Snoring is a common problem that affects millions of Americans across ages and genders. Snoring disrupts both the quality and quantity of sleep, whether you’re the snorer or sharing the bed with someone who snores. Snoring can be an indicator of a greater health problem, so it’s always a good idea to mention it to your doctor if you start snoring suddenly or more frequently.
What is Snoring and What Causes It?
Snoring is the harsh sound that is made when the free flow of air is obstructed as it moves through the collapsible part of the airway at the back of the mouth and nose. According to the Mayo Clinic, the primary causes of snoring are a structural defect in your airway, alcohol consumption, allergies, nasal congestion, and being overweight.
In addition to the primary causes listed above, many factors can affect snoring, including the position you sleep in, smoking, general aging, even the food you eat.
What Actions Can You Take to Help Reduce Snoring?
To help reduce snoring, you can take a number of actions. If you think you have a structural problem in your airway, see your ear, nose, and throat specialist to find out what can be done. If you sleep on your back, change your sleep position to your side. If you are overweight, excess weight can create a thicker neck, which can narrow the throat and lead to snoring. So lose that excess weight.
Avoid alcohol close to bedtime so that the back of the mouth and the throat don’t become too relaxed and exacerbate snoring. Allergens in your bedroom and your pillow may contribute to snoring. Dust mites collect in pillows and bedding, so change bedding often and run your pillow through the “air fluff” cycle on your dryer every couple of weeks. Raising the head of your bed also helps eliminate snoring as can nasal strips.
If you have nasal congestion, check with your physician about using a nasal decongestant to reduce inflammation and phlegm. Another trick you can use to reduce phlegm is to alter your diet. For example, since mint is a natural decongestant, mint tea with honey might help. Honey is a natural antibacterial with anti-inflammatory properties that can help to soothe inflamed membranes in the throat that contribute to snoring. Other spices and foods that have anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties include onions and turmeric, a spice that can be added to tea or sprinkled on veggies and proteins. Switching from red meat to fish as your primary source of protein may also make a difference because fish doesn’t contain saturated fat, which may cause tissue inflammation.
And finally, stay well hydrated. According to WebMD, the secretions in your nose and soft palate become sticker when you’re dehydrated, which can create more snoring.