During a routine visit with a patient last week, I noticed that he and his wife both looked a little tired. When I asked if anything was wrong, the wife rolled her eyes and said, “He keeps me up all night with his snoring.” He looked a little sheepish, but I could see they were both resigned to his snoring. They didn’t realize that there are many options when it comes to relieving snoring.
This is a common scenario. One spouse snores, and you both suffer. Snoring happens for a number of reasons. Some of them are serious, but most of them are minor and can easily be remedied.
If you or your spouse snores at night, there are several things you can do to put an end to the noise and make sure you are both getting a good night’s sleep.
What Causes You to Snore?
Snoring is caused because the muscles in your throat are weak or a little flabby. When you breathe deeply while you are sleeping, these muscle tissues vibrate and make that disruptive noise. The muscles in the throat can lose their tone for a number of reasons. The reasons vary from person to person, and you might find that your snoring is related to a combination of factors.
Some of the most common causes of snoring include:
• Aging: As you get older, it is more likely that you’ll start snoring. The reason is that the muscles in your throat begin to lose some of their tone. Weaker muscles in the throat are more prone to vibration when you breathe deeply and that leads to snoring.
• Allergies: Clogged nasal passages due to allergies can lead to snoring.
• Being Overweight: When you are overweight, you are more likely to have poor muscle tone in your throat.
• Drinking Before Bed: Alcohol can lead to the relaxation of muscles in your throat, making them more likely to vibrate when you breathe.
• Sleeping Position: If you sleep on your back, you are more likely to snore than if you sleep on your side.
• Sleep Apnea: This is the most serious cause of snoring. If you have sleep apnea, you periodically stop breathing during the night. When you begin breathing again, you will often snore deeply.
Figuring Out Why You Snore… and How to Stop it
The easiest way to figure out why you snore is to have your spouse help you. The two of you should keep a sleep diary. Record things like what nights you snore, how deeply you snore, what sleeping position you are in when you snore, whether or not you had a drink or took any medication before bed, and whether or not you have allergies that are acting up.
This can help you see a pattern and then you can take steps to put a stop to your snoring.
If you are overweight, improving your physical fitness and losing weight can make a big difference to how often you snore. In obese people who snore losing a significant amount of weight helped reduce the frequency of snoring by 86%. Even small improvements in weight and fitness can help reduce snoring.
If your partner discovers that your snoring always happens in the same sleeping position, then working on changing your sleeping positions can help dramatically. You can also have your spouse remind you to shift positions whenever you do begin to snore.
For some, it’s allergy season that triggers snoring. If your allergies cause you to snore, look into taking some natural remedies for your allergies. Vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acid, and quercetin are all natural supplements. Running an air purifier in your bedroom at night may also help.
If you tend to snore when you’ve had a drink or taken certain medications, then make it a point to avoid these things within a couple of hours of going to bed.
In addition to these steps, you can also try nose strips that will help keep your air passages open at night or anti-snoring throat rinses. Both of these are natural options that I’ve seen work well for many of my patients.
If you snore most nights and in every sleeping position, then you may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can lead to fatigue, higher blood pressure, and a higher risk of heart disease. If you suspect sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. He can help determine if sleep apnea is the source of your snoring. If it is, he can prescribe a CPAP machine. This machine will help your air passages to stay open at night. You’ll get a better night’s sleep, and you won’t snore.
Snoring can make it hard for you to feel rested. It can also disrupt your relationship with your spouse. Fortunately, there are many ways to address snoring and to reduce how frequently and deeply you snore. By figuring out what triggers you snoring and taking the appropriate action, you and your spouse can begin getting the rest you deserve.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.