How to Stop Snoring

Dominique W. Brooks
man snoring

A snoring partner is one of the challenges of sharing a bed with another person. Snoring affects millions of Americans and their partners because it can ruin nights of sleep and your overall health. Luckily there are some methods you can try to minimize your chances of snoring.

Ways to Stop Snoring

While occasional snoring may just be a bother for your bed partner, regular bouts can disrupt your partner's -- and your own -- sleep patterns. Snoring that is caused by a medical issue can also lead to health problems. However, there are steps you can take to reduce snoring. You may also need some assistance from your health care provider to put the snoring issue to rest.

Stop Snoring Before You Fall Asleep

There are several things you can try before you get into bed to lower your risk of snoring.

  • Weight loss: People who are overweight may have extra tissue in the throat that may increase the risk of snoring. Losing weight can often improve the situation.
  • Use nasal strips: For some people, nasal strips can help widen the nasal passages which may improve air flow. This doesn't work for everyone and does not help if you have a problem like sleep apnea.
  • Limit use of alcohol or other sedatives: Alcohol and sedative medications depress your central nervous system and relax the tissues in your throat. This can worsen snoring. You should avoid alcohol for at least two hours before bedtime. Discuss your snoring habits with your physician before starting prescription sedatives.
  • Improve nasal congestion: Congestion from allergies or other issues can disrupt the nasal airflow, which can lead to snoring. However, using oral or spray decongestants for more than a couple of days in a row can cause more congestion (called rebound). Talk to your doctor about your treatment options, such as steroid nasal sprays. If the congestion is caused by a deviated septum, you may need surgery to fix the problem.
  • Clean out the allergens in the bedroom: Make you bedroom as allergen-free as possible. Dust the ceiling fan and change your pillows regularly. You can put allergen barriers on your mattress and pillows to keep the dust mites away. Keep pets -- and their dander -- off your bed as well.
  • Establish a sleep schedule: A regular sleep pattern can help you decrease your snoring.

Sleep Positions to Stop Snoring

Sleep position is important, and some sleep and snoring problems can be exasperated when sleeping in certain postures. Sleeping on your back can cause the tissues in the throat to slide back as the muscles relax. As air moves through the passage, the tissues vibrate, causing the familiar snoring sounds.

  • Sleep on your side: Sleeping on your side may reduce snoring because the relaxed tissue does not narrow the airway. Some people use a full length body pillow to remain in a side sleeping position. There are also products available that fit around your waist that can gently force you to sleep on your side.
  • Head positioning: Keeping your head slightly elevated can help. A good pillow that provides support may reduce snoring.
  • Elevate the head of the bed: You may want to opt for elevating the head of the bed by using a wedge under the mattress.

Home Remedies to Stop Snoring

Many sleepers find they wake in the same sleep position in spite of their attempts to change their habits. If side sleeping and head elevation don't yield the desired results, talk to your doctor about unusual strategies that are rumored to be effective. Some approaches encourage sleepers to avoid sleeping on their backs.

  • Tennis balls are not commonly associated with getting a good night's sleep but they are part of an old home remedy for snoring. The technique requires a little work and sleep position may be a factor in the tennis ball's effectiveness. Cut the ball in half and attach it to your pajamas. If you roll over on to your back while you're sleeping, the tennis ball may provide enough discomfort that you will return to your side sleeping position. This method may interfere with your ability to sleep well since you may wake up every time you change positions.
  • Using a humidifier can help lessen congestion, which can widen your nasal passages and lower the risk of snoring.
  • Hypnosis is a somewhat controversial approach that may address sleep behavior. The approach is believed to put suggestions into the unconscious mind that may help when it comes to sleep position. The hypnotherapist may suggest the sleeper turns on his or her side once snoring begins.
  • Acupuncture may help for people who snore because of congestion; this therapy may reduce inflammation in the sinuses and nasal passages.
  • Vapor rub under the nostrils may open the airway for snorers who have the nighttime breathing problem due to sinus congestion. It is necessary to determine the cause of your snoring to determine if this approach would be effective.
  • A pacifier fits in the sleeper's mouth, and many believe it works like a snoring mouthpiece. It may help stabilize the tongue during sleep. Using a baby's pacifier is not recommended. Snoring pacifiers made specifically for adults are available.
  • Chin straps prevent the sleeper from breathing through the mouth. Breathing through the nose can alleviate the snoring problem since the air is not moving past the tissues in the back of the mouth. Some use tape to keep their lips together to get the same effect. Neither approach is appropriate for everyone, especially patients who have breathing problems and nasal congestion.

Vocal Exercises for Snoring

Vocal training can strengthen the muscles in the throat. This may keep the muscles from sagging in the throat while sleeping. The Mayo Clinic offers two options to consider.

  • Singing is a snoring home remedy that may help, but more research into its effectiveness is necessary. Singing exercises the muscles in the throat and soft palate, which can strengthen the area to prevent the muscles from sagging.
  • Learning how to play the didgeridoo may strengthen the muscles in the airway passage. Like vocal training, exercising the upper airway passage using the musical instrument requires more research into its effectiveness.

Medical Solutions

If your snoring is related to a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea then simple solutions like a humidifier and just rolling over will not solve your problem. If you or a loved one snores so loudly you wake yourself or others up, consult a physician to determine the cause of your snoring.

There are several medical steps that can help you stop snoring.

Oral Mouthpieces

Your dentist can fit you with an oral device that may minimize the snoring. This device will help position your tongue and soft palate to maximize air flow. Your dentist will have to monitor the fit for the mouthpiece over the years. Possible side effects include excessive salivation, jaw pain, or dry mouth.

CPAP Machines

Your doctor may prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. CPAP involves wearing a pressurized mask that forces air through your airway to keep it open during the night.

While this is a very good way to deal with sleep apnea and the snoring associated with it, many people have a difficult time adjusting to the mask itself or the noise of the machine. There are different types of masks and additional attachments like nasal pillows or humidifiers that may help with the adjustment.

Surgical Procedures

There are several surgical procedures your doctor may suggest depending on your diagnosis and whether other non-invasive options work for you.

  • Radiofrequency tissue ablation (somnoplasty): This is an outpatient procedure where the doctors use a low-intensity radiofrequency signal to shrink tissues in the soft palate to eliminate snoring.
  • Laser surgery: Laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (LAUPPP) is also an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will use a laser to shorten the soft palate and remove your uvula; removing the excess tissue will decrease the vibrations and eliminate snoring. Potential side effects include pain, infection, and bleeding.
  • Palatal implants: In this procedure, the surgeon inserts small polyester braids into the soft palate at the back of the throat. This serves to stiffen the tissue and prevent the vibrations that lead to snoring. The effect on sleep apnea is not fully understood so you should discuss your options with your physicians.
  • Traditional surgery: Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgery that requires general anesthesia. While you are asleep, your surgeon will trim the excess tissue from the back of your throat. Risks from this procedure include bleeding, pain, infection, and nasal congestion.

Dealing with Snoring

Snoring may be a symptom of a bigger medical problem. See your doctor before adopting any home remedies to stop snoring so that he/she can rule out more serious issues.

How to Stop Snoring