7 Easy Ways To Stop Snoring

How annoying is it to discover that your cute new partner turns into a buzzsaw as soon as it's bedtime? But is it even worse to have your partner wake you up in the middle of the night to tell you to stop snoring? Either way, the good news (for you and your boo) is that — with a little detective work, and possibly some trial and error — you may not be doomed to snore forever.

So what's really happening when you snore? "It’s a vibration of the soft tissue of your throat," says Maria Suurna, MD, an otolaryngologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. When you sleep, your throat muscles relax. That causes your airway to narrow and makes it more likely for the air you're breathing in and out to cause (noisy) vibrations.

Vibrations in your throat might sound bad (in more ways than one!), but snoring in itself isn't a sign of anything dangerous. For most of us, Dr. Suurna says, snoring is a product of several factors: Having a cold or allergies makes snoring more likely, because they irritate and narrow your nasal passages. "And alcohol or any sedating medications [can cause snoring] because they contribute to muscle relaxation," Dr. Suurna explains.

However, there are times when snoring can become a health concern. If you wake up feeling exhausted, have headaches in the morning, or wake up in the middle of the night with a choking sensation, Dr. Suurna says those are signs that your snoring is actually a symptom of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing for a moment during the night and wake up, but immediately fall back asleep and don't remember it. If left untreated, Dr. Suurna says the condition is "associated with a lot of health issues — it increases your blood pressure and your risk for strokes and cognitive disorders."

The difficulty is that, because you're asleep when it's happening, it's kind of hard to catch your own sleep apnea. And, unfortunately, the only way to get officially diagnosed is to undergo a night of testing at a sleep lab.

So, if you don't have any of those more serious symptoms, Dr. Suurna suggests trying out a few at-home lifestyle changes first. And, if these don't help, it's time to bring in the professionals. Your snoring might be a symptom of sleep apnea or of some part of your anatomy, such as large tonsils or a deviated septum. The only way to find out is to get it checked out.

For now, continue on for a few snore-busting tips you can try at home.

Use a neti pot.

Along with other nasal irrigation techniques, neti pots are popular because they can help clear out your sinuses and your nasal passages. Some people report that, over time, this keeps congestion (and, therefore, snoring) under control, even during allergy season. However, please follow the FDA's instructions and be sure to use distilled water or boil your water first to steer clear of potentially dangerous bacteria and amoebas that might be lurking in your tap water.
Stay hydrated all day (and night).

When your nose, sinuses, and throat get too dry, that can also lead to snoring because it can cause those passages to become irritated and inflamed, says Dr. Suurna. Try using a humidifier at night to keep them moist and do your best to stay hydrated all day. And, of course, be sure to keep that humidifier clean.
Sleep on your side.

To reduce your snoring, you're going to want to avoid sleeping on your back as much as possible — it encourages your throat muscles to relax back into your throat, making it harder to breathe. Sometimes, staying on your back but elevating your head or back with an extra pillow is enough, says Dr. Suurna, but your best bet is to sleep on your side. You can try using another pillow or a body pillow to encourage you to stay there throughout the night.
Stop drinking a few hours before bedtime.

Alcohol can cause your throat muscles to relax, which makes snoring more likely. That's yet another reason to avoid it for a few hours before you're ready to fall asleep.
Try taking a hot shower.

Congestion is another huge factor when it comes to snoring, because it narrows and irritates your nasal passages. So a nice hot, steamy shower before bed can help get rid of as much snot as possible (plus, it might help you fall asleep faster).
Try some over-the-counter products.

If you haven't checked out all the over-the-counter products out there made specifically for snoring, it's worth a walk through the drugstore. For instance, Dr. Suurna suggests keeping an eye out for nasal dilators or Breathe Right strips to open up your nasal passages, as well as chin straps to keep your mouth shut during the night.
Don't ignore your allergies.

Allergies are another major source of congestion, so don't sleep (haha) on getting those under control as much as possible. One thing to watch out for, though, is that many common allergy meds are sedating (e.g. Benadryl), and that side effect can cause your throat muscles to relax, Dr. Suurna says. So, opt for non-drowsy options or nasal sprays when you can (e.g. Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra).
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