How To Stop Snoring
Why do I snore?
If you or your partner snore, you are not alone. Snoring affects 30 million people in the UK. There are 10.4 million males and 4.5 million females who snore. Snoring, and particularly loud and constant snoring, can ruin relationships and prevent you and your partner from getting a good night’s sleep.
There are many different factors that can contribute to snoring, including structural abnormalities in the nose, mouth, or throat, being overweight or obese, the use of alcohol or sedatives, allergies, aging, sleep position, and smoking. Often snoring worsens with age, as more tissue develops, and muscles weaken.
While snoring can be a minor annoyance for some people, it can also be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition, such as Sleep Apnoea. Here we explore the causes of snoring, answer some frequently asked questions, and look at the ways it can be treated so you and your partner can get back to having restful and restorative sleep.
What are the causes of snoring?
Snoring is the sound that occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in the throat, causing the tissues to vibrate as you breathe. Snoring can range from a mild, occasional sound to a loud, persistent noise that interferes with your sleep and the sleep of others.
The severity of your snoring can depend on the degree of relaxation in your throat muscles and the narrowness of your airway. Often illnesses such as a common cold can cause your snoring to worsen, as it can further restrict the airways.
What can make me more likely to snore?
Many factors can affect the severity of somebody’s snoring. They include:
- Weight – Being overweight or clinically obese can increase the amount of soft tissue around the throat. This increases the pressure on the throat during sleep, causing it to narrow further. Typically, a person who is obese, and/or has a neck size above 17 inches, are more likely to snore. Often, they will snore more loudly and more frequently than somebody of average weight.
- Smoking – Smoking causes inflammation in the airway, restricting the airflow and increasing the likelihood of snoring.
- Alcohol – Alcohol relaxes the muscles and makes the tissue in your throat and mouth more prone to vibrations.
- Allergies – Any allergy that results in rhinitis (runny nose) or sinusitis will cause the nasal passages to become inflamed. This restricts them, making snoring more likely.
- Age – Often snoring worsens with age, as more tissue develops, and muscles weaken.
- Pregnancy – The physical and hormonal changes in the body due to pregnancy can increase the likelihood of snoring.
- Sleeping position – Sleeping on your back makes you more likely to snore or experience apnoea’s (breathing pauses).
- Medications – Certain medications can relax your throat muscles, increasing your risk of snoring.
- Genetics – Snoring is not inherited but certain genetics can contribute to the development of snoring. For example, the anatomy of your mouth or sinuses.
Why don’t I snore when I am awake?
When you are awake, the muscles in your throat are more active and tense, which can help keep your airway open. As a result, the air flows more smoothly through your throat when you are awake, and you are less likely to snore.
However, when you sleep, your muscles relax, which can cause your airway to narrow or become blocked. This results in snoring.
How to stop snoring
There are plenty of natural ways to reduce or stop snoring. Here are a few things you can try:
- Sleep on your side: Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back of your throat, leading to snoring. Try sleeping on your side to see if it helps reduce your snoring.
- Lose weight: Being overweight can contribute to snoring, so losing weight may help reduce or eliminate your snoring.
- Avoid alcohol, smoking and caffeine: Alcohol, smoking and caffeine are sedatives that relax the muscles in your throat, which can lead to snoring. Avoiding these substances or taking them only in moderation may help reduce your snoring.
- Treat allergies: Allergies can cause congestion in your nose and throat, leading to snoring. Try using over the counter or prescription allergy medications to treat your allergies and reduce snoring.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach: Sleeping on your stomach can cause your neck to twist and your airway to become blocked, leading to snoring. Try sleeping on your back or side instead.
- Pillows and bedding: Special pillows and bedding designed to keep the head and neck in a proper position may help reduce snoring.
Does snoring indicate a health problem?
If these strategies do not help reduce your snoring, if your snoring is severe, or you experience choking in your sleep, you should seek further advice. In some cases, snoring may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as Sleep Apnoea, which requires medical treatment.
How to stop snoring
The effectiveness of anti-snoring devices can vary depending on the cause of the snoring and the individual using the device. Some people may find that certain devices work well for them, while others may not experience much improvement. Anti-snoring devices that are available, include:
- Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs): These are mouthpieces that are worn at night and hold the lower jaw in a slightly forward position to help keep the airway open. Mandibular Advancement Devices can be used to treating snoring and mild Sleep Apnoea.
- Nasal strips: These are adhesive strips that are placed on the outside of the nose to help open the nostrils and improve airflow.
- Positional Sleep Therapy: A positional sleep therapy device is a great option for those who only snore when lying on their back. The Positional Sleep Therapy Trainer is worn each evening and vibrates when the wearer rolls over on to their back. The vibration encourages them to roll back over.
- Tongue Retaining Devices (TRDs): These are mouthpieces that hold the tongue in a forward position to help keep the airway open.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines: CPAP machines deliver a continuous flow of air through a mask or nasal plugs to help keep the airway open.
- Nasal irrigation: If you have nasal congestion, try using a saline nasal spray, a nasal irrigator or a humidifier to keep your nasal passages open and reduce snoring. The SinuPulse Elite Nasal Irrigator uses a natural saline solution to clear your sinuses and nasal passages in minutes.
- Humidification: Dry air can irritate the tissues in your throat and lead to snoring. Using a humidifier can help keep the air moist and reduce snoring. If you suffer from Sleep Apnoea and use a CPAP machine, a compatible humidifier can be added to your therapy depending on the device you use.
It’s important to note that not all anti-snoring devices are suitable for everyone.
Testing for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Around 1 in 10 people who snore have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). Being told that you snore may be embarrassing, but in most cases, snoring is harmless to the snorer and mostly an annoyance to the listener. However, if you experience any or all of these other symptoms, then it could be more serious:
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Lack of concentration
- You have been told you choke or stop breathing during sleep
- You have a BMI above 25
- Have a recessed jaw or deviated septum
- Need to urinate frequently at night
These problems are indicators that you or your partner might have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea or OSA is a sleep disorder, where a person’s airway regularly closes, and they stop breathing during sleep. These regular interruptions disrupt sleep, causing the person to wake up not feeling refreshed and often tired throughout the day.
If you suspect that you may have OSA, then we recommend reading our guide to getting a Sleep Study conducted. You could be receiving treatment and sleeping soundly again within weeks. Even better – as well as treating OSA, you may also no longer snore.
The Sleep Test
If you suspect that you have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, then an In-Home Sleep Test provides a quick, convenient and affordable way to have it confirmed. Within two weeks you could be able to begin treatment and enjoying deep, restorative sleep again. All studies are independently analysed by experienced NHS-qualified sleep professionals, and use the WatchPAT recording device for unrivalled accuracy.
Our service is tailored for people who suspect they have Sleep Apnoea, and want to have it confirmed quickly, affordably and conveniently. You must have a BMI below 45 and be aged over 18 years to take this test.