By Bernice Alhassan.
Snoring is an embarrassing condition and can be a real nuisance to the people around you. As a matter of fact, if you are a snorer, you are probably the only one in your household who gets enough sleep at night. Before knowing how to stop or at least manage snoring, it is necessary to first diagnose the underlying cause of it. Several issues could be responsible and these include weight gain, sleeping face up, old age, weak throat muscles, use of narcotics, congested nasal passage, smoking and pregnancy to mention the common ones.
However, snoring can be an indicator of a more severe sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Unfortunately, 75% of adults who snore do have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disturbed during sleep for brief periods) which increases the risk of developing heart disease. That said, if you find yourself awakening at night because you are unable to breathe, you should get yourself checked by a medical specialist.
In order to address snoring, bear in mind that there isn’t just one cure for snoring that is applicable to everyone. People snore for different reasons and each reason has a different method with which to fight it. Sometimes however, it could take a combination of methods to get rid of your snoring. So just before you give up on yourself, here are a few tips to help you manage your snoring:
1. Change your sleep position: Lying on your back makes your throat muscles relax and this can block your airway thereby causing a vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side may help prevent this. An easy way to circumvent this is by taping a sock stuffed with a tennis ball to the back of your shirt. The discomfort caused by the ball prevents you from rolling onto your back while asleep. Also, a body pillow (a full length pillow that supports your whole body) could provide an easy fix. It enables you to maintain sleeping on your side and can make a dramatic difference. Sleeping with your upper body slightly elevated can also make breathing easier as it takes pressure off your airway.
2. Drop a few pounds if you need to: If you gained weight and then started to snore, weight loss may help. Excessive weight, especially around the neck can squeeze the internal diameter of the throat and place pressure on the chest thereby hindering the smooth passage of air and causing an increase in snoring. Being obese is also a common risk factor for sleep apnea. A remedy therefore, if you are carrying a bit too much weight, would be to drop a few pounds. Losing a little of that fatty tissue may just be all it takes to stop snoring.
3. Monitor your diet: Have a close look at your dietary intake. Scrutinize what you eat and when you eat it. An even better approach to this would be to keep a comprehensive food diary for a few weeks as well as looking at what you eat. Compare it with your snoring levels for that particular day. You may need your roomie’s help with this, even if they have to give you a score out of 10, with 10 being “snoring like a freight train”, each morning. This is needed to determine if you may have intolerance to certain foods. An instance of this is dairy foods, which produce excess mucus, and may lead to nasal congestion. If you can determine that certain foods may be the causes of snoring, you will be able to eliminate them from your diet completely and thus significantly reduce your problem of snoring.
4. Avoid alcohol, sedatives and smoke before bed time: Alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. A study even suggests that drinking alcohol four to five hours before sleeping could make snoring worse. On the other hand, smoke irritates the membranes of your nose and throat. This leads to a blocked airway. So if you want to stop snoring, stop smoking and drinking, particularly before bed time.
5. Use nasal strips: Nasal strips can actually come in handy for a person who snores. These strips are adhesive and are applied to the nose in a manner that helps to keep the nasal passages open for the duration of the night. These do work for a lot of people, however long term use is not advisable as they can get costly and make you evade the root cause of the problem which as earlier stated may be more serious.
Remember, spotting the reason for your snoring is as important as finding a cure for it. If your snoring is caused by sedatives, losing weight isn’t going to solve the problem. Whatever it may be, it’s time you try out some of these tips to end snoring – or you might find yourself relegated to the living-room couch!