What Causes Snoring, and What You Can Do to Stop
Snoring is disruptive, but it can also be a sign of a serious health problem. If you or your partner snores, you should see a doctor to rule out or find underlying causes that need treatment. You can also try some simple strategies and lifestyle changes that help many people stop or reduce snoring.
What Causes Snoring?
The sound of snoring is a result of air moving past tissue in the throat. As you drift off to sleep, the soft palate, tongue, and throat relax. When the tissues are relaxed enough, they can block part of the airway and vibrate as air moves past them. This is snoring.
Sometimes snoring is simply a matter of anatomy. If you have a soft palate that is low and thick, it is more likely to block the airway when you sleep. A deviated nasal septum, which is when the partition between the nostrils is crooked, can cause chronic snoring too.
Being overweight may also lead to snoring because of extra tissue in the throat. Drinking too much alcohol before bed can trigger snoring because it relaxes the throat muscles. If you sleep on your back, the force of gravity makes it more likely that tissue will obstruct your airway, leading to snoring. Additionally, you’re more likely to snore if you have a cold or other illness that causes congestion.
For some people, snoring is caused by a serious condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing throughout the night. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, gasp and choke at night, and feel that you are very tired during the day.
Tips to Stop Snoring
Snoring can be a major issue, both for you and your partner. It may be preventing both of you from getting a good night’s sleep. Try these tips to reduce or stop snoring:
- If you’re overweight or out of shape, get active and try to lose weight. Start with low-impact exercise like walking or gentle stretching.
- Try sleeping on your side. If you tend to roll over on your back, put something behind you in bed like a stack of pillows to prevent you from sleeping on your back.
- Try raising your head up by about four inches. Special pillows are available that keep your head elevated and are designed to prevent snoring.
- Avoid alcohol and other sedatives before bed.
- Use nasal strips across the bridge of your nose. These open up the airways so you can breathe more easily at night.
- Keep a humidifier running in your bedroom if the air is dry. Dry air can irritate your airways, causing inflammation and restricting breathing.
If these tips don’t help you stop snoring, see your doctor. They can diagnose sleep apnea or find the anatomical cause of your snoring. You may need a special machine to keep you breathing at night or even surgery to correct the underlying cause of snoring.
Getting more and better quality sleep can also help you snore less. If you struggle with falling asleep at a reasonable time, try some of the meditations on BetterSleep. Regular meditation practice will relax you and prepare you for a better night’s sleep.
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