Snoring is a common affliction affecting almost 60% of the American population. There is a higher tendency towards snoring among men and people who are overweight. Unfortunately, snoring gets worse as you get older.
While a gentle murmur or occasional snore, however loud, is largely annoying for your co-sleeper and can disrupt their sleep, habitual snoring might be an indication of bigger problems requiring medical intervention. Continual snoring can be an indication of a dangerous sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Capable of causing asphyxiation and choking, OSA can be treated relatively easily.
The Cause behind Snoring
When the airflow through your mouth and nose is obstructed physically, it results in snoring. Some of the common causes of snoring are obstructed nasal airways, weak muscles in the throat, bulky throat tissue, and a congenital long soft palate.
Blocked nasal airways are caused by allergies, sinus infections, or bad colds. Nasal polyps or a deviated septum can also cause snoring.
If your muscles are overly relaxed because of sleeping pills, alcohol, or just deep sleep, they can collapse into your airway and result in snoring.
In children, large tonsils and adenoids can cause snoring.
If you have a long palate, or long uvula, they can narrow the space connecting the nose and throat. This obstruction can also exacerbate your snoring.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive sleep apnea is the foremost area of concern if you are a heavy sleeper, as this condition requires medical observation and treatment.
In OSA, patients experience pauses in breathing while they are asleep, which is followed by loud gasping as they try to get oxygen into their system. This can wake up the patient and cause interrupted sleep, which in turn makes the person sluggish and sleepy during the day.
OSA can cause heartburn, a choking sensation while sleeping, and shortness of breath. It impacts the ability to concentrate and stay awake during the day, which is known to have caused accidents, among other problems.
Chronic obstructive sleep apnea also impacts cardiovascular functioning by putting excessive strain on the heart, increasing blood pressure, and enlarging the heart. These symptoms increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Ways to Stop Snoring
Besides being a health hazard, snoring can also cause relationship problems as bed partners are unable to sleep soundly and require separate sleeping space. Happily, snoring is relatively easy to treat and control. A few lifestyle and sleep style changes should do the trick for most people.
The first thing to do is to change your sleep position. Lying on your back increases the potential for snoring, so try to sleep on your side. Use a body pillow to maintain your sleeping position or recline your body, with your head raised to open your nasal passageway.
Overweight individuals have a higher tendency of snoring. Losing weight can improve your snoring situation, and even make it go away entirely.
Alcohol and sedatives such as sleeping pills relax your tongue and throat muscles, leading to increased occurrence of snoring. Therefore, try to avoid drinking alcohol four to five hours before you go to sleep, and decrease the use of sleeping pills if possible.
Try to maintain good sleeping patterns. Your chances of snoring increase when you work long hours without sleep or sleep for less than eight hours a day, several days in a row. This happens because, when you are overly exerted and tired, you sleep very deeply, causing your throat muscles to relax and cause snoring.
Keep your nasal passages open. Clogged nostrils caused by infections or imperfections can be treated. Taking a hot shower helps open up clogged nostrils as does a saltwater rinse. You can also use nasal strips to lift the nasal passage and increase airflow.
Another easy fix is to change out your pillows. Allergens in your bedroom can be found in your bed linen, on your undusted bookshelves, and below your bed!
Run your pillow through the air fluff cycle of your dryer often to reduce allergens and dust mites. Also keep pets out of your bedroom since they can cause allergies.
If you suffer from physical issues such as a deviated septum, you might require surgery. Talk to your doctor if the snoring persists after you make changes.
You must remain hydrated since lack of hydration causes your nasal secretions to become thick and sticky, increasing the chances of snoring.
If you continue to suffer from chronic snoring that is impacting the quality of your life and that of your family, it might be time to seek medical intervention. Your doctor is likely to recommend going to a sleep clinic to monitor your sleeping and snoring patterns.
Depending on the findings, they might ask you to use medical devices such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to facilitate ease of breathing and, therefore, uninterrupted sleep. The machines come with a mask that covers your face and mouth. A small machine pumps air through your airway and keep the muscles from collapsing.