Chronic fatigue, irritation, hostility, poor performance at work, and difficulty concentrating – these can all be caused by snoring, which scientists estimate 45% of us deal with. Although it’s often the topic of jokes, it’s actually a serious problem, as it usually occurs along with sleep apnoea, which increases the risk of diseases of the heart and the circulatory system, diabetes, and even strokes. If someone close to you is complaining about your snoring, see what you can do about it.
Clear your nose
Snoring is usually caused when you breathe through the mouth instead of the nose, which you’re forced to do when your nasal cavity is blocked. It’s important to see that it’s clear, allowing the unobstructed passage of air. How can you tell? First of all, find out what is causing this unpleasant ailment – it could be a disregarded infection, an allergy, or an inflammation of the sinuses. A temporary solution is also a warm shower, a bath, or inhaling vapour from a bowl – the steam will help clear the upper respiratory tract (to make the effect even stronger, you can pour a few drops of pine or eucalyptus oil into the water).
Avoid sleeping on your back
‘Sleeping on your back may cause snoring because the tongue falls backwards. This obstructs the airways and prevents air from flowing freely, which makes the flaccid part of the palate and the root of the tongue vibrate as it moves through the narrowing, generating unpleasant sounds,’ explains Dr Marta Held-Ziółkowska, an otolaryngologist from the Medicover Hospital. First and foremost, it’s a good idea to develop a habit of laying down to sleep on your side and putting a pillow behind your back, which will make it harder for you to turn on your back at night.
Check if the humidity level is right
Snoring worsens when you sleep in a room where the air is dry. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure the room’s humidity is sufficient. You don’t need to invest in a professional humidifier. All you need are wet towels hung in the room or a bowl of water, which will evaporate naturally.
Check your weight
‘Being overweight or obese means that excessive fat tissue accumulates not only around the stomach and thighs, but also around the neck. When you sleep, it presses on the airways, constricting them and forcing the air to move through the throat under much greater pressure. This may cause you to start snoring or may make your snoring worse if you already do,’ explains Dr Marta Held-Ziółkowska, a laryngologist at the Medicover Hospital. That is why it’s important to make sure your weight is normal, both because it will make you healthier in general and because it will help eliminate that irritating noise at night. Losing just a few of those extra kilograms is likely to improve the situation.
Watch out for stimulants
Alcohol is considered one of the factors that causes snoring, as it further reduces the tension of the throat muscles, which are already relaxed during sleep (certain drugs have a similar effect, including sleeping pills, sedatives, and antihistamines used in the treatment of allergies). Specialists recommend not drinking alcoholic beverages for at least three or four hours before bedtime. Smoking tobacco also doesn’t help give you peaceful (or quiet) dreams. Smoke irritates the mucous membrane lining the nasal cavity and throat, causing congestion and potentially leading to inflammation or swelling that could narrow the airways.
See a doctor
Doctors can recommend several effective ways of permanently eliminating snoring and the choice of a specific method depends on the cause of the problem. If hypertrophic tonsils, a deviated nasal septum, or sinus diseases are to blame, surgery may be necessary. However, if the muscles of the soft palate sag, a special procedure is performed which allows them to be stiffened. ‘It’s performed under local anaesthetic and the entire procedure takes little more than 10–15 minutes to complete. Three thin Pillar implants are inserted into the soft palate. They are small strips 2 millimetres wide and 18 millimetres long, made of the material heart valves and sutures are made of,’ explains Dr Marta Held-Ziółkowska. ‘Patients can’t see or feel them and they don’t affect speech or swallowing,’ she adds. If the palate is too long and lax, it can be shortened with radiofrequency surgery, which is not painful.