Are you tired of feeling tired from poor quality sleep due to snoring? Whether it’s you or your bed partner who snores, chances are neither of you is getting the quality rest you need to feel energized, refreshed, and alert throughout the day. .
What is snoring?
“Snoring is a problem related to the vibrational processes that occur when the muscles at the back of the throat relax,” says Dr. Green. “Most snoring comes from the back of the throat and the vibratory parts of this muscular tube; as the airflow passes, it becomes turbulent and causes vibrations,” which then produces the auditory sensation of snoring.
Fortunately, there are a number of expert tips you can adopt to successfully reduce snoring. These range from trying new sleeping positions (and avoiding some), to lifestyle adjustments and using products that help curb snoring.
Keep reading to learn the best anti-snoring tips from Katherine Green, ENT physician and dual-board certified sleep physician, MD, MS, medical director of the Sleep Center at the University of Colorado Hospital.
For more sleep health content, check out our guide to the best mattresses for all sleeping positions.
What are the best sleeping positions for snoring?
Dr. Green is careful to note that when it comes to sleeping positions and snoring, what works for some people may not work for others. However, she states that any range of sleeping positions in which you are not on your back has the potential to help reduce snoring.
“For some people, snoring may be more effective when you’re on your side, on your stomach, or if your head is elevated in bed,” she shares. And while she repeats that it’s impossible to say for sure that these sleeping positions will make you snore less, they’re worth trying if you’re on a mission to reduce snoring and get better shut-eye.
What are the worst sleeping positions for snoring?
“There is no position model that is 100% applicable to all patients. Because snoring is an anatomical problem, snoring technically originates from a different place in everyone,” says Dr. Green.
However, generally speaking, she agrees that sleeping flat on your back tends to be the worst position for people who snore. But why? “It’s just a matter of gravity,” she explains. “The tongue and soft palate are the largest muscles in the throat, and they droop when you sleep flat on your back,” increasing the risk of snoring.
5 anti-snoring tips from a sleep expert
In addition to testing new sleeping positions that may reduce snoring, follow these anti-snoring tips shared by Dr. Green:
1. Avoid alcohol before bed
When it comes to simple lifestyle practices to adopt, Dr. Green says limiting alcohol consumption near bedtime is one of the best anti-snoring tips you can follow. “Snoring will always be worse with alcohol,” she says, and advises avoiding it within three hours of bedtime. This “will make a significant difference in snoring and sleep quality”.
2. Practice sleep hygiene and find ways to manage your stress
Then, good sleep hygiene and stress management are also taken into account to optimize your bedtime routine to reduce snoring and promote good sleep. “Most people will snore more if they’re overtired, sleep-debted, and/or stressed,” says Dr. Green.
For this reason, she advises making sure to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, sticking to a regular sleep routine, and practicing healthy stress management techniques to avoid making snoring and problems worse. accompanying sleep.
3. Sleep with your mouth closed
Although this anti-snoring trick may take some effort to become a natural habit, chances are it can reduce the severity of snoring. “Keeping the mouth closed tends to keep the tongue in a more favorable position,” says Dr. Green.
“That’s why there are over-the-counter snoring solutions that, for some people, can help make breathing more comfortable and turbulence smoother.”
Conversely, Dr. Green says that mouth breathing will generally make you more prone to snoring, because “sleeping with your mouth open tends to exacerbate that relaxation in the back of your throat.”
However, she notes that “there are a lot of people who sleep with their mouths closed but can still snore like a freight train,” so keep in mind that this tip may not be fully applicable at all levels.
4. Try over-the-counter snoring remedies
When it comes to over-the-counter solutions for snoring, Dr. Green says there are several options available. These include chin straps, mouth tape, nasal strips (such as Breathe Right) to improve airflow, nasal dilators/sinus cones, and the Smart Nora pillow.
“All of these solutions have varying success rates,” she notes, so it may take some trial and error to figure out which OTC snoring solution is right for you. She also mentions that some of these solutions “won’t work if you have some degree of sleep apnea,” so it’s important to rule that out (we look at that below).
5. Get a mouth guard for snoring
Finally, wearing a mouth guard at night may be one of your best bets for reducing snoring. “Snoring mouth guards pull the jaw forward into a ‘bulldog position’ to also bring the tongue and soft palate forward a little,” says Dr. Green. This forward orientation can naturally reduce snoring since it limits the vibrations at the back of the throat that cause snoring in the first place.
While you can buy mouth guards for snoring over-the-counter and online (she calls SnoreRx and Zyppah in particular), in the long run, Dr. Green says the most effective are those that are custom-made at the dentist’s office. . “Adjustable mouth guards can be very beneficial for reducing snoring and can sometimes be helpful for mild sleep apnea as well,” she shares.
What your bed partner can do to help you
Finally, if you have a bed partner, Dr. Green says you can ask them to help you reduce snoring. She says this will require positional therapy, which you can think of as anti-snoring teamwork. With this method, your partner “pays attention to positional differences in snoring” and notices certain sleeping positions – likely your back – that may be contributing to your snoring problem.
From there, you can try sleeping in a different position. If you have trouble doing it yourself, “there are devices to keep you from sleeping on your back,” she adds.
At the same time, if your partner is having trouble sleeping due to snoring disturbance, Dr. Green suggests investing in a white noise machine and/or noise-canceling earplugs “to lessen the disturbance of sounds. environmental”.
When snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea
While making adjustments in your sleeping position and following these anti-snoring tips is a good place to start, you’ll need a different protocol if there’s a bigger underlying issue at play. question that I often focus on with patients is to begin to determine if snoring is just snoring or if it is a sign of some degree of obstructive sleep apnea,” shares Dr. Green. .
Yet, when it comes to sleep apnea, sometimes snoring is the only symptom present, and at other times there are no noticeable symptoms at all. That said, Dr. Green notes that sleep apnea may be present if you also tend to suffer from “fragmented sleep, feel tired or drowsy during the day, or if your bed partner sees or hears pauses or gaps in your sleep”.
“Many people have undiagnosed sleep apnea,” she continues, estimating that about 80 percent of people in the United States with the condition have yet to be diagnosed. “Sleep apnea is under-recognized and under-treated, and there’s likely a large cross population with poor sleep and snoring.”
In order to diagnose sleep apnea, Dr. Green recommends getting a home sleep test monitor, which will track your breathing and snoring levels. (You’ll need to have your GP or a sleep medicine specialist order it for you, which you’ll then collect from a lab. Dr. Green also notes that this test is usually covered by insurance.)
If you find you have sleep apnea, when treated effectively, usually via a CPAP machine, Dr. Green says it “eliminates snoring completely with a 100% success rate. However, if you don’t have sleep apnea and you follow the other interventions described above, you can expect your snoring to be at least “reduced in volume, intensity and frequency”.
This article is part of Tom’s Guide’s Sleep Week 2022 celebration, until Saturday, March 19. Stay tuned for lots of sleep tips, advice, and expert-reviewed products to help you sleep better this year.