Snoring causes sleep deprivation for partners up and down the country! But what causes snoring?
Snoring happens when the tongue, upper throat, soft palate, and/or uvula vibrate against the tonsils and adenoids, causing the annoying tell-tale rumble.
There are many factors that may cause this. As we age, our throat becomes narrower and our muscle tone decreases, obstructing the airways, and men also have narrower passages compared to women. Being overweight means more fatty tissue and poor muscle tone around that area. A cleft palate, deviated septum and enlarged adenoids will also cause snoring. Yet, sometimes, it comes down to simple heredity.
Natural ways to help reduce snoring
Snoring is usually not harmful, unless it’s a symptom of a more serious condition (such as sleep apnea). However, it can certainly impact one’s quality of life and those around them.
Fortunately, there are many lifestyle changes that can minimise the effects of snoring and even eradicate it completely:
1. Lose weight.
2. Change your sleeping position. Sleeping on one’s side has proven to lessen the snoring and in some cases even eliminate it.
3. Elevate your upper body, especially the head. If you don’t have an adjustable bed, either use more pillows to prop yourself up or get wedges/raisers for the top end of the bed.
4. Avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs (including sedatives), especially before bed. You should also avoid big meals and dairy products as they create a mucus layer that can block or narrow the airways.
5. Treat allergies and congestion using conventional medicine or herbal treatments such as peppermint oil and eucalyptus. These can be inhaled, added to drinks or even gargled before bed.
6. Get a humidifier.
7. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day, as well as at night.
8. Use a neck brace.
9. Be sure to dust your room, as well as clean/replace your pillows frequently.
10. Buy anti-snoring pillows.
11. Use devices such as nasal strips and dental mouthpieces to physically force your airways to remain open during the night.
12. Try tongue and throat exercises to strengthen the muscles and tissue and keep them from becoming too relaxed during sleep.
The best pillows and mattresses for snoring
Mattresses must be neither too soft nor too firm, providing adequate support for the entire spine, neck and head, and allowing a comfortable side sleep position.
The best mattresses a snorer can reach for are memory foam, supportive latex and high-quality air mattresses. They must adjust to the body’s shape and provide adequate movement restriction. A mattress that stays cool at all times will also help with restless sleep.
As for pillows, there are many anti-snoring ones in the market.
They can be made out of various materials, the most preferred one being memory foam. They also come in many different shapes: cervical, wedge, contour, etc. All of these are designed to keep the neck, head and spine correctly aligned, allowing the airways to remain obstruction-free.
Any orthopaedic pillow will usually make a big difference, but one should also consider the neck curvature, softness/firmness, and size when making a decision since every person is different.