You may be among the 45% of normal adults who snore at least occasionally or you likely know someone who does. He (or she) may be the brunt of jokes at family gatherings ("Uncle Joe snores so loudly he rattles the windows!"), but snoring is serious business.
For one, a snoring spouse often keeps the other person from a good night's sleep, which can eventually lead to separate bedrooms. "Snoring can create real problems in a marriage," says Daniel P. Slaughter, MD, an otolaryngologist and snoring expert at Capital Otolaryngology in Austin, Texas.
Not only is snoring a nuisance, but 75% of people who snore have obstructive sleep apnea (when breathing is disrupted during sleep for short periods), which increases the risk of developing heart disease, Slaughter says.
Use caution before you self-treat with over-the-counter sprays and pills until you've checked with your doctor, says Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, program director for Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine at JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J. "Many stop-snoring aids are marketed without scientific studies to support their claims," says Chokroverty, who is also a neuroscience professor at Seton Hall University's School of Health and Medical Sciences.
Instead, try these natural solutions and lifestyle changes, which may help you stop snoring.
1. Change Your Sleep Position.
Lying on your back makes the base of your tongue and soft palate collapse to the back wall of your throat, causing a vibrating sound during sleep. Sleeping on your side may help prevent this.
"A body pillow (a full-length pillow that supports your entire body) provides an easy fix," Slaughter says. "It enables you to maintain sleeping on your side and can make a dramatic difference."
Taping tennis balls to the back of your pajamas can also stop you from sleeping on your back, Chokroverty says. "Or you can recline the bed with the head up and extended, which opens up nasal airway passages and may help prevent snoring. This may cause neck pain, however." If snoring continues regardless of the sleep position, obstructive sleep apnea may be a cause. "See a doctor in this case," Chokroverty says.