used to target undue snoring include:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is simply a tightening of the soft palate and surrounding tissues that cause snoring when they relax during the night.
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngopasty is not just tightening of the palate, but also a removal of the uvula–that little thing that dangles from the roof of your mouth. The great thing about laser-assisted UPPP is that it’s an outpatient treatment, so you’re not stuck in the hospital for days.
- Somnoplasty is a relatively new procedure involving lower radio frequencies directed at the soft palate, causing it to scar. Scar tissue, as most of us know, is particularly fibrous, and it is this fibrous tissue that will firm up your palate and stop your snoring.
Either way you look at surgeries designed to stop snoring, you’re going to get plasty’d. That’s a fact. That’s what happened to me, and I couldn’t be (sleeping) happier.
The only other prescription medication used to cure snoring is called Protriptyline, but because of protriptyline’s rather undesirable (and common) side effects, it’s use as a snore treatment is rare.
Natural Snoring Cures
Avoid sedatives if you want to stop yourself from snoring so loudly. Sedatives relax muscles and tissues that obstruct your airways, causing even louder snoring that normal. Sure, sedatives will help you sleep more soundly, but it’s the person in bed next to you I would worry about, Honkers.
Treat your allergies because inflamed sinuses and subsequent sinus infections can only contribute to louder and more frequent snoring. Nasal inhalers that contain natural antihistamines are a good alternative to the commercial steroid nasal inhalers like Nasonex.
Try a Snore Pillow if you want to get rid of your snoring. Snore pillows are specially designed to make sleeping on your side or in the prone position more comfortable, decreasing the chances that you will roll over onto your back.
Dental devices are becoming more popular. Most are designed like retainers to keep your soft palate from flapping around so much. Other dental devices promote proper airflow from the front of your mouth to the back of your throat by adjusting or restricting tongue movement as well.