To some, snoring may seem like nothing more than a slight annoyance of the night, but to others, it’s a chronic health concern that can lead to more serious health conditions1Snoring. Yale Medicine. Retrieved 26 December 2021, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/snoring.. New studies estimate that approximately 45% of adults snore occasionally, and 25% snore regularly2Why Do People Snore? Answers for Better Health. Hopkinsmedicine.org. Retrieved 26 December 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/why-do-people-snore-answers-for-better-health.. These might seem low enough not to worry, but whether you’re the snorer or are on the other side of the snorer, snoring is much more than loud night noises. In fact, it can be detrimental to relationships, as it can be near impossible to sleep beside someone who sounds like they have a thunderous storm brewing in their mouth or nose. But it isn’t the snorer’s fault, right? It’s not like they purposely snore. Unfortunately, this is how most couples end up sleeping in separate rooms or in a worse-case situation. That’s also not to mention that snoring can be really dangerous if it goes untreated because it can indicate that something else is going on. So, whether you’re the spouse that is desperate for some sleep that isn’t disrupted by snoring or are the snorer, there are many natural solutions to start addressing the sleepy issue.
What is Snoring?
To put it briefly, snoring is a hoarse or harsh sound that happens when the airflow is unable to move freely through your airways as you breathe, causing those thunderous sounds to come out. Where the sound originates from can give you an idea of the type of snorer you are.
Types of Snoring
There are four types of snoring, with each type explaining where in the body the snoring comes from. For example, here’s a look at the different types and the causes of each:
- Nose-based snoring: caused by blocked nostrils from a deviated spectrum, a physical obstruction in the nose that blocks the airway, allergies or nose stiffness
- Mouth-based snoring: can be caused by blocked nasal passages, enlarged tonsils, or weak palatal tissue, or the inability to breathe through your nose due to a blockage
- Tongue-based snoring: caused by the tongue becoming too relaxed, blocking the airflow and making it difficult to breathe.
- Throat-based snoring: caused by the muscles and tissues in the throat becoming too relaxed that they block the airflow in the throat area, which can lead to sleep apnea
Snoring vs. Sleep Apnea
You can be a snorer and not have sleep apnea, but if you are a snorer with sleep apnea, you’ll want to take the extra steps needed to ensure your health and safety. The main difference between snoring and sleep apnea is that when you have sleep apnea, you are literally not breathing at some point during the night because your airways become blocked or collapse. This period of not breathing can last a few seconds or minutes, which is often followed by choking, gasping or snorting.
Effects of Snoring
Snoring may seem like nothing more than just a nuisance that keeps you or your spouse awake at night, but it can be quite debilitating and even dangerous if left untreated. The most common side effects of snoring are:
- Gasping or choking
- Interrupted breathing (apnea)
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Chronic headaches
- Relationship problems
- Heart disease
- Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
On the other hand, sleep apnea is considered to be much more serious and potentially risky to your health. Some people with sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 30 times an hour, which can take a significant toll on their health as the body becomes deprived of oxygen and unable to remove carbon dioxide3Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Retrieved 26 December 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8718-sleep-apnea.. This can lead to all of the potential side effects mentioned above, as well as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Work-related or driving accidents
Tips for Treating Snoring
Here are some top tips for treating snoring and sleep apnea naturally to get you started on a healthy treatment plan.
Change Your Sleep Position
Changing the position you like to sleep in sounds easier said than done. However, once you get the hang of a new sleep position, it really is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to treat snoring and sleep apnea effectively. This is because, when lying on your back, the base of your tongue and palate fall against the back of your throat, causing the snoring and blockage to your airways.
Try these tips to get you to change up your sleep position:
- Use a body pillow to help you sleep on your side
- Recline your bed with the top up and extended to open up your airway passages
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Sedatives and alcohol can relax your throat muscles so much that you become more likely to snore. This is why many people snore more or worse after a night out on the town. Try to limit the amount of alcohol you drink before going to sleep or at least give yourself four to five hours to sober up.
Practice Healthy Sleep Hygiene
Your sleep habits directly impact how you sleep and whether or not you snore or experience sleep apnea. For example, not getting enough sleep or enough quality sleep makes you more likely to snore as you sleep harder and deeper when you do get to bed. This causes the muscles to become significantly more relaxed, which blocks the airway passages.
Some healthy sleep habits to consider are:
- Give yourself time to wind down before going to bed
- Get a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep each night
- Maintain the same wake-sleep schedule (even on the weekends)
Actively Open Your Nasal Passages
Since snoring and sleep apnea can stem from your nasal passages, keeping them open will help prevent the noisy problems throughout the night. Having a hot shower before bed or using a saltwater rinse can help open up your nasal passages. A neti pot is highly recommended for a natural nasal rinse and nasal strips that lift the passages can also be an excellent alternative. These are also super helpful if your nose is blocked due to a cold.
Give Your Pillows an Upgrade
Wash your sheets regularly and upgrade those pillows to suit your sleep position and comfort. You’ll be amazed at what a good pillow can do for your sleep and snoring problem. You can also toss your pillows in an air fluff cycle if you think dust mites or animal dander contributes to your airways being blocked.
Now that I have you in an absolute panic thinking that your snoring is much more than the unsoundly noises of the night, it’s important to know that many solutions keep your airways open all night long. This helps eliminate snoring and of course, keep you breathing as you sleep. Keep in mind, it is imperative that you seek medical attention if you think you have sleep apnea. While several treatment options are available, sleep apnea isn’t something you want to play around with. You’ll also want to be mindful of prescription sleep medications, nasal sprays and other over-the-counter “solutions”, as many of these are highly addictive and if your body begins to rely on them, that opens up an entirely new realm of potential risks.
- 1Snoring. Yale Medicine. Retrieved 26 December 2021, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/conditions/snoring.
- 2Why Do People Snore? Answers for Better Health. Hopkinsmedicine.org. Retrieved 26 December 2021, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/why-do-people-snore-answers-for-better-health.
- 3Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (2020). Retrieved 26 December 2021, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8718-sleep-apnea.