If snoring happens frequently it can affect the quantity and quality of your sleep and that of your family members. Snoring happens when you can’t move air freely through your nose and throat during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. People who snore often have too much throat and nasal tissue or “floppy” tissue that is more prone to vibrate. You can control snoring by following methods:
- Lose weight. If you’re overweight, dropping even a few pounds can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring.
- Exercise can also help to stop snoring. As well aiding weight loss, exercising your arms, legs, and abs, for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring. There are also specific exercises you can do to strengthen the muscles in your throat.
- Quit smoking. Quitting is easier said than done, but smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat which can block the airways and cause snoring.
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you’re taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse.
- Establish regular sleep patterns.
- Create a healthy bedtime ritual with your partner and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way together can help you sleep better and often minimize snoring.
- Clear nasal passages. If you have a stuffy nose, rinse sinuses with saline before bed. Using a Neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips can also help you breathe more easily while sleeping.
- Avoid Allergens. If you have allergies, reduce dust mites and pet dander in your bedroom or use an allergy medication.
- Keep bedroom air moist. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat, so if swollen nasal tissues are the problem, a humidifier may help.
- Change your sleeping position. Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specially designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
- Sleep on your side instead of your back.Try attaching a tennis ball to the back of a pajama top or T-shirt. (You can sew a sock to the back of your top then put a tennis ball inside.) If you roll over onto your back, the discomfort of the tennis ball will cause you to turn back onto your side. Alternatively, wedge a pillow stuffed with tennis balls behind your back. After a while, sleeping on your side will become a habit and you can dispense with the tennis balls.
- Try an anti-snoring mouth appliance. These devices often resemble an athlete’s mouth guard and help open your airway by bringing your lower jaw and/or your tongue forward during sleep. While a dentist-made appliance can be expensive, cheaper do-it-yourself kits are also available.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). To keep your airway open during sleep, a machine at your bedside blows pressurized air into a mask that you wear over your nose or face.
- Traditional surgery such as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy, increase the size of your airway by surgically removing tissues or correcting abnormalities.
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) uses a laser to shorten the uvula (the hanging soft tissue at the back of the throat) and to make small cuts in the soft palate either side. As the cuts heal, the surrounding tissues stiffen to prevent the vibrations that trigger snoring.
- Palatal implants or the Pillar procedure involves inserting small plastic implants into the soft palate which help prevent collapse of the soft palate that can cause snoring.
- Somnoplasty uses low levels of radiofrequency heat to remove tissues of the uvula and soft palate that vibrate during snoring. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes.