Do you snore at night?
Don’t feel embarrassed about it, according to the American Sleep Association, around 48% of people report that they do snore. And that is only the ones that we know about.
If you are single or you live alone, you are probably not going to realize that this is an issue for you.
Snoring on its own is not such a big deal for most people – it’s not great for those that they live with, though. However, snoring could be a precursor to a more serious condition – sleep apnea.
With sleep apnea, you wake up several times during the night because the airways become obstructed and you cannot breathe. You are not going to remember this, but it does keep you from getting a restorative night’s rest.
You become sleep-deprived and much less able to focus or remember things. It can also play havoc with your moods and end up leaving you feeling frazzled.
And, if you have a partner that is kept awake at night by your snoring, they become pretty cranky as well. At some point, they are bound to have thought about smothering you in your sleep to get you to stop.
I know, I have been there. The only thing that stopped me was knowing that pillow fibers would be found in my partner’s throat.
Whether for your sake, or your partner’s, you are going to need the snoring to stop. Unfortunately, it is not something that will go away without any lifestyle changes.
Luckily, there are plenty of aids that you can use to help reduce the snoring or possibly even eliminate it altogether. We’ll go over the top five in this post.
What Causes Snoring?
It is all to do with your airways. When you go to sleep, the muscles and tissues in your tongue, soft palate and throat relax. As they relax, they cause a partial obstruction of the airway.
As you breathe in and out, the muscles and tissues vibrate causing the sound commonly associated with snoring.
That is why snoring is usually worse for those sleeping on their backs – more of the airway becomes blocked.
But I didn’t snore before?
Snoring can be a problem that develops later in life, or it could be something that starts when you are young. It just depends on what has caused the snoring to start with. Some causes include:
The Anatomy: You could naturally have a soft palate that is thicker and that naturally restricts the airways more. Your tonsils might be getting in the way, or you may have adenoids. The uvula might also be longer than normal.
Nasal Issues: If there are any deformities in the nasal system, like a deviated septum, you might be more prone to snoring. Anything that might reduce the airflow in the nose puts you at greater risk as you breathe through your mouth.
You are Overweight: This can be a big issue for those who snore. The flabbier the tissues in the neck and throat, the higher the risk is that you will be snoring.
Sleep Deprivation: This sounds like a little bit of a weird one. You cannot sleep properly because you snore, but you snore because you are tired. It’s a vicious cycle. When you do eventually fall asleep, you will drop into a deep sleep quickly. The deeper the sleep, the more your muscles and tissues relax.
A Medical Condition: This is why you should consider having a medical checkup if the soring becomes an issue. As mentioned above, this could be an indication of sleep apnea, but it could also be as a result of colds, or allergies.
The Simple Mechanics: If you sleep on your back, you are more likely to snore. If you drink alcohol before going to bed, you might relax faster and be prone to snoring.
The 5 Best Snoring Aids
There are many different home remedies for snoring. We have narrowed these down to the top five based on their effectiveness and safety. The method that you choose will depend on what is causing the problem in the first place.
Here are five popular snoring aids. How effective each one will be will often depend on what specifically is causing you to snore. So, it may require a bit of trial and error to find the right one for you.
These are designed to fit into your mouth and keep your airways clear. They will either usually hold your tongue in position so that it cannot fall back while you are asleep, or push your jaw forward a little to keep the airway open.
These are usually very effective as long as you choose a good brand. They do take some getting used to and can cause a little pain initially as you adjust to your jaw moving forward.
You can buy these over the counter, or have them prescribed by a specialist. The former is not quite as expensive, but the fit might not be as snug as you would like. The home devices need to be softened in warm water before you use them the first time.
This makes it possible for them to be molded to the shape of your teeth. A specialist, will have a guard made exactly to the specifications of your mouth.
Which is better? Both work well; it will just depend on your own personal budget. Usually, the difference in fit is not worth the extra money that you need to spend at a specialist.
The two different mouthpieces that you get are as follows:
- Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD for short): These are the ones that work by pushing the bottom jaw forward a little to keep the airway open. These are highly effective but might be a little painful to use at first. These are not recommended for those with dental issues. The Zquiet range is a great example of these.
