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Snoring Causes and Possible Solutions to Improve Your Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 90 million Americans snore. For 37 million of them, it occurs regularly and is a typical part of their sleeping routine. Not only can snoring worsen as you age, it can also lead to poor sleep health, which can open you up to all sorts of health problems. If you snore, getting down to the root of the problem is key.


Snoring occurs when the muscles in your throat are in relaxation mode, which is the case when you sleep. As you fall into deep sleep, your throat muscles relax and your tongue falls backwards. With every breath you take in and out, your throat vibrates — this is what causes the characteristic sound of snoring.

As your airway becomes narrower, the louder the snoring becomes because the vibrations become greater. This is because the air struggles to get through. In some cases, obstructions in the airway can occur, causing impaired breathing and louder snoring. Sleep apnea is one example of this disorder.

Besides sleep apnea, common snoring triggers include:

The anatomy of your mouth — Having enlarged tonsils or adenoids, a deviated nasal septum nasal polyps can worsen the narrowing of the throat during sleep. People who have a low and thick soft palate may also have a narrower airway.

Nasal problems — Nasal congestion as well as inflammation in the nose and/or throat, such as a respiratory infection or allergy attack, can lead to snoring.

Sleep deprivation — Failing to get enough sleep at night can cause further throat relaxation.

Alcohol intake — Drinking alcohol, especially before bedtime, can prompt the throat muscles to relax, as well as lower your natural defenses against airway obstruction.

Sleeping on your back — One study found that 54% of snorers develop the condition due to their sleeping position. Called "positional snorers,” they only snore when they lie on their backs.

So how can you stop snoring? Simple tips include: maintain a healthy weight, avoid alcohol, tobacco and sedatives, avoid drinking milk at night and avoid eating a large meal before bed. After getting checked out by a physician to rule out sleep apnea, try these simple home remedies:

Sleep sideways — For some, this simple remedy may be effective, as it prevents the tongue from falling backward in the throat and causing an obstruction in the airway.

Raise the head of your bed — Doing this can help prevent your airways from collapsing. Try placing a 4-inch-thick wedge or block under your mattress to elevate it.

Use a steam bowl — Just before bedtime, put your head over a bowl of hot water, cover it with a towel and inhale the steam deeply. This will help clear out your airways and minimize swelling in your nasal passages.

Try nasal strips or an external nasal dilator — Adhesive strips can be applied to the bridge of your nose so that your nasal passage area can be broadened, improving your breathing. Dilators are applied externally across the nostrils to decrease airflow resistance and allow easier breathing (This will not work for those who have sleep apnea).