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Understanding why people snore, can help you stop snoring. A major contributing factor to snoring is breathing through your mouth, rather than through your nose when asleep. Sleeping on your back can make the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep.
How do I stop snoring?
Many couples try earplugs, nose clips and any number of quack fixes, so desperate are they both for a good night’s sleep. Some take that relationship-threatening next step of sleeping in different beds, and even different bed rooms. At The SleepGP, we want to help snorers avoid that situation.
Many snorers have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) – but not all. Similarly many OSA sufferers snore – but not all. Its complex to diagnose and manage, that’s why we strongly suggest that you seek the advice of your GP, and ultimately a referral to a SleepGP, in case there could be an underlying medical condition.
Change your sleep position
Snoring is almost invariably worse when supine – when sleeping on your back. A body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports your entire body) may provide an easy fix. It can assist you to maintain sleeping on your side which can make a dramatic difference.
Some people try taping a tennis ball to the back of their pyjamas to stop them sleeping on your back, but a more reliable alternative for repositioning one’s body is a Positional Device (available from The SleepGP).
Open nasal passages
If snoring starts in your nose, keeping nasal passages open may help. If your nose is clogged or narrowed due to a cold or other blockage, fast-moving air drawn through the resulting narrower opening is more likely to produce snoring.
A hot shower before bed, and rinsing the nose out using a plastic bottle of salty water to squirt up the nasal passage can help.
Nasal decongestants from the pharmacy may help, and nasal strips may also work to lift nasal passages and open them up — if the problem exists in your nose and not within the soft palate.
National statistics on OSA
Reliable statistics on the prevalence of OSA in Australia are difficult to obtain. Occurrence varies widely across demographics, and OSA has only recently received significantly funded studies. Some studies indicate that around one in ten Australians suffer from OSA. A 2016 study found that:
- 2% of people aged 18-25 are diagnosed with OSA.
- 8% of people aged 45-55 are diagnosed with OSA.
However, statistical estimates for people who remain undiagnosed present significantly higher numbers. For example:
- Up to 49% of males aged 40-69 may suffer from OSA.
- Up to 62% of males older than 70 may suffer from OSA.
Eat well and lose weight
Weight loss may help some people reduce their snoring, but not everyone. Some thin people also snore!
If you have gained weight and started snoring and did not snore before you gained weight, it is quite likely that weight loss may help. Extra weight around the neck squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep, and this can trigger snoring.
Alcohol and sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, making it more likely you’ll snore. Drinking alcohol, especially in quantity, up to five hours before sleeping can make snoring worse as it relaxes the throat muscles. Often people who don’t normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.
Practice good sleep hygiene
Poor sleep habits (also known as poor sleep “hygiene”) can have an effect similar to that of drinking alcohol. Get regular sleep – working long hours without enough sleep can mean that when you finally go to bed you’re overtired. Because you are sleeping more deeply for longer, the throat muscles become more floppy which causes snoring.
Change your pillow and pillow cases
Allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow may contribute to snoring. Dust mites accumulate in pillows and can cause allergic reactions that can lead to snoring. Also, allowing pets to sleep on the bed causes you to breathe in animal dander, another common irritant.
A good test is if you lay down on your bed during the day and you feel fine, but your breathing feels obstructed at night, these things may be contributing to your snoring.
Put your pillows in the drier or give them a good fluff out in the sun once every couple weeks, and replace them every six months to keep dust mites and allergens to a minimum. Some petting in the bedroom can be a positive thing, but pets in the bedroom may not.