Do you lie awake at night wishing that you could sleep while deeply desiring to punch your partner in the face to get him to stop snoring? Or maybe you are the one who snores and you know that your spouse can’t get any sleep but is too nice to do anything about it so he just quietly moves to the sofa. Getting a good night’s sleep is a critical part of living a healthy life, and snoring can keep not only you—but your whole family—from enjoying healthy sleep patterns.
If your snoring is very loud, then your own health may also be at risk due to a serious health condition called sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which the body stops breathing at random intervals during sleep. Most commonly this happens due to blocked airways, called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This leads to snoring because the loose tissue in the neck and throat vibrate and create sounds when you are trying to breathe.
A less common form of sleep apnea is Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). In this case, the body also stops breathing but it is due to the brain malfunctioning and “forgetting” to tell the respiratory system to breathe. This may be caused by certain brain damage due to infections, injury, or drug use.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
More than 15 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, and even more are snorers. If you or someone in your family has sleep apnea, the likelihood is that they will exhibit some of these signs and symptoms:
- Loud snoring (often punctuated by silence)
- Headaches upon waking up
- Occasionally waking up with a choking sensation or gasping for air
- Insomnia or inability to go back to sleep when awakened
- Sleepiness during the day
- Mood changes, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, poor work performance
- Waking up with a dry or sore throat
- Shortness of breath upon waking up
- High blood pressure
- Fatigue, exhaustion, and low energy levels
Snoring/Sleep Apnea Treatment
Of course nothing should be replacing the care of a medical professional. Sleep apnea is a very serious condition that can lead to other dangerous health problems, so it should not be taken lightly. However, if your doctor believes that you do not necessarily need serious treatment for your snoring or sleep apnea, trying some of these more natural home remedies might be just the thing to help you (and your partner or roommate!) sleep better at night.
Snoring/Sleep Apnea Pillows
Adjusting your sleep position can make a huge difference in the amount of snoring you do as well as the number of sleep apnea episodes you encounter. Sleeping on the back gives the most opportunity for the body to snore as gravity pulls the tissues down to create airway blockage. People who sleep on the side or stomach are much less likely to snore or have sleep apnea episodes, but sometimes specialized pillows are needed to help maintain a comfortable side sleeping position.
Because extra weight can not only cause snoring but also airway blockages, losing weight is often one of the first suggestions medical professionals make for those who are trying to limit snoring. Even ridding yourself of a few extra pounds can make a big difference in snoring. The struggle here is that people who are not sleeping well often find it difficult to lose weight. If this is you, seek the attention of a doctor to help get support of in losing weight to stop snoring.
Use an Anti-Snoring Device
These come in a variety of styles, and which one you choose may be determined by the reason you are snoring. If you are a mouth breather, a simple jaw-strap design may help to keep the jaw from falling open and causing snoring. If you snore because your nose is congested, consider a magnetic nose clip to help restore proper air flow through the nasal passages. Some people who snore benefit from the use of a mouthpiece that keeps the mandibular joint aligned and may minimize snoring as well as teeth grinding.
Quit Smoking, Drinking, and Using Sedatives
Smoking and drinking alcohol have both been linked with inflammation of the airways as well as fluid retention. This can disturb the sleep and cause snoring. In addition, people who smoke are at least three times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea than those who have never smoked. Prescription tranquilizers as well as over-the-counter sleep aids can actually do you more harm than good, worsening snoring and making sleep apnea more prevalent. Try more natural sleep aid such as drinking chamomile tea or diffusing lavender essential oils instead.
Get a Humidifier
Dry air in the room can irritate the throat and breathing passages, causing congestion and snoring. People who sleep with a humidifier (even better if using it with eucalyptus essential oil) will have more open breathing passages and be less likely to snore.
Some people have found that honey’s anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce swelling in the mouth and throat, minimizing the occurrence of snoring. In addition, honey acts as a lubricant so adding a spoonful of honey to a glass of warm water and drinking before bed can be very helpful to promote healthy breathing during sleep.
As a stimulant, caffeine can inhibit your ability to sleep well, and can interfere with the restorative sleep that is often so difficult for people with sleep apnea to get. If you need your morning coffee, then be sure not to drink caffeine after noon. Minimizing your nap-taking could also help you get into a better sleeping routine.
Whether you are snoring due to mild sleep apnea, or you’re just someone who struggles to keep quiet when you sleep, there are various natural remedies you can apply. Anything you can do to open up the breathing passages and help the air flow will likely help you to decrease the friction between the tissues and promote less snoring as well as reducing sleep apnea episodes. Sleep apnea is a complicated medical disorder that involves many factors so be sure that you have the care and support of a doctor or sleep specialist if you suspect that you have it.
Read also: Natural Sleep Aids for Insomnia