Snoring is a common condition, one that many of us — and our partners — face. Chronic snoring can make it difficult to get restful sleep and may even disrupt the sleep of loved ones nearby.
When we fall asleep, our body relaxes. “Relaxation of the throat muscles during sleep allows the walls of the airway to come closer together. As the airway closes, the throat vibrates, making a rattling noise as air rushes past,” says Dr. Laliotis.
As we fall deeper into sleep, our muscles relax further, creating more noise from the throat. Some of us are more prone to snoring due to the shape of our mouth, throat and nose.
Fortunately, there are three ways to reduce your chances of snoring:
1. Maintain a healthy weight.
Carrying excess weight is a common culprit of snoring. As the neck gets thicker, the back of the throat becomes narrower and symptoms intensify. Oftentimes, losing as little as 10 percent of your weight can increase airflow and reduce snoring.
2. Sleep on your side or stomach.
Try to avoid sleeping on your back. When muscles relax in this position, gravity pulls the jaw and tongue backward, narrowing the airway more than if you were lying on your side. A body pillow or an anti-snore shirt can help keep you propped on your side during the night. Anti-snore shirts use soft foam attachments to prevent you from rolling onto your back during the night. You can buy both items online.
3. Avoid alcohol before bed.
Alcohol relaxes muscles and further restricts the airway lying down. Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime.
Dr. Laliotis advises against purchasing over-the-counter dental appliances that claim to prevent snoring without first consulting your dentist. “These appliances can be ill-fitting and may cause your teeth to shift, requiring expensive orthodontic work to fix,” he says. “Instead, speak to your dentist about creating a custom-fitted apparatus.”
Adhesive nasal strips are another questionable over-the-counter remedy. The strips can provide relief from snoring due to congested nasal passages, but may provide little relief from the root cause of chronic snoring.
Sleep apnea is a more severe condition related to snoring where the airway is restricted completely during sleep. Dr. Laliotis recommends speaking to your doctor if you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, unrefreshing sleep or have experienced interruptions in breathing during sleep.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Ari Laliotis about snoring prevention for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.