It’s easy to make fun of snoring, but it’s no joke for millions of men and women. Snoring disrupts their sleep and the sleep of their partner, leading to sleep deprivation, irritability, and a lower quality of life. Snorers often suffer emotional distress and guilt at the thought of keeping their partner awake. Partners who want to sleep together are frequently forced to sleep in separate rooms when one or both snore.
Snoring may also be a symptom of a more serious condition such as obstructive sleep apnea.
Habitual snoring affects about 40 percent of men and 24 percent of women. It tends to get worse with age: 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women over the age of 65 habitually snore. But, in many cases, snorers can reduce the volume and frequency of snoring with lifestyle changes and by managing their sleeping position.
Why Do People Snore?
The familiar snoring sound is caused by vibrations in various parts of the throat and airway. The uvula, tongue, and soft palate relax while we sleep, obstructing the flow of air and giving rise to vibrations.
Most of us snore at some point in our lives, but snoring is made louder and more frequent by factors that exacerbate airway constriction or relaxation, such as obesity, weakness of the throat muscles, or a genetic predisposition.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the same factors as snoring, but to a greater extent. Snoring occurs when the throat relaxes and airways narrow. With obstructive sleep apnea, the airways close completely and the sleeper stops breathing. Carbon dioxide levels in the blood rise and the brain forces the sleeper awake. This cycle can happen dozens of times a night.
Snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, which can be dangerous. But many people who snore don’t have obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re worried that you may have sleep apnea, consult a medical professional.
Reducing Snoring with Lifestyle Changes
It is possible to reduce snoring with lifestyle changes. The most common cause of snoring is obesity. Fat in the tissues around and inside the throat narrows the airway and makes snoring more likely. Weight loss is one of the most reliable ways to reduce snoring.
Medication and alcohol can also cause the throat to relax more than usual, including sleeping pills and antihistamines. There is some evidence that smoking can make snoring worse, and medical professionals advise snorers to stop smoking.
Equipment to Reduce Snoring
There are many anti-snoring products on the market. Whether they work for you depends on the specific causes of your snoring.
- Nasal strips — snoring can be somewhat reduced by nasal strips that dilate the nostrils. Nasal strips are unlikely to “cure” snoring, but they can reduce the volume.
- Decongestant — congested airways make snoring worse. That’s why many people snore when they have a cold but not otherwise. Decongestants can help with snoring caused by colds and flu, but they should not be used for long periods.
- Mandibular advancement devices (MAD) — these devices hold the lower jaw and tongue forward, helping to keep the airways open. They are effective for “tongue snorers” but less so for snoring caused by other parts of the throat.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines — CPAP machines provide air pressure that keeps the airways open via a face mask. They are often used to treat obstructive sleep apnea and can help with snoring too.
The exact cause of snoring depends on the individual, so it may be worth experimenting with anti-snoring equipment until you find a solution that works for you.
Upper Body Elevation To Reduce Snoring
Sleeping flat on your back can make snoring much worse. In this position, gravity and the structure of the throat combine to close down airways and exacerbate snoring. Sleeping on your side alleviates some snoring in some cases. However, for many sleepers, side-sleeping feels unnatural. Sleepers with disabilities or age-related conditions may not be able to sleep on their side.
Raising the upper body while sleeping on your back is effective at reducing snoring. This position feels natural for most sleepers and it helps to prevent the throat from collapsing.
An adjustable home hospital bed is the most comfortable and convenient way to raise the head of the bed. High-quality home hospital beds such as Transfer Master’s Supernal 5 feature electronic head adjustments that can be set to a comfortable upright position. The Supernal 5 also features a tilt adjustment to raise the upper body.
For snorers who sleep with a partner who may prefer not to sleep with a raised head, we also offer Dual King adjustable beds, with two sets of independent adjustments.
To learn more about home hospital beds and to get advice from a hospital bed expert, contact us today.