What is snoring and why do we do it?
The act of snoring occurs when air cannot freely flow through your airways during sleep. Air struggles to pass through the airways and rattles against the tissue in both your nose and throat. This results in the sound of snoring. Everybody can snore, as some of us snore occasionally, after heavy drinking, or when we have a stuffy nose. The obstructions or narrowing of airways can result from different causes. Your breathing tissues may be relaxed from al*ohol, you might have enlarged tonsils, or there could be some fatty tissue from obesity that is narrowing down the airways.
However, those who snore regularly, something more serious can be the problem behind it. Usually, snoring is misinterpreted as a symptom of some kind of a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. People also think that it can occur with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions.
Snoring is not bad only for your health. If you sleep next to your partner and keep awake with your snoring, your relationship may suffer.
So, what is a snorer supposed to do then? The first step is to understand the cause behind the snoring, after which you can treat it by utilizing some life changes, medical treatments, or medical treatments.
How do you know if you snore?
For most people, it comes a shocking piece of information from someone sleeping close to them, or even in another room. If you live alone, you might snore and not know it.
You are able to self-diagnose the potential snoring if you have any of the following symptoms:
Waking up with a headache or a dry mouth, feeling tired during the day, waking up suddenly during the night suddenly, potentially followed by wheezing, gasping or coughing, or getting cavities or other dental issues.
It is possible that you snore if you experience any of these symptoms. It is smart to start a sleep diary. Write down when you sleep and when you wake up, your diet, activities, and any suspicious symptoms. These can all help your doctor to determine the diagnosis.
Causes of snoring
Most usual causes of snoring include obesity, pregnancy, being male, age, swelling of tonsils or adenoids, large soft palate or uvula, nasal injuries or deformities, sinus congestion due to illness or allergies, medication side effects, alcohol, smoking, sleeping on your back, or sleep apnea.
How to stop snoring
Depending on the cause, there are different strategies that are effective at stopping snoring and lowering its volume.
Some of these include simple lifestyle changes and sleeping on your sides. Your neck and spine should be aligned, in order for the airways to remain open.
You should also pay attention to your diet, and not eat heavy meals before going to bed. Have dinner several hours before sleeping at least. Regular exercise also helps. As it strengthens the muscles, they will be able to stay open longer and better while you sleep.
Try various anti-snoring exercises to increase your neck and throat muscles, like pursuing your lips for 30 seconds while your mouth is closed, or saying vowels out-loud for 3 minutes. In addition, try shifting your jaw from side to side while holding your mouth open. Keep it for 30 seconds on each side. Lastly, put your tongue against your top front teeth, and slide it back alongside the ridge for 3 minutes.
Stop smoking and avoid alcohol, while increasing your daily water intake. Review the medication you take for some hidden side effects just in case and do not take sleeping pills.
If such lifestyle changes do not appear to be working for you, you can always invest in some of the following products:
A humidifier for your bedroom – It keeps the air moist, which prevents air from drying out your nasal membranes.
Air purifier with a HEPA filter – For allergic rhinitis, as it will clear the bedroom air of allergens.
Anti-snoring mouthpiece – Specially constructed by dentists to pull your tongue forward, and keep the lower jaw in a forward position.
Nasal vents – Like earplugs, but for your nose, to keep the nostrils open.
Anti-snoring nasal strips – They flatten your nose, opening up your nostrils.
Anti-snoring wedge pillows – Designed to keep your head in the ideal position.
Anti-snoring pajamas – They keep you in a side-sleeping position, lowering snoring potential.
A nasal rinse with saline – This clears the airways if you have nasal congestion from allergies or illness.
Over-the-counter nasal decongestants – These relieve snoring during a cold and free up nasal congestion.
Medical treatment for snoring
If nothing works, the only thing left to try is one of these medical treatments:
CPAP therapy – The most effective treatment against sleep apnea. You will first get a sleep study and are then diagnosed. The sleep doctor fits you for a CPAP machine, a device connected by a tube to a facemask you wear while sleeping. The machine delivers air pressure through the tube, keeping your airways open.
Various anti-snoring surgical procedures are an option, addressing specific airway areas that cause snoring:
Septoplasty realigns the septum.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3) opens up your throat by removing the uvula and a part of the soft palate.
Uvuloplasty removes the uvula.
Somnoplasty uses heat to shrink throat tissues and widen airways.
Tonsillectomy removes enlarged tonsils or adenoids. This is a common procedure for children.
Snoring and relationships
If you share the bed with a partner or share your home with some roommates, your snoring can make holes in your relationships. People tent to get grumpy very easily when they are tired and cannot sleep, especially when they see and know it is the person next to them ruining their night while they themselves are sleeping. Couples then tend to sleep in separate beds or rooms, leading to less intimacy, when the relationships start to suffer.
You will have to address the problem with the people whom you bother with snoring. Find a solution together. Patience and understanding is key. Help your partner fall asleep first, so that they do not have to listen to your snoring. While they are getting used to it all, suggest earplugs.
How to accept complaints about your snoring
If they approach you about your snoring, it is normal to feel hurt, defensive, embarrassed, or all of the above. However, do not take it personally. Your partners and roommates care about you and your health, and they understand that you do not do it voluntarily. It is not a personality trait, and everyone knows it.
Stick to your established plan to put an end to your snoring, and ask them for any advice or help. If you commit to lifestyle changes or invest in some of the various anti-snoring products, it is more likely that you will stop snoring for good.