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Sleep expert reveals the low-cost everyday item that can help stop loud snoring for good

how to stop snoring

Snoring, often dismissed as a mere nuisance, can significantly disrupt sleep patterns and strain relationships.

Whether you’re the culprit or sharing a bed with one, the quest to a peaceful night’s snooze is a common one. 

But before you insist on separate bedrooms there are several simple strategies that can help reduce the severity of snoring. From simple bedtime adjustments to more targeted remedies and household gadgets, these tricks can lead to quieter nights and a more restful bedtime for everyone.

Bensons sleep expert, Dr Sophie Bostock explains how a tennis ball could be the key to a good night’s sleep; “Many people notice that snoringgets worse when they lie on their backs. Lying on your back is likely to make the jaw open, allowing the base of the tongue and soft palate to collapse to the back wall of the throat, causing a vibrating sound.”

“Anything you can do to keep yourself positioned on your side could help; some people find a line of pillows, or even a tennis ball sewn into the back of your pyjamas which will make it uncomfortable to turn over onto your back.”

For a less severe solution Dr Bostock recommends an extra pillow which can elevate the head or side sleeping pillow, both of which can help to promote a quieter sleeping position.

When tackling snoring, Dr Bostock also emphasises that it’s important to address the possibility of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which unlike “normal” snoring, is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Warning signs of OSA, include a temporary pause in breathing, choking or gasping for breath during sleep, and extreme sleepiness during the day.  “Sleep apnoea pushes you out of the deepest phases of sleep.  So, you can be in bed for nine hours, but actually, you get very little deep, restorative sleep.”

For both snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnoea, regular exercise can be extremely beneficial. 

She also champions myofunctional therapy for the muscles of the tongue, mouth and throat. The tongue is a big muscular organ that can be strengthened with practice to prevent collapse during sleep.

According to a study in 2006, people who played the didgeridoo for three months actually reduced their snoring as the instrument toned the muscles in their throat and tongue.

For those without a wind instrument to hand, Dr Bostock recommends the following exercises to help strengthen the tongue:

o    Push the tip of the tongue up against the hard palate and slide the tongue backwards, 20 times.

o    Suck the tongue upwards so it presses all against the palate, 20 times.

o    Force the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the front incisor teeth, 20 times.

o    Elevate the soft palate while saying the vowel “A”, 20 times.

 

In addition, she recommends that the below simple lifestyle changes can also help to reduce snoring:

Top tips to stop snoring

1.  Lose weight

If you’ve gained weight and your snoring has got worse, losing weight is likely to be the most effective strategy.

2.  Take regular physical activity

Even if you’re already slim, regular exercise can improve circulation and overall muscular tone, which can reduce fluid retention, strengthen the muscles around the airways, and help prevent collapse during sleep.

3.  Limit your alcohol intake

Go easy on alcohol – this will also help your sleep quality; if you are going to drink, try and stop a few hours before bed.

4.  Look for alternatives to sedative

Speak to your doctor about reducing sleeping pills if you’re taking them; there are more effective non-drug solutions for poor sleep, and they may be making your snoring worse.

5.  Prevent the jaw from moving backwards

One of the best ways to prevent the tongue from collapsing backwards is to ensure that the jaw, or mandible, stays forward. You can wear a device that looks like a gumshield, called a ‘mandibular advancement device’ which helps to keep the airway open. These devices have been shown to reduce snoring and may also reduce OSA for some patients. These can feel uncomfortable to begin with, so it’s worth asking your dentist to fit a device to you.

6.  Improve airflow through your nose 

If you know that you suffer from nasal congestion, using an adhesive nasal dilator strip can help you improve the airflow through your nose. Some people also find decongestants or antihistamines helpful. A warm bath or shower before bed can also help clear your nostrils and get the body ready for sleep.

7.  Prevent excessive mouth breathing

If you snore and wake up with a dry mouth, you might be breathing through your mouth, rather than your nose. This makes breathing less efficient and is often associated with fatigue. Practice breathing more through your mouth during the day. 

8.  Avoid getting over tired

If you’re exhausted your muscles are more likely to get into a state of deep relaxation which can have the same effects as alcohol.

9.  Speak to a specialist

If none of these methods work, or you suspect sleep apnoea, speak with your GP. Sleep apnoea is diagnosed via an overnight sleep test. You may be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, or a Sleep Centre.

For more information, please head to the Bensons Sleep Hub website.

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