How to Stop Snoring

There are a number of basic steps you can take to stop snoring.  The first place to start is to find out if anything that makes your snoring better or worse.  Whether you sleep alone or with someone else, you might consider a smartphone applications (snoring apps) to measure how bad your snoring is.  It can be helpful to monitor any changes in your snoring as you make some of the changes listed below.

Below by Dr. Eric Kezirian

Ways to Stop Snoring Naturally:

  • Try not to sleep on your back.

    Some people toss and turn all night along, but snoring is often worse when you are sleeping on your back.  You can use pillows (like a bulky body pillow) to prevent you from rolling onto your back.  Some people prefer wearing a T-shirt at night with a pocket sewn on the middle of the back to hold two tennis balls and make it physically uncomfortable to sleep on your back.  There are also some new wearable devices that attempt to use vibration delivered only when someone is sleeping on their back, specifically designed for people suffering from positional snoring.

  • Weight loss.

    Weight gain can be a major factor in snoring.  Weight loss is always easier said than done, but it really can make a tremendous difference.  Since safe weight loss takes time, I will often have patients combine it with other steps that can improve their snoring more quickly.  When judging how much weight you need to lose, it is important to know that you may not need to get back to your ideal body weight, as even smaller amounts of weight loss can clear up snoring.

  • Breathing through your nose.

    Many people will snore when they breathe through their mouth while asleep.  Converting to breathing through the nose can just require breaking the habit of mouth breathing, but often people cannot make the change because they cannot breathe easily through their nose.  What I recommend is that people think about using an external nasal dilator like a Breathe Right® strip, especially if the sides of their nose (on the outside) collapse when they breathe in through their nose.   If someone has allergies (or even if they do not), they can also try a nasal corticosteroid spray that is now available over-the-counter.  If those do not work, it may be worth seeing a physician (such as an otolaryngologist) to determine why someone cannot breathe easily through their nose, as there are many good treatments available, depending on the cause.

  • Getting enough hours of sleep.

    People snore when they sleep but not while awake because when we sleep, the muscles in our body relax.  This muscle relaxation allows the muscles, especially the soft palate (back of the roof of the mouth), to vibrate and produce the sounds of snoring.  Deep sleep has more muscle relaxation than light sleep, making deep sleep a time of worsening in snoring.  While we all need deep sleep to feel well-rested, not getting enough hours of sleep pushes our body to want more deep sleep than we might have otherwise.  The result is that the snoring can be much worse.  The general health recommendations are for people to get 7-7.5 hours of sleep per night, and this is a good rule of thumb for people who snore as well.

  • Sleep study.

    Snoring can be a sign of a more-serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea Although most patients with obstructive sleep apnea also snore, the difference is that sleep apnea involves blockage of breathing in night.  It may be associated with health problems like high blood pressure or with disruption of sleep, leading to sleepiness and fatigue.  The standard approach for patients with loud snoring that wakes up others, especially if there are other signs of sleep apnea, is to get a sleep study that can determine if a patient has obstructive sleep apnea. There is an alternative to a traditional sleep study, where you need to consult your doctor, then sleep specialists and then arrange for an overnight appointment at a sleep lab. If you are concerned you can order a home sleep test and consult with a sleep specialist from the comforts of your own home, learn more.

