Health and Wellbeing
How to Stop Snoring Naturally
Let’s face it, there’s nothing great about snoring. It’s not good for those sharing your sleeping space and it’s certainly not good for your health and energy levels.
What causes snoring?
Although the shape of your face, skull and neck could make you more susceptible to snoring - and a blocked nose, enlarged tonsils and a heavy night of alcohol will make things worse; the single most common cause is slack throat muscles.
At night, when we drift into the deepest phases of sleep and all our muscles relax, the tissues at the back of the throat can become floppy, causing the air that passes through them to make a noise like a flag flapping in the wind. The volume and intensity of those sounds depend partly on the turbulence of the airflow (how hard you have to force the lungs to push air through this restricted space) and partly on the resonance (or floppiness) of the tissues of your throat. These include the soft palate (the fleshy part at the back of the roof of the mouth), the uvula (the dangly thing at the back of your throat) and the epiglottis (the flap of tissue which sits beneath the tongue at the back of the throat and closes the windpipe while you are eating to prevent food entering your airways).
As these tissues vibrate, they trap air against the back wall of the throat for a split second, causing a high-pressure build-up of air and subsequent sound waves. If you are overweight the problem - and volume - will be exacerbated as layers of fat increase the pressure on the windpipe when you are lying down, forcing your lungs to work harder to push air through the restricted gap.
A few drinks will make snoring worse too. This is because alcohol acts as a sedative, keeping you for longer in the deep sleep that relaxes all your muscles - including the muscles of your throat and tongue.
What are the side effects of snoring?
The snorer might sound as if they are blissfully sleeping, but their body will be struggling to get air in and out through slack and floppy airways and this extra effort will ultimately compromise the quality of the deeply restorative phases of sleep. This is the time when the vitally important mental and physical repair process is supposed to happen, and the heart should be able to slow down and rest.
Although snoring is more likely to occur if you are overweight, it can also trap you in a vicious cycle whereby the snoring itself triggers weight gain. Studies show poor sleep typically stimulates the appetite for sweet and fatty foods as your body fights to cope with fatigue. As long-term snoring causes protracted sleep deprivation, which in turn means your snoring worsens, the weight piles on. This then increases your risk of obesity-related disorders such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.
Relationship and Sex Dilemmas
Sadly, snoring can be a potent trigger for relationship problems as bitterness, ridicule and resentment build up. Studies show that for around 6 per cent of couples, bad snoring can be enough to trigger marriage breakdown. Snorers, and therefore their bed partners, rarely get close to achieving even the lower recommended target of six hours of restful sleep each night. Studies also indicate that the partner of a snorer loses 90 minutes of sleep most nights and so gradually builds a sleep debt that can never be replenished.
Studies show men and women who are deprived of sleep report lower libido and less interest in sex due to depleted energy, sleepiness, and increased tension. Men are often alarmed to learn that snoring can have a direct effect on their ability to maintain an erection, too. Over time, the elevated blood pressure caused by regular snoring will damage the blood vessels, making them thicker and restricting blood flow - a problem which very often affects the tiny capillaries of the sex organs first.
How can you stop snoring?
So, this is the depressing news – but there is hope and we at Oak Tree Mobility are happy to share with you some practical measures that you can take to minimise or even abolish your snoring. Many of them are actually quite fun!
Strengthen The Airways
Spend five minutes doing each of these exercises in turn every day when you brush your teeth at night or in the morning. Aim to do them as fast as you can. As with any strength training, the more you do, the better your results will be.
Extend your tongue – Stick your tongue out straight as far as it will go. Try to touch the tip of your tongue to the end of your nose, and then your chin. Then move it to touch your left then right cheek. Repeat the four points quickly ten times.
Curl Your Tongue
Move the tip of your tongue backwards in your mouth, so it curls over towards the soft palate. Stretch it as far back as it will go, then bring it forward to touch the back of the upper teeth. Repeat quickly 15 times.
Humming Exercise 1
Grip the tip of your tongue gently between your teeth. Make a humming sound, starting deep then increase in frequency until it is as high-pitched as you can make it. Repeat ten times.
Humming Exercise 2
Start with your mouth as wide as it can go and stick your tongue out as far forward as you can. Hold this position while stretching your tongue up, down, and side to side for two full revolutions. While doing this, hum the tune to Happy Birthday or the National Anthem. Repeat the song in as deep a pitch as you can for at least two minutes.
Constrict and tighten throat muscles, and breathe from the throat making a deep sound from the throat. Do this for a minute.
Open your mouth as widely as you can and say ‘ahhhhhhhh,’ for 20 seconds. Repeat once.
With your mouth closed, breathe in sharply through the nose. You may snort a bit. Do this rapidly in four sets of five repetitions, with a five-second break between each set.
Pumping Breath or Kapalabati
With mouth closed, breathe out forcefully/ snort through the nose. Do this rapidly while engaging your stomach muscles.
3 sets of 10 reps with a 5-second breath in between each.
Swallow ten times consecutively with your mouth closed, as forcefully as you can.
Swallow very slowly in a controlled manner, making it last five seconds. Hold as much pressure as possible in the throat throughout.
Repeat five times.
Manage Your Weight
Studies indicate that a collar size of over 15 is more likely to increase chances of snoring. The key here is to minimise excess weight with regular exercise and following a healthy diet.
Keep those airway muscles well toned and hydrated by drinking around 2 litres of water per day and minimising diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol.
Sleeping on your back is more likely to make you snore. So make sure you are comfortable in your Oak Tree Mobility adjustable bed with good pillow support for your head and neck and try to sleep on your sides as much as possible.
The work of Patrick McKeown and many other respiratory specialists indicates that nasal breathing is not only more efficient and better for your health but it can significantly reduce snoring. If you have been a mouth breather for most of your life (as many people are) it might seem difficult to retrain your breathing but thankfully, there are very simple exercises that can help you make that shift to mouth breathing.
Do watch this informative interview with Patrick McKeown to learn more about how nasal breathing can help with snoring and improve your sleep and energy levels.
If you want to take things to the next level, you can even wear mouth strips at night which help to retrain your breathing.
Tips to sleep through snoring
There are some small changes that could really help with minimising snoring. For example, make sure the bedroom is cool – ideally around 19 degrees Centigrade - and well-ventilated. Having some form of white noise in the bedroom, such as a fan, or wearing earplugs might also help to minimise disturbance from your partner’s snoring. Finally, if all else fails you might want to sometime negotiate separate sleeping arrangements with your partner. Done lovingly and consciously, this might even save your relationship or, at least, maintain some harmony.