Snoring is common, affecting as many as half of adults at one time or another. But when it happens all the time, it isn’t just a nuisance for those who are trying to sleep within earshot. It can cut into everyone’s sleep quality—including the person who is snoring. And it can be a marker of a more serious sleep problem like obstructive sleep apnea. Luckily, there are things that you can do to clear the air.
Sleep on your side.
If you’re a back sleeper, your tongue may fall back into your throat, partially blocking the airway and leading to noisy breathing and snoring. To re-train your body, borrow a trick from pregnant women, who are also told to sleep on their sides: Position a pillow behind your back to keep yourself from rolling over during the night.
Open your nostrils.
Anything that blocks airflow through your nose, from allergies to the shape of your nostrils, can contribute to mouth breathing—and snoring—during the night. Try nasal strips to make breathing through the nose easier. A nasal decongestant can also help if you’re dealing with a temporary cold or allergies.
Avoid alcohol before bed.
Make sure that last call is at least two hours before you turn in. Not only can alcohol disrupt your sleep patterns, but it can also cause the tissues in your throat to relax, contributing to snoring.
Tap into your musical side.
Singing or playing certain wind instruments may decrease the risk of obstructive sleep apnea, and may be an effective treatment for snoring. For example, daily practice on an instrument called the didgeridoo helped to cut down on daytime sleepiness among snorers with sleep apnea, possibly because it helps to train the muscles of the upper airway.
Talk to your doctor.
If lifestyle and over-the-counter treatments aren’t cutting it, or if you think that you might have obstructive sleep apnea, a doctor can help you consider additional treatment options, including a mouth guard, surgery, or even a CPAP machine to help you breathe more easily while you sleep.