Did you know for example that in many cases, snoring is often linked to lifestyle? The good news is that by making slight changes to that lifestyle, it is possible to put an end to it once and for all. But before we dive into those changes, it’s worth taking a look at what causes snoring and how to prevent it.
The act of snoring occurs when a person is unable to move air freely through the throat and nose when sleeping. As the air struggles to pass the airway it makes the soft tissue in your throat reverberate – hence making that all too familiar snoring sound.
While a bad cold or problems such as sinusitis can restrict breathing and therefore bring about a bout of snoring, this is often temporary. Instead, more continual snoring habits are caused by a number of problems. These include:
Did you know that even by being overweight by just a few kilos, it can lead to snoring? This is because as excess fatty tissue develops, particularly around the neck, it can squeeze the airway which in turn prevents the free-flow of air in and around the throat area.
Increased alcohol intake
Alcohol does a great job of making us feel relaxed but too much alcohol can in some instances make your muscles relax more than normal when seeking out a good night’s sleep. This can encourage the airway opening at the back of the throat to decrease in size making air passage more difficult, hence increased snoring.
Substances contained within cigarette smoke can irritate the lining of the throat causing a degree of swelling. When this happens, airflow is decreased, meaning that if you regularly smoke, you stand a greater chance of snoring.
Unfortunately as we age, we can be more prone to snoring. People of middle age and beyond often experience a decrease in muscle definition in the throat. This in turn can cause a narrowing of the airways which can bring about snoring.
Perhaps surprisingly, our genes play a big part in whether we are prone to snoring or not. Physical attributes like a large neck, enlarged adenoids or a naturally narrow throat can be good indicators of our potential snoring habits.
While snoring in itself is more of an annoyance than a major cause for concern, it can indicate more serious conditions such as sleep apnoea. So if you find yourself waking up constantly and are suffering from severe fatigue and/or sleepiness during the day, then you might want to consult a medical sleep professional for help. Either way, any habitual snoring problems can and should be addressed.
So now we know what the main causes of snoring are, what about snoring treatment?
The good news is that there are some simple remedies and/or lifestyle changes that you can use or adapt to eradicate the problem. These include:
Maintaining a healthy weight, diet and eating program
Losing even a couple of kilos might well be enough to ensure that excess fatty tissue is no longer present in or around the throat. In addition, eating a well balanced diet and adding in some regular exercise can promote a better night’s sleep.
Eating at least 3-4 hours before going to bed also aids digestion and allows you to sleep on your side, rather than on your back. This in turn prevents the tongue from relaxing and falling back into the airway and narrowing the gap.
Avoid heavy alcohol consumption before going to bed
Aside from the fact that too much alcohol immediately before bed can cause a person to sleep on their back, the relaxed feeling a person experiences can also cause the throat to narrow. Both of these factors collectively are likely to make a snore-free night’s sleep very difficult indeed.
If you are attending a party or family event and it’s likely to involve several or more drinks, try stopping a few hours before bed and switching to soft or non-alcoholic beverages. Or alternatively, alternate between soft and alcoholic drinks where possible.
Cut down on smoking
While the ideal scenario for all-round health benefits would be to quit smoking altogether, even cutting down can make a small difference when it comes to snoring treatment.
While you can do nothing about either age or genetics, snoring can still be prevented by carrying out mouth/tongue strengthening exercises. The idea is that when the tongue is stronger it will relax less when sleeping and therefore help to keep the airway free. Try:
- Pushing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and slide the tongue backwards. And repeat 20 times.
- Forcing the back of your tongue downward against the mouth floor while maintaining contact between the tip of the tongue and your bottom teeth.
- Sucking your tongue upwards so that your entire tongue lies against the roof of the mouth. Again, repeat 20 times.
Oral appliance therapy
Alternatively, if you prefer, you can talk to a sleep professional who can offer you effective anti-snoring treatment in the way of oral appliance therapy. Utilising a series of splints and mouthguards, oral appliances for snoring are small devices which are simply worn in the mouth during sleep. They are comfortable, lightweight and are designed to assist in keeping the airway open in order to aid a peaceful night’s sleep.
So there you have it… How to prevent snoring using these 5 simple but effective tips.
If you or your partner have a snoring problem that needs addressing, then come and talk to the team at the Melbourne Sleep Clinic about our proven and effective snoring treatment.
In addition to treatments for snoring, we also treat sleep apnoea and teeth grinding, so call us today at (03) 9068 5316 and take the first steps towards a better night’s sleep for you and your loved ones.