- Tongue Stabilizing Devices: These work by holding your tongue down. They have a restraining bridge that keeps the tongue in place so that it does not fall back while you are sleeping. The Good Morning Snoring Solution is an excellent example of one of these.
2. Anti-Snoring Pillows
These are designed to make it easier to keep the airways open, no matter what position you are sleeping in. These are basically a more comfortable version of the old ball in the pajamas remedy.
For that trick, two or three tennis balls are sewed into the back of your pajamas. It is effective but can be uncomfortable because if you roll onto your back, the balls will hurt you and you will roll over onto your side again.
For some people, the trick works, for others, not so much. An anti-snoring pillow is a better way to go, but you do have to choose yours carefully.
We recommend trying the Smart Nora anti-snoring pillow insert.
The anti-snoring pillow is designed with neck support being prioritized. The idea is that by getting your neck position right, your airways will naturally stay open.
Most of these devices are made from foam and feature a contoured design with one side higher than the other. This is to make it easier for both back and side sleepers. The higher loft on one side is better for side sleepers while back sleepers need the shorter side.
Memory foam and latex foam are popular materials here because they retain their shape well and are comfortable. A soft pillow is a bad idea when you are a snorer because it does not provide adequate support in every position.
An anti-snoring cushion, on the other hand, will give you decent support no matter how much you move around at night.
The Smart Nora is a great example of one of these cushions.
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils are extracted from living plants, capturing their healing compounds. In nature, plants produce these compounds in order to help them thrive and fight off disease. It is something that can be useful for people as well.
In this case, you would use the essential oils to clear up any congestion. The best two oils to use for this purpose are eucalyptus and peppermint oil. The eucalyptus can be used just before bed, but the peppermint should be reserved for the early morning or afternoon as it stimulates the mind.
You will battle to fall asleep if you sniff peppermint oil just before bedtime.
These are easy to use. All you need to do is to take an aromatherapy burner or diffuser and diffuse a few drops of either oil, or both together. Sit in the room for around about half an hour to get the best benefits.
If a burner or diffuser is not a good option for you, then you can put a few drops on a tissue and sniff that periodically throughout the day. Store the tissue in an airtight container to keep the oil’s scent fresh and just open the container and take a whiff when you need to.
You can also try adding a drop or two of each to your bathwater at night to help ease muscle aches as well as congestion. It is important to only use a few drops here as the oils are very concentrated and can burn the skin if applied in too high a concentration.
Essential oils help treat snoring the natural way.
Another very effective method to use if you are all blocked up is to take a bowl of hot water, drop in a few drops of the oil, and lean over the bowl. Drape a towel over your head to trap the steam and then breathe in deeply.
Stay like this for a couple of minutes or until you start to feel the nasal passages start to clear.
Both peppermint and eucalyptus oils have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and so they will kill off germs in the air as well as clearing up congestion.
There are many companies that use these ingredients in sprays, etc. Just make sure that they have used therapeutic grade essential oils. If you are buying the oils yourself, do the same.
It can be useful as well to mix in the oils with a plain aqueous cream or an oil like Sweet Almond oil and rub this on the chest to alleviate congestion. Use a concentration of at most three percent to prevent irritation to the skin.
Oils should be used with care on young children. Children under the age of ten weeks should never be exposed to essential oils. Eucalyptus oil in a very weak concentration can be used from this time onwards.
Peppermint oil is too strong though and should be reserved for children over the age of six years.
4. Chin Straps
If you cannot stand the idea of sleeping with something in your mouth, this might be a solution that is more appealing to you. The chin strap holds your jaw in place so that your mouth stays closed and your chin stays in the ideal position.
This means that it helps you breathe through your nose, and this helps to reduce the problem. It also means that you strap it on over your chin and around the back of your head. That is not going to suit everyone because it is quite restrictive.
It is also not going to work if you have a blocked nose because then you are not going to be able to breathe at all. It will also take some getting used to, but most users say that this does not take too long.
5. CPAP Machines
These are usually prescribed for those who have obstructive sleep apnea. These are machines that you hook up to at night. You will need to wear a mask while you sleep.
The machine pumps air through to you and this, in turn, creates enough air pressure in the throat to stop your airway from collapsing. You, therefore, don’t stop breathing during the night
Well, you wear a pressurized mask over your nose or mouth as you sleep. The mask is attached to a CPAP machine, which pumps forces through your airway.
The increase of air pressure in the throat keeps the airway from collapsing which keeps the airway open.
CPAP machines represent a more substantial investment than the other methods, but if you have sleep apnea, they could end up saving your life.
It will take an adjustment period to get used to the mask and the noise that the machine makes. They will, however, stop your snoring dead in its tracks.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Stop Snoring
In addition to using one of the above-mentioned methods, it is advisable that you also start implementing lifestyle changes to help reduce the severity of symptoms over the long term.
These are not quick fixes and might not cure the problem completely, but they will certainly make a big difference.
Sing for Your Supper
Singing is useful for toning the muscles in your neck. The more toned these muscles are, the less likely they are to relax far enough to close off your airway. So, belt off your favorite tunes in the shower and have fun.
You can also Google, “Anti-snoring exercises” or “Singing exercises” to find out what practical exercises you can do to help tone your throat. Classical singers strengthen their voices using these exercises, but they work just as well for snorers.
So, why not give it a shot for yourself and see whether or not it works for you?
This is not a guarantee, but it is a known fact that adding pounds can add extra decibels when you are sleeping. The more tissue there is, the more there is to vibrate and the louder the sound that is created will be.
Added to which, doing a little exercise every day is a great way to relieve stress and help you sleep better at night. Just make sure that you don’t do any exercise within three to four hours before bedtime because it revs up your metabolism.
Cut the Drinking Before You Go to Sleep
You want to relax and unwind from a tough day at the office. There is nothing wrong with having a drink or two. Just make sure that you don’t get blind drunk and pass out.
Like with exercise, you should not drink any alcohol in the three-four hours before bedtime. Some people feel that alcohol relaxes them and helps them sleep better. This is not entirely accurate.
While you feel more relaxed, and can fall asleep faster, you don’t stay asleep as long as you should.
Do you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow? Do you have trouble waking up in the morning? These are indications that you are sleep deprived. You should take around fifteen minutes to drop off to sleep and should be able to wake without an alarm.
If you cannot do these things, then you could be sleep deprived and need more sleep. Stop trying to be a hero and get to bed earlier at night. Try going to bed fifteen minutes earlier for a few days and see if that makes a difference when you get up in the morning.
Add another fifteen minutes if you still cannot get up with the alarm and carry on doing so until you wake naturally at the right time. It can take a period of adjustment, but it will be helpful over the long term.
Another option is to take a short, twenty-minute nap around midday if you can. This can help you to catch up on your sleep without interfering with your sleep cycle.
The next thing to do is to set up a good sleep regime. Follow the same routine every night before bed so that your body understands that it is time to start winding down. Make sure that your room is dark, quiet, not too hot and not too cold.
Fix the time that you have to get up every morning and stick to that every day, including weekends. Sleeping in later might seem to make sense, but it will disrupt your normal sleeping cycles so rather get up at your normal time and soldier on.
Let’s get gross here for a second. While you are sleeping and throughout the day, the mucous membranes in the nose and sinuses have to secrete mucus to keep everything properly hydrated.
The thicker these secretions are, the more likely it is that they will cause congestion and so block the airways.
What does water have to do with it? If you are not drinking enough water, these membranes are not able to dilute the secretions as well as they should.
In general, though, water is essential to every cell in our bodies, and for your overall well-being, you should be getting enough in. This means drinking at least eight glasses a day.
How do you know if you are dehydrated? If you drink because you are feeling thirsty, it means that you need more water. And, much to many people’s disgust, plain water is best.
The water in normal tea and coffee does not count because there are natural diuretics in both. Plain water is something that you can quickly get in the habit of drinking, and it is something that just requires a bit of planning.
Get yourself a bottle of water and keep it on your desk. On the hour, every hour, drink a glass. It is a quick and easy way of instilling the habit of drinking water.
Surgery should always be seen as an absolute last resort. While it may seem like a more permanent solution, it may not always solve the problem. There are risks whenever you go under anesthetic and surgery is not cheap.
It may be all that is open to you if you have tried everything else though.
What it boils down to is that snoring does not have to be a life sentence. There are a lot of tools that you can use to minimize the problem. Lifestyle changes can be tremendously helpful as well, so there is no need to give up hope.