How to Reduce Snoring

Four Methods:Changing Your HabitsTreating Sinus ProblemsSpeaking With Your Partner About SnoringSpeaking With Your Doctor About Snoring

Snoring is a pain. When it's loud, it can disturb your partner, your roommates, and (in extreme cases) your neighbors. Snoring is common: The Sleep Foundation estimates that 90 million American adults (37% of the adult population) snore, and 37 million of those snorers do so on a regular basis.[1] If you or your partner struggle with a snoring problem, read on. You may be able to reduce your snoring by changing your habits.

Method 1
Changing Your Habits

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    Understand why you snore. Different types of snoring are caused by different things, and you will need to understand the root cause in order to find a solution. To start: ask your partner or your roommate whether you snore with your mouth open or with your mouth closed.
    • If you snore with your mouth wide open, your throat passage may be partially blocked. When you sleep, the muscles in your throat relax--and sometimes they relax so much that air cannot flow. You gasp for air, and this causes you to snore. A blocked throat passage can be a symptom of various health issues, from sleep apnea to a sinus infection.[2]
    • Closed-mouth snoring indicates that your tongue may be getting in the way of your windpipe, particularly if you are sleeping on your back.
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    Prop your head up. If you sleep on your back, buy yourself a few extra pillows and prop yourself up in bed, rather than lying flat on your back. This will help keep your throat unblocked.
    • Consider raising the head of your bed. Some mattresses and bed frames are adjustable, allowing you to raise the headrest at the click of a button. If you own an adjustable bed, use it!
    • If you do not own an adjustable bed, you may consider raising the headboard yourself. Place a 2x4 plank or a brick underneath each of the two legs at the head of the bed. Make sure that the incline is not too steep that you slide out of bed, and make sure that the bed is stable before you try to sleep in it.
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    Try to fall sleep on your side or your stomach. When you sleep on your back, your tongue may rest against your throat, blocking your windpipe and causing you to snore.[3]
    • Experiment with side- and stomach-sleeping positions, and find what works for you. If you are comfortable, you will be less likely to roll back onto your back in your sleep.
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    Sew a tennis ball to the back of a t-shirt and sleep in that shirt. When you try to roll onto your back in your sleep, the tennis ball will wake you. Gradually, you may be able to train yourself not to sleep on your back.[4]
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    Avoid drinking alcohol before bed. Alcohol is a muscle relaxant, and it can relax the muscles that keep your windpipe open, thus blocking your air intake. Your body overcompensates for the blockage by taking in too much air, which causes snoring.
    • Moreover, alcohol leads to less restful, more disturbed sleep.
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    Avoid consuming cannabis before bed. Marijuana, like alcohol, can relax your throat muscles and induce snoring. It also resembles alcohol in that pre-sleep use can prevent sleepers from dipping into restorative REM sleep, leaving them groggy and restless when the morning comes.
    • If you consume cannabis by smoking it, the smoke may also play a factor in your snoring problem. Regular smoking can irritate the skin in your nose and throat, which dries out your airways and makes a blockage more likely.
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    Avoid using prescription sleep aids. Sedatives and sleeping pills can cause your throat muscles to relax in the same way as alcohol and cannabis, blocking your windpipe and inducing your body to snore.
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    Avoid eating heavy meals before bed. This, too, can relax your muscles to the point of snoring.
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    Consider losing weight. Extra weight may add excess tissue to your neck. This tissue may constrict your windpipe, leading to the vibrations that we know as snoring. Losing weight can grant you many additional health benefits beyond the realm of snoring!
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    Avoid smoking. Regular smoking can irritate the skin in your nose and your throat, which may obstruct your breathing. If you are a heavy smoker with a chronic snoring problem, consider quitting or moderating your habit.
    • Smoking can cause obstructions in your windpipe, swelling of the mucous membrane in the nose, swelling of the tissue in the throat, and blockage of the small vessels in the lungs.
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    Sing. We snore when loose throat tissue relaxes and blocks our airway. A regular singing practice may strengthen the throat muscles and firm the tissue of your throat and mouth, making your throat less likely to close up at night.[5]
    • This may work particularly well for aging snorers whose throat muscles have weakened with time.
    • If you're not into singing, consider trying a few tongue and throat stretches. Stick your tongue out as far as you can, then relax. Repeat 10 times. Stick your tongue out again, and try to touch your chin. Hold. Repeat, but try to touch your nose instead. Repeat 10 times.

Method 2
Treating Sinus Problems

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    Address any nasal congestion. If your nose is stuffy and you have trouble breathing, you may be snoring at night to overcompensate for the reduced airflow. If you suffer from a chronic sinus infection, speak with your doctor about treatment.
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    Try taking a decongestant or antihistamine if you suspect that nasal congestion is causing your snoring. Use these only as a temporary measure. Prolonged use of either can pose health risks.
    • Gargle with a peppermint mouthwash to shrink the lining of your nose and throat. This is especially effective if your snoring is a temporary condition caused by a head cold or an allergy.
    • Change your sheets and pillowcases often to remove bedroom allergens. Vacuum your floors, clean your curtains, and dust the place down. Many respiratory infections are caused by germs floating around in our living spaces.
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    Use a humidifier to humidify your bedroom. When you breath dry air, your airways tighten, reducing the amount of air that can pass through your windpipe. If your bedroom is very dry, you may be snoring to compensate.
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    Use a sinus/nasal rinse to flush out the debris and mucus that form in your nose. Most pharmacies sell bottles of saline solution, and some of these solutions are medicated with decongestants to potentiate the effect. Use these nasal decongestant sprays sparingly, as they can dry out your nose with overuse.
    • Take a warm shower or bath before bed to keep your breathing channels from drying out. Hot, moist air will help drain the mucus from your sinuses and keep them unobstructed.
    • As noted before, raise the head of your bed or sleep on an extra pillow. This will help reduce the amount of mucus that drains and blocks your nasal passages.
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    Consider using nasal strips to reduce noise levels while you treat your sinus problems. These sticky strips may make your snoring quieter, but they are not likely to actually fix the problem.[6]
    • Nasal strips are available at most pharmacies. Following the directions on the package and tape one of the strips to the outside of your nose. They work by lifting and opening your nostrils to increase airflow.

