Snoring is an annoyance. It is also a serious condition; it can raise the snorer’s risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, memory issues, obesity, diabetes and depression.
Lack of sleep can even cause trouble concentrating, irritability, depression, and sexual dysfunction. Some people fall asleep while at work or school, while talking on the phone, or even while driving.
In some cases, snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, which is a disorder in which a person stops breathing several times throughout the course of a night. The periods of stopped breathing can last a few seconds to a couple of minutes, and occur several times each hour. Each time you stop breathing, you deprive your brain of oxygen.
Snoring and stopped breathing interfere with the quality of the snorer’s sleep. This can cause daytime sleepiness, drowsiness, and mood swings associated with fatigue. Snoring can even interrupt the sleep of others in the household to cause daytime sleepiness for everyone.
When you are asleep, the muscles and soft tissues in your mouth and throat relax. The relaxed tissue can slide backward to block your airway partially. To overcome the blockage, your respiratory system must work harder to pull air into your lungs. Forceful breathing vibrates nearby soft tissues to create the noise associated with snoring. The relaxed tissue can block the airway almost completely in some cases. This pauses breathing, resulting in sleep apnea.
Snoring may be the result of misaligned or weak jaws. The lower jaw may naturally fall towards the back of your mouth to block the airway while you sleep, causing snoring. Your tongue can also slide backward to cause snoring.
Regardless of the cause of snoring, you can kick snoring out of your bedroom.
Tips to Reduce Snoring
Elevate your head
Elevate your head by four inches to prevent your tongue and soft oral tissue from sliding backwards to block your airway. Use an extra pillow or put the head of your bed up on blocks.
Losing even a little weight can reduce the fatty tissue at the back of your throat to reduce or even eliminate snoring.
Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and sedatives
The use of alcohol, sleeping pills, or sedatives relaxes the tissues at the back of your throat to increase the risk of snoring.
Sleep on your side instead of on your back
Sleeping on your back allows your tongue and soft tissue to block your airway. Sleeping on your side keeps your airway clear. If you have trouble staying on your side while sleeping, sew a sock onto your sleeping shirt and then insert a tennis ball into the sock. The discomfort of sleeping on the tennis ball will keep you on your side. You can also try wedging a pillowcase full of tennis balls behind your back. After using the tennis ball trick for a while, you will learn to stay on your side.
Blow your nose
A stuffy nose can interfere with your ability to breathe well. Blow your nose before bedtime; use a neti pot, nasal decongestant, or nasal strips to clear your nasal airway.
Try an oral appliance
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea and can help reduce snoring. There are several types of appliances. Most work by pulling your lower jaw forward or enlarging your airway in other ways. This approach is affordable, comfortable, effective and non-invasive.
Consult with your dentist
A dentist can help determine the cause of your snoring and even fit you with an oral appliance. Your dental health professional can also recommend an overnight sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea. With the results of an overnight sleep study, your dental health professional can work with you and your sleep study doctor to see if a dental therapy can work for you.
Kick snoring out of your bedroom today and get a good night’s sleep tonight. For more information about snoring, speak with your dental health professional.