Things to Avoid Because They Worsen Snoring

  • Smoking irritates the insides of the nose and throat, and this can worsen snoring in a couple of ways.  The most obvious is that swelling inside the nose can cause trouble breathing through the nose.  Smoking causes so many health problems, but snoring is one that should improve just a few weeks after you quit smoking.
  • Alcohol within 3-4 hours of going to bed. Alcohol causes muscles in your body to relax, and it can worsen your snoring and also disrupt your sleep.  Alcohol in moderation is not harmful, so most people do not need to avoid alcohol completely.  For people who snore, my general recommendation is to finish drinking at least 3 hours before going to bed so that alcohol has a chance to clear out of your system.
  • Sleeping pills. Many sleeping pills, including those that can be purchased over-the-counter, have a similar effect as alcohol.  It is always best to avoid them, if possible.  Benadryl® (diphenyhydramine) often also worsens the quality of your sleep, so it is especially unhelpful. Melatonin does not contain the same components.
  • Pillows that prop up your head too much to tilt it forward. A pillow that is very large or multiple pillows can tilt your head forward.  This can worsen snoring.  A soft pillow for your head is usually a good idea, but too much of a good thing can create problems.
  • Dehydration thickens the mucus in your throat and can lead to more snoring.  While you do not want to drink too much because that can force you to wake up to go to the bathroom, you also want to avoid drinking too little.  You will also want to avoid liquids that actually worsen dehydration, such as alcohol or caffeinated drinks.

How to Stop Snoring – Other Cures and Remedies that Work

Why do people snore?

By itself, snoring is mostly an annoyance to the bed partner. However, snoring may be a sign of more significant sleep disorders.

When we go to sleep the muscles in the back of the throat relax. These are the muscles that keep the airway patent. The smaller that the diameter of the airway becomes, the more resistance there is with airflow. This resistance causes noise – which is what we call snoring.

Do you snore? Find out from a snoring app.

So, how to stop snoring?

Well, first it depends on what is causing the snoring.

There are several potential causes of snoring, as well as factors that can make snoring worse. As mentioned, age is a variable. With advancing age comes an increased likelihood of snoring. Weight is also a powerful variable. The more you weigh, the more you snore.
Drinking alcohol generally makes snoring more frequent and louder.

Same with sleeping in the supine position – on your back.

So what can you do to stop snoring?:

  • Lose weight if overweight
  • Don’t drink alcohol (at least not after 5 pm.)
  • Try to sleep on your side

Treatments to Stop Snoring

There are several medical treatment options for snoring. These include:

There is some date to support the logic that head position relative to the neck may increase airway. There are also some experimental devices that suggest alleviation of snoring.

Most therapies that are advertise products on how to stop snoring are not well studied in large sample size, double-blinded research protocol.

Other treatments to stop snoring include:

See the above pages to find out more information about how to stop snoring.

Body Weight and Snoring

Snoring is on the same spectrum of sleep disordered breathing as sleep apnea. While most people who have obstructive sleep apnea snore, most people who snore do not have sleep apnea.  There is correlation between body weight, snoring and sleep apnea. In general, snoring and sleep apnea are associated with excess body weight. As BMI increases, there is increased association with decreased airway diameter. The decrease in airway diameter increased the turbulence and airway resistance that is associated with the snore noise. 

So, one way to reduce the risk of snoring and sleep apnea is to normalize body weight if overweight. By normalizing weight, airway diameter is improved, which reduces airway resistance and snoring. A normal-weight person will not likely improve snoring if weight is decreased.

Gadgets and Devices to Stop Snoring

There are many devices and gadgets that sold online that claim to stop snoring. Some of these may work. Some of them do not. Many make claims that are not substantiated by valid science. Your best bet is to talk to your physician about snoring devices.

There is sufficient data that demonstrates that some mandibular advancing devices (MAD’s), also call Jaw Advancing Devices or Mandibular Splint are effective at reducing or eliminating snoring. These are similar to the devices that are used for treating sleep apnea. The FDA regulates the sale of these devices in the United States. If considering one of these devices in the U.S., it is recommended to confirm that the device is FDA listed.

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At the time of this writing, snoring sprays, clips, and magnets do have have substantial evidence demonstrating their efficacy. There is very little evidence evaluating chinstraps or other over-the-face fabric devices.

There has been some research looking at body position influencing devices. For many, sleep in the supine position (back) is associated with more/louder snoring. Avoiding the back position may help some people to reduce snoring. Some have used tennis balls sewn into the back of t-shirts to prevent sleep in certain positions.

There are new digital snoring devices and snoring apps that are coming to market that evaluate snoring. Many use different mechanisms of actions.

With increasing interest in sleep and snoring, there are certain to be novel technologies developed to address this problem and to help stop snoring.

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