That harsh sound coming from your throat can impede your sleep — and drive your partner crazy. Follow these suggestions to remedy the problem
Editor’s Note: Savvy mattress retailers want to do everything they can to help their customers sleep better, including offering them sound advice and tips. Feel free to share this great guidance from Better Sleep Council spokeswoman Lissa Coffey with your shoppers (with credit given, of course). The BSC is the consumer education arm of the International Sleep Products Association.
If you snore, you might not even be aware you’re making such a racket in your sleep, but if you sleep with a partner, he or she sure is. Where is all this noise coming from? It’s basically noisy breathing that disturbs your sleep and your partner’s. The side effects of snoring include fragmented sleep, resulting in daytime drowsiness.
Snoring is a common problem, affecting about 90 million adults in the United States. What causes it? The muscles in our throat relax when we sleep. Our tongue falls back and our throat becomes narrow and soft. As we breath, the walls of our throat vibrate, and that’s when some people make that “snnnnnnooore” sound. Aging causes throat muscles to relax more deeply, so older folks are more likely to snore than younger ones. Obesity also contributes to snoring because there is more fatty tissue in the neck area. There are other snoring risk factors to consider, such as the way the nose and throat are structured, how much alcohol you’ve had, and even your sleep position. Snoring also can be caused by dry air, a cold or an allergy.
If you are a chronic snoring offender, consult your physician to make sure you don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. Apnea is heavy snoring that occurs when your throat’s walls collapse, causing a cessation of breathing. It requires medical attention.
Here are some simple home remedies that might help to keep the peace in your household:
1. Use a humidifier. Air conditioners and heating units dry out indoor air, and the delicate tissue in our nose and throat are sensitive to this. A cool air humidifier helps replace some of that moisture in the air, making it more comfortable and easier to breathe through your nose. You may add a few drops of essential oil to the humidifier unit to get added benefits. Peppermint, tea tree oil and eucalyptus help open up your nasal passages naturally. If you’ve got a snoring dog, a humidifier will help that, too.
2. Take a steam. A hot, steamy shower before bed helps reduce nasal congestion so you can breathe more easily. As an alternative, you can inhale steam by putting a bowl of boiled water on a table (add essential oil as an option here, as well) and leaning over the bowl. Breathe in deeply. Place a towel over your head to create a tent effect that directs the steam toward your face. Give it at least 5 to 10 minutes to feel some results.
3. Lubricate your nasal passages. Ayurveda, India’s 5,000-year-old science of life, recommends lubricating your nasal passages with sesame oil or ghee. Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is used in many Ayurvedic remedies for its medicinal properties. With clean hands, use your pinky finger to massage the inside of your nostrils with sesame oil or soft ghee. Close off one nostril at a time and breathe in the oil to moisturize farther up your nose. Do this before bed and when you wake up in the morning.
4. Lubricate your throat.
- Olive oil is a strong anti-inflammatory agent and can decrease swelling in respiratory passages. It also relieves soreness and reduces the vibration in your throat that causes snoring. Take a shot glass full of olive oil by itself (two or three sips) before you go to bed.
- Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties and it coats the throat, reducing snoring vibrations. Mix one teaspoon of honey in a cup of hot water or in a cup of chamomile or ginger tea and drink sometime after dinner and before bedtime. Chamomile is famous as a muscle and nerve relaxant, which will help you sleep comfortably. Ginger has the benefit of anti-bacterial effects.
5. Use Herbals.
Peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties that can help open up your entire respiratory system. Put a drop or two of peppermint oil in a glass of warm water, and gargle with it before bed.
Cardamom has been used as a decongestant and an expectorant, so it can be helpful in opening up blocked nasal passages. You can chew cardamom pods or mix about ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom in a cup of warm water and drink before bed.
Nettle is helpful in relieving snoring caused by seasonal allergies as it has both anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties. Make a cup of tea from about a tablespoon of dried nettle and let it steep in boiling water for 5 minutes. You can drink this anytime to help relieve allergy symptoms.
Turmeric is a mighty antibiotic and antiseptic. Interestingly, these properties are amplified when turmeric is mixed with milk. This also makes it an amazing immune system booster. Use 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric and mix into a cup of hot milk to make golden milk. Sip the drink about half an hour before bedtime.
6. Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue to move to the back of your throat and block some airflow, causing snoring. If you can sleep on your side instead, air flows more easily so there’s much less chance of snoring. For those who have trouble sleeping on their side, tennis ball therapy was created.
This is a popular snoring treatment designed to help train people to sleep on their side. Typically, a tennis ball is taped, or attached in some way, to the snorer’s back, impeding the person from rolling over. It doesn’t have to be a tennis ball, but that size seems to work for most people. For my friend, Dave, when the tennis ball was ineffective, his wife resorted to duct-taping a soccer ball to the back of his shirt! Snoring prevention has gotten to be big business. Now, conveniently, there are sleep shirts you can get with the tennis ball pocket sewed into the back. Some companies make dedicated inflatable sleeping backpacks to get the job done.
7. Play the didgeridoo. The didgeridoo is traditional wind instrument from Australia. It has a unique sound and requires strong mouth, tongue and throat muscles to play. Practicing this instrument builds up and tones those muscles, making you less likely to snore. Any wind instrument will do, just make sure your practicing doesn’t become more annoying to your partner than your snoring.
Lissa Coffey is a spokeswoman for the Better Sleep Council and the founder of CoffeyTalk.com. A lifestyle and wellness expert, she’s written several books and has been a frequent guest on national and local television shows.