- Rose Kennedy For the AJC
Lose any sleep from your own or your partner's snoring lately?
For many Americans, it's a lethargic yes. Snoring is a buzz kill, a sleep robber and maybe an indicator of serious health issues, including the obstructive sleep apnea that can lead to heart disease.
Some 90 million American adults snore, according to sleepfoundation.org, and many could find relief with general health solutions. The Mayo Clinic recommends getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night if you snore, for example, or losing weight since overweight people can have extra throat tissues that contribute to snoring.
There are also expensive, extensive solutions like oral devices, according to dentist Gene Sambataro. The mandibular advancement device designed to remove obstructions in the airway, for example, "is one of the most widely-accepted dental appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea, useful in forcing the lower jaw down and forward slightly," he says.
Sambataro, a holistic clinician and author of the book “Stop the Snore”, recommends checking out some of the more unusual stop-storing methods, too, until you find something that works for you or your partner.
"Be careful not to look for quick fixes," he adds. "There are remedies out there – traditional and unconventional – but you should be thorough to remedy what can be a serious problem."
Sleep on a tennis ball. Lying on your back when you sleep puts greater pressure on your throat, so shifting to your side may work to quiet loud snoring, Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told Huffington Post. To improve your odds of actually staying asleep on your side, sew a tennis ball into the front pocket of an old t-shirt, then wear the shirt backwards to bed. This should make it super uncomfortable to lie on your back once you drift off. Once you've adjusted to the new sleep position (and stopped snoring), you can ditch the uncomfy shirt.
Buy a longer pillow. According to Reader's Digest, a full-length body pillow can help you adjust to sleeping on your side.
Do tongue aerobics. Sounds a little odd, and you may not want an audience, but strengthening your tongue and the facial muscles you use to chew and swallow with exercises known as "myofunctional therapy" can work wonders with snoring, according to Sambataro. "Muscle weakness within the tongue, mouth, and upper throat may lead to snoring and obstructive sleep apnea," he says.
Change out your pillows. No, you're not trying to re-decorate the snoring away. Instead, you're after the allergens in your bedroom and in your pillow that may contribute to snoring. "If you feel fine during the day but obstructed at night, these things may be contributing to your snoring," Sambataro says. "Everyone should evaluate whether your pillows are creating some nasal congestion due to a reaction to the material."
Pop a bit of peppermint. A drop or two of peppermint oil rubbed around your nose may be able to open nasal passages, and peppermint mouthwash could shrink throat tissue that contributes to snoring, according to RD.
Mix mint into the humidifier. If you have the option to use a humidifier at night, bump your odds of opening your nasal passages by adding a few drops of peppermint oil to the water, RD suggested.
Combat snoring with a nose cone. Sambataro also suggests nose cones you place in each nostril to expand it. "This technique has a similar effect as strips, without the irritation of removing them in the morning," he notes.
Nod off after nasal sprays. With regular use, sprays will help get rid of the bacteria and fungus that produce mucous and eventually obstruct the nasal airway, Sambataro noted.