As many as 45 percent of people snore. But what may seem like a harmless habit can take a toll on your relationship, your memory, and even your health. In fact, three out of four people who snore have obstructive sleep apneaA condition in which a person stops breathing for at least 10 seconds. These pauses occur repeatedly during sleep.
Click to learn more, a type of snoring that causes you to stop breathing for brief periods, disrupts your sleep so you’re more likely to feel fatigued during the day, and raises your risk for heart disease. But if you’re feeling helpless about this habit that strikes when you’re fast asleep, have no fear. Below, 10 smart ways to put those midnight log-sawing sessions to rest—and finally wake up feeling refreshed.
1. Keep a Sleep Diary There are plenty of factors that can contribute to snoring, and one way to pinpoint what makes your snoring better—or worse—is to look for patterns. Keep a notebook by the bed and ask your partner for help tracking when you snore more or less than usual. Then add details like what you ate (or drank) for dinner and when, what time you went to sleep, and what position you were sleeping in when the snoring started.
2. Lose Weight Sure, there are plenty of reasons to shoot for a healthy weight. And you can add “less snoring” to that list. Extra weight can narrow your airway, making your nighttime breathing more likely to be noisy.
3. Exercise Weak muscles around your airway are more likely to collapse while you sleep, triggering snoring. But surprise: Just like regular exercise can tone your arms, legs, and belly, it also tones the muscles of your throat, which can help you stop snoring.
4. Get Enough Sleep Late nights plus early mornings can spell snore-filled slumber. That’s because when your head finally hits the pillow, you’re overtired and your throat’s muscles are slack and prone to snoring.
5. Quit Smoking As if you needed one more reason to kick the habit, smoking irritates your airways, contributing to snoring.
6. Avoid Alcohol That evening gin and tonic can turn you into a nighttime nuisance even if you finish it four to five hours before bed. That’s because alcohol (as well as other sedatives like sleeping pills) cause the muscles in your throat to relax.
7. Sleep On Your Side Sleeping on your back is one of the most easily modifiable sleep habits that can cause snoring. But while it’s easy to tell yourself to sleep on your side when you’re awake, you may find all bets are off once you’re out. Try placing a pillow behind your back, or even affixing tennis balls to the back of your PJs to keep you from rolling over. It may not be comfortable, but your bed partner is going to be much happier to sleep sans the noise of a freight train in their bed!
8. Clear Your Nose You’ll be less likely to snore if your nasal passages are unobstructed, because that’ll provide an open passage for the air you breathe. Try a warm shower before bed, use a neti pot or saline spray to flush out your nose, try nasal strips to widen your nostrils, and consider keeping a humidifier in your bedroom to keep the air moist (aim for 50% humidity in the bedroom).
9. Elevate Your Head Propping up the head of your mattress with small blocks can help to take pressure off your airway so that it’s easier to breathe while you sleep. Just make sure to prop up your whole upper body since lifting just your head can actually have the opposite effect.
10. Get Rid of Allergens Dust your ceiling fans, wash your sheets and blankets, and throw your pillows in the dryer on fluff every few weeks to help rid your bedroom of dust mites, dander, and other airway-aggravating allergens. Another trigger to consider banishing from the bed: pets. Fluffy may be none too happy, but if less pet dander yields silent nights, it may be well worth it.