SNORING. It can be freight train loud, kitten purr soft, scary, and in some cases, endearing. It can take you back to the warmth of childhood early morning snuggles with parents or memories of giggling at grandparents nodding off on the couch with a vigorous snort. Unfortunately, as an adult, it can also take its toll on your health, whether you’re the snorer or subjected to a snorer’s not-so-sweet lullaby all night, every night.…
As we head into the summer season, this often means bunking in on holidays with extended family or friends, shared spaces, and in some cases, pulling the short straw, sleeping near a snorer! Read on to find out what causes snoring and some ways to try to prevent it in yourself, a loved one (or not-so-loved ones at the end of Christmas bunk-ins or holidays!) A little help for more peaceful nights for all!
Snoring is known to cause sleep deprivation to snorers and those around them, which can lead to daytime drowsiness, irritability, lack of focus, and decreased libido. Most snoring issues are generally caused by restricted airflow at the back of the throat. This happens when we’re asleep because the jaw muscles at the back of the throat go slack, so the lower jaw and tongue generally fall back, constricting the airway. As air moves through the limited space, in some people, it causes the soft tissues of the throat to vibrate, causing the familiar snoring sound! When we get to the bottom of why we (or those we cohabitate with) snore, it is easier to find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep.
You can begin by enlisting a partner, friend, or family member to keep a ‘sleep diary’ to help you discover the possible causes of your snoring. It is crucial to note the different ways you or your bed buddy sleep and the correlations to snoring. Sleep positions reveal a lot, and figuring out how one snores can reveal why one snores. When you know the why, you can get closer to a cure. Here are some different types of snoring;
Closed mouth snoring: May indicate a problem with the tongue.
Open-mouth snoring: May be related to the tissues in your throat, suggesting an infection.
Sleeping on back snoring: Causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.
Snoring in all sleep positions: Can mean snoring is more severe, and may require a more comprehensive treatment.
Here are some other possible causes;
Structure: Men have narrower air passages than women and are therefore more likely to snore. Other physical attributes that contribute to snoring can be hereditary, such as a narrow throat, a cleft palate, or enlarged tonsils due to tonsillitis.
Nasal and sinus problems: Blocked airways make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, which can lead to snoring.
Being overweight or out of shape: Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone in and around the throat contribute to snoring. Loss of muscle tone enables more vibration of the airways as one breathes, causing snoring even if you are only in a very light sleep.
Use of relaxants: Such as alcohol or drugs, both of which relax the throat muscles too much.
Tips to reduce the propensity to snore:
- Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
- Eat a balanced diet and don’t overeat, particularly in the evening
- Exercise regularly
- Drink plenty of water; this can include herbal tea
- Avoiding smoke or being around smoke
- Limit or avoid alcohol, particularly close to bedtime
- Don’t eat a large meal at night
Natural Snoring Remedies
There is no one-size-fits-all “cure” for snoring, but some cheap and easy things to try include the following;
- Sleeping on your side
- Raising the head of your bed (using more pillows works in this case)
- Treating chronic allergies (using herbal remedies or antihistamines, for example)
- Trying an external nasal dilator or nasal strips
- Using an oral appliance (mandibular adjustment device)
- While an investment, seeing a naturopath or nutritionist can assist, as they can look at dietary and lifestyle factors that could be modified to assist.
- An Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist can also help in some cases. They can help to determine the cause of snoring and recommend appropriate treatment options. Treatment for snoring may include lifestyle changes, oral appliances, or in some cases, surgery.
Getting to the bottom of snoring can be complex and quite literally, tiring! Use this general guide as a starting point…or a conversation starter with Uncle Boris, whose freight train snore rattles those notoriously thin bach walls!