Snoring doesn’t just ruin sleep, it strains relationships too.
As anybody who shares a bed knows, when it comes to snoring, often it’s the person who ISN’T afflicted with the condition that actually suffers most.
It’s believed a quarter of us are snorers – which leaves three-quarters of us struggling to get a good night’s sleep, and having to put up with the frustration of being kept awake by our bedfellow’s grunts and growls.
So, in the name of love, sleep and sanity, what can snoring sufferers do to stop snoring (and, for sufferees, where exactly should you aim your elbow).
Dr Chis Idzikowski, director of the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, and president of Sleep Medicine Section of the Royal Society Medicine, has these top tips…
1. Don’t sleep on your back
Try not to sleep on your back, as this often means your tongue falls back and increases airway resistance. “Try and use pillows as bolsters to keep you on your side,” says Dr Idzikowski. Some experts even suggest sewing a tennis ball into a pocketed T-shirt, wearing it back-to-front, and using that as your ‘propper-upper’.
2. Humidify your bedroom
A lot of snoring is caused either by nasal congestion or by allergies, so sleeping in cleaner air, ie – with a humidifier – should help ease this.
3. Give up smoking
It’s bad for most things, so it’s not surprising smoking is bad for snoring too. Basically, cigarette smoke will irritate and inflame the linings of your nose and throat, making it more difficult to breathe – especially when you’re lying down at night. Even if you can’t give up the fags entirely, experts do recommend at least holding off for four hours before you go to bed.
4. Lose weight
Again, as with many health issues, losing excess weight can really benefit snorers. “People who are overweight tend to snore more,” says Dr Idzikowski. “Losing weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring.”
5. Especially on your neck
The size of your neck has a lot of bearing on if you snore, and “if you have been snoring for a long time then it’s possible that the blood vessels that supply the muscles that maintain neck and throat tone during the night have been damaged by the excess weight,” says Dr Idzikowski. “Similarly, the nerves that also prevent snoring may also have been affected so muscle tone is impaired.”
6. Be careful with dinner
“We know about foods that increase snoring but not those that decrease it,” says Dr Idzikowski. “Avoid caffeine, heavy meals and dairy two hours before bed. Some snoring is caused by allergic reactions that inflame the throat, or increase mucus production, and milk and dairy products may increase mucus production (but the evidence is quite poor).”
7. Tone up
“All exercising, including abdominal exercises, actually tone your muscles around the throat area which can lead to less snoring.”