Snoring is a common problem, affecting nearly 90 million adults in the United States. Of those, approximately 37 million snore on a regular basis, a fact that could indicate a more serious problem or underlying condition, such as sleep apnea. Even if there isn’t a serious condition at play, snoring interrupts healthy sleep patterns, for both the snorer and their partner. Fortunately, there are things that can help stop the snoring.
The Problem with Snoring
Snoring can be annoying, sure, and it may even become the focus of a running joke in some homes. But it’s not anything to joke about. A study has shown that snoring may be an early sign that future health problems are coming. In fact, people who snore are more likely than obese individuals and smokers to have abnormalities in the carotid artery.
Before it gets that serious, though, snoring can cause a bunch of other issues. Headaches (especially in the morning), sore throat, sleepiness, high blood pressure, chest pain, poor concentration and sleep apnea are all potential complications of snoring. And, if left untreated, sleep apnea itself can also lead to other health problems, such as heart problems, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, liver problems and stroke. So while it may seem funny, snoring is a serious problem that deserves to be taken seriously.
Causes of Excessive Snoring
Excessive or worrisome snoring has many causes, some of which we are in control of and some that we’re not. First, let’s take a look at the factors that are not in our control. We are at a greater risk of snoring if we’re male, have a narrow airway, have nasal issues and have a family history of snoring. But even with these being out of our control, they are only part of the story.
Other causes are more within our control. They include being overweight, drinking alcohol, not getting enough sleep and sleeping in the wrong position. So let's look at ways to help curb this problem.
How to Stop Snoring
For those who are concerned or bothered by snoring — or with a spouse who is — there are things we can do to stop snoring. Here are five strategies for doing just that:
- Change sleep positions - Sometimes a simple change in sleep position is all that’s needed to alleviate snoring. Many find relief by sleeping on their sides or elevating their head by 4 inches. This helps to open breathing passages.
- Wear an anti-snoring device - Mouthguards, specifically those intended for reducing snoring, pull the jaw forward and help to keep air passages open throughout the night.
- Clear nasal passages - A stuffy nose can make snoring more likely. Before going to bed, make sure nasal passages are clear. Blowing the nose and/or using a neti pot can also help. Some may want to look into nasal strips or a decongestant.
- Lose weight - Making the effort to lose weight can also make a big difference. Carrying excess weight around the neck or throat can cause snoring, so even losing a small amount of weight can have a profound effect.
- Other influences - Quitting smoking and drinking can reduce the problem, too. Those taking medications that can affect their ability to breathe deeply, such as sedatives or sleeping pills, may want to speak with a doctor about making changes.
Most people think that snoring is out of their control, but there are things snorers can do to reduce snoring and the effect it has on sleep and health. If these remedies don't seem to help, however, they may need medical intervention. Snoring is actually a good reason to visit the doctor. Medical solutions for excessive snoring include wearing a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine at night and/or surgery among other things. But the key here is to first recognize the seriousness of this problem and to take charge.