Method 3
Speaking With Your Partner About Snoring

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    Be tactful. If you are speaking with a partner or a roommate about their snoring, try to approach the problem constructively. Offer to help. Suggest solutions, but do not demand change.
    • Be aware of deeper issues. Talking about the root causes of a snoring problem may inadvertently bring up smoking, drinking, weight, or other sensitive issues that may affect your relationship with your partner. Be aware of the territory that your conversation might touch upon, and be respectful of your partner's choices.
    • It is frustrating to be kept up all night by someone's snoring--but try not to be bitter. Keep your discussion light and upbeat, and make it clear that you are happy to be a part of the solution.
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    Bring it up sooner rather than later. Your partner's snoring may be a temporary side-effect of a sinus infection, or it may be a long-term frustration that festers under the skin of your relationship. It may feel better to clear the air and work with your partner to solve the problem together.
    • Timing is everything. Try not to confront your partner about their snoring in the middle of the night or immediately after they wake. You will be less frustrated if you wait until daytime, and your partner will be in a better state to deal with the problem.
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    Remember that snoring is a physical disorder with practical solutions. Whether you're a snorer or you live with one, there is nothing to be embarrassed or angry about. The snorer does not choose to snore.
    • If you regularly snore and your partner complains, take the issue seriously. Your snoring may not bother you, but over time it may cause unnecessary tension in your relationship.
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    Remember that most solutions take time. In the interim, if your partner snores, consider investing in a pair of earplugs to get a better night's sleep.
    • If you begin to use earplugs but do not bring up the snoring issue, your partner may be embarrassed. Use earplugs only as a temporary fix. Be proactive, but not passive-aggressive.

Method 4
Speaking With Your Doctor About Snoring

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    Determine whether your symptoms match up with obstructive sleep apnea. Frequent, loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea--particularly if your snoring is punctuated by pauses followed by choking or gasping. Sleep apnea causes shallow, interrupted breathing, and keeps people from slipping into the deep REM sleep that restores their energy for each coming day. About 1/2 of people who snore loudly suffer from sleep apnea.[7]
    • You may be suffering from sleep apnea if, in addition to snoring, you are abnormally sleepy during the day. Your reflexes and your concentration may be impaired.[8] Bear in mind that some of these symptoms can sprout from many other roots.
    • Sleep apnea is treatable. Identify the symptoms and speak with your doctor.
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    If you regularly take any prescribed medication, check the bottle or the packaging to see if snoring is listed as a side-effect. The drugs that you're ingesting might be making your snoring worse. If you are not sure, ask your doctor.
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    Ask your doctor if your age could play a role in your snoring problem. Snoring tends to worsen as you age. Many of the above solutions still apply to elderly snorers.
    • As you reach middle age, your windpipe becomes narrower, and you gradually lose muscle tone in your throat. You may be able to reverse this effect by performing throat exercises.
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    Ask your doctor if your body type could play a role in your snoring problem. There is a strong link between snoring and diabetes: people with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are nine times more likely to suffer from diabetes.[9]
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    Ask your doctor about using an anti-snoring mouthpiece if your snoring problem does not respond to sinus treatment or lifestyle changes. These "dental appliances" are designed to prevent your soft throat tissues from relaxing to the point that they obstruct the airway.
    • Some devices bring your lower jaw forward, some lift the roof of your mouth, and some stop the tongue from falling back over your windpipe.[10]
    • Be wary about commercial sleep aids. Ask your doctor about the risks, costs, and benefits, and make an informed decision about whether an anti-snoring mouthpiece is right for you.
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    Consider sleeping with expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP) valves in your nostrils. These devices use the power of your breath to create a gentle pressure that helps keep your respiratory passages open.
    • Again, be wary about commercial sleep aids. Ask your doctor about the risks, costs, and benefits, and make an informed decision about whether an EPAP device is right for you.
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    Consider anti-snoring devices only in extreme cases. Before you purchase an expensive valve or mouthpiece, try to identify any habits or environmental factors that may be causing you to snore. Refer to the "quick lifestyle fixes" at the top of this page and try to solve the root cause of your snoring problem.


  • Consider the underlying cause. Ask your doctor about the possibility of a serious sleep disorder that stretches beyond snoring--such as sleep apnea. If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, ask your doctor about using a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP), which opens your nasal passages with pressurized air delivered through a mask or a nose-mounted appliance.
  • If your problem persists, consider seeking out a physician who specializes in sleep medicine or dental sleep medicine. Visit the American Dental Sleep Academy ([1]) or [].

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