Not all snorers are created equal. The market is flooded with snoring products promising you a good night’s sleep. The reason why there is no silver bullet to solve everyone’s snoring problem is due to the fact that snoring is caused by a great multiplicity of factors: weight gain, fatigue, medication, stress, and common cold symptoms. Then there are anatomical issues: elongated uvula, enlarged tonsils, low soft palate, deviated septum, low soft palate, and nasal polyps. In order to rule out any anatomical issue, you should go see an Ear, Throat, and Nose Specialist (ETN). Now it’s clear why one single product cannot address the myriads of conditions coupled with the fact that snoring can occur in three different locations: the mouth, the back of the throat, and the nose as shown below.
So, what is the promising solution to this rather complicated condition? Over the last 20 years, there have been a variety of products made available on the marketplace from the traditional prescription steroid nasal sprays, over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal strips to devices such as mouth guards, chin straps, tongue retainers, and nasal dilators. More recently, sleep tech gadgets like a watch that vibrates every time you snore, a pillow that inflates to change your head position, and a snore belt (shown below) worn like a backwards fanny pack that prevents you from lying flat on your back. Most have been found to have side effects and be cumbersome and expensive or simply ineffective. These products don’t address the actual causes(s) of snoring (or sleeping altogether).
There are many proven techniques that can help you stop snoring which require patience and some lifestyle changes. The first step is to keep a sleep diary to monitor your snoring. Your non-snoring partner can observe your patterns. Sleep positions reveal a lot and figuring out how you snore can reveal why you snore. When you know why you snore, you’ll be one step closer to a solution. For example, closed-mouth snoring may indicate swelling of the tongue where open-mouthed snoring may indicate that your sinuses are blocked. There are many lifestyle changes you can do on your own to help stop snoring.
- Lose weight. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop your snoring.
- Exercise can also help to stop snoring. Working out to tone your arms, legs, and abs, for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring.
- Quit smoking. If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high, which in turn can lead to less snoring.
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives especially before bedtime, because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing.
- Clear nasal passages. A stuffy nose makes inhalation difficult and creates a vacuum in your throat, which in turn leads to snoring. You can do it naturally with a Neti Pot or a natural nasal spray.
- Keep bedroom air moist with a humidifier. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat.
- Avoid caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed, especially dairy products and soy milk.
- Sleep on your side. Avoid sleeping on your back, as gravity makes it more likely for your tongue and soft tissues to drop and obstruct your airway.