Four ways to reduce the noise pollution in your bedroom. Your body (and your spouse) will thank you.
Everyone snores at some point in their life. If it comes on suddenly, chances are you’re sick or you’ve had too much to drink. But if you regularly snore at night, it could be a sign of an underlying health problem—and you absolutely should do something about it.
Luckily, you can, says sleep medicine doctor and neurologist W. Christopher Winter, M.D., author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How to Fix It.
Snoring happens when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, Dr. Winter explains, causing them to vibrate as you breathe. That disrupts your sleep—night after night—which increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health conditions.
Here are four ways to bring peace to your bedroom.
Snoring Solution #1: Put a Pain in Your Back
Snoring tends to be worse when people sleep on their backs, Dr. Winter says, so try to fall asleep on your side or stomach.
Of course, there’s a good chance you’ll roll onto your back during the night. Prevent that by taping a tennis ball into the back of your shirt, if you don’t have any back issues or injuries. Or try a Rematee anti-snore shirt, which has inflatable bumpers to keep you on your side.
Snoring Solution #2: Stack Pillows
Use a second or even a third pillow to keep your head in an elevated position, recommends Dr. Winter. This prevents the tissues in your throat from flapping around when air hits them.
Alternatively, an adjustable bed with a snore setting will elevate your head for you—and may be more comfortable, Dr. Winter says.
Snoring Solution #3: Don’t End Your Day with a Nightcap
Alcohol can also make snoring worse by relaxing your throat muscles, Dr. Winter says. Keep an eye on your intake. If your snoring is louder on nights you’ve had alcohol, cut back. Also avoid drinking alcohol within two hours of bedtime.
Snoring Solution #4: Drop a Few Pounds
Your snoring is likely to be worse if you’re overweight, Dr. Winter says. This happens because neck fat (yes, it’s a thing) constricts your airway ever so slightly.
When Snoring May Be a Danger Sign
If you’re a heavy snorer, there’s a chance you have a condition known as sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by breathing that stops and starts while you sleep, Dr. Winter says.
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common form of the condition, happens when your throat muscles relax. Snoring is usually the result, but if the relaxation in your throat muscles becomes too great, your airway can close. That causes your brain to scare you awake so that you can catch your breath.
Sleep apnea is connected with a host of serious health conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes, so it’s definitely something you want to get checked out.
Worth noting: It’s possible to have sleep apnea and not realize it, or even be aware that you’re waking up at night.
If you try the home remedies above and they fail, or you notice any sneaky signs of sleep apnea, talk to your doctor or a sleep medicine specialist about next steps. It’s important to stay on top of snoring—if nothing else, it could help you (and the people around you) sleep a lot better at night.
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