These 7 tips will help stop snoring
Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on February 13, 2022.
You may be among the 45% of adults who snore at least occasionally, or you may know someone who does. You may joke about it ("Uncle Joe snores so loud the windows rattle!"), but snoring is serious business.
For one thing, a snoring person often keeps his or her partner from getting a restful night's sleep, which can be very distressing. "Snoring can cause real problems in a marriage," says Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas.
Not only is snoring annoying, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is interrupted for short periods during sleep), which increases the risk of heart disease, Slaughter says.
Be wary of self-medicating with over-the-counter sprays and pills before consulting your doctor, says Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, program director of clinical neurophysiology and sleep medicine at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J. "Many remedies for snoring are marketed without scientific studies to support their claims," says Chokroverty, who is also a professor of neuroscience at Seton Hall University's School of Health and Medical Sciences.
Instead, try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes that can help you stop snoring.
1. Change your sleeping position.
When you lie on your back, the base of your tongue and soft palate press against the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound while you sleep. Sleeping on your side can prevent this.
"A body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports the entire body) is an easy solution," Slaughter says. "It allows you to continue sleeping on your side and can make a big difference.
Putting tennis balls on the back of your pajamas can also keep you from sleeping on your back, Chokroverty says. "Or you can recline the bed with your head up and stretched out, which can open the nasal passages and prevent snoring. However, this can lead to neck pain.
If snoring persists regardless of sleeping position, obstructive sleep apnea may be the cause. "In this case, you should see a doctor," Chokroverty says.
2. Lose weight.
Weight loss helps some people, but not all. "Thin people snore, too," Slaughter says.
If you've gained weight and are starting to snore, but weren't snoring before the weight gain, weight loss can help. "When you gain weight around the neck, the inside diameter of the throat is compressed, so it's more likely to collapse during sleep, which leads to snoring," Slaughter says.
3. Avoid alcohol.
Alcohol and sedatives decrease the resting tone of the muscles in the back of the throat, making snoring more likely. "If you drink alcohol four to five hours before bedtime, snoring gets worse," Chokroverty says. "People who don't normally snore will snore after drinking alcohol.
4. Make sure you have good sleep hygiene.
Poor sleep habits (also known as "poor sleep hygiene") can have a similar effect as alcohol consumption, Slaughter says. For example, if you work long hours without getting enough sleep, you'll be overtired when you finally go to bed. "You sleep hard and deep, and your muscles get slacker, which leads to snoring," Slaughter says.
5. Open nasal passages.
If snoring starts in the nose, it can help to keep the nasal passages open. This allows air to pass through more slowly, Slaughter says. "Imagine a narrow garden hose with water flowing through it. The narrower the hose, the faster the water flows through."
Your nasal passages work similarly. If your nose is blocked or constricted due to a cold or other blockage, the fast-moving air is more likely to cause snoring.
Taking a hot shower before bed can help open up nasal passages, Slaughter says. Place a bottle of saltwater rinse in the shower. "Rinse your nose with it while you shower to open the airways," Slaughter says.
You can also use a nasal douche to flush out your nasal passages with a saltwater solution.
Nose strips can also help lift and open nasal passages - if the problem is in the nose and not the soft palate.
6. Change Your Pillows.
Allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow may contribute to snoring. When did you last dust the overhead ceiling fan? Replace your pillows?
Dust mites accumulate in pillows and can cause allergic reactions that can lead to snoring. Allowing pets to sleep on the bed causes you to breathe in animal dander, another common irritant.
"If you feel fine during the day but obstructed at night, these things may be contributing to your snoring," Slaughter says.
Put your pillows in the air fluff cycle once every couple weeks and replace them every six months to keep dust mites and allergens to a minimum. And keep pets out of the bedroom.
Beware before spending money on special pillows designed to prevent snoring, Chokroverty says. "They may work if it props up your head, which fixes nasal issues, but can cause neck pain."
7. Stay Well Hydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids. "Secretions in your nose and soft palate become stickier when you're dehydrated," Slaughter says. "This can create more snoring." According to the Institute of Medicine, healthy women should have about 11 cups of total water (from all drinks and food) a day; men need about 16 cups.
Overall, get enough sleep, sleep on your side, avoid alcohol before bedtime and take a hot shower if nasal passages are clogged, Slaughter says. "These simple practices can make a huge difference in reducing snoring."