July 11, 2016 5 min read

Snoring. For many of us, it’s no laughing matter. No one wants to have their sleep disrupted by their own snoring, or be the butt of bad snoring jokes – and of course – no one wants to keep their partner awake at night, listening to them snoring. It’s a sensitive issue for both parties. And sometimes, a cause of great strain on relationships.

Just stop snoring!

If only we could just “stop snoring”. Sadly, it’s not that simple. Before you can simply quit snoring, it’s important to understand snoring and what causes you to snore.

What causes snoring?

Snoring is caused by air not being able to move freely through our nose and throat when we’re sleeping. This causes the surrounding tissues to vibrate which produces that snuffling, vibrating sound that we all know so well.

What causes snoring to occur? There are many reasons, including nasal congestion, obesity and alcohol. It is also thought that snorers have too much throat or nasal tissue, making the area more prone to vibration.

Alcohol is also one of the big snoring causes, with late-night drinking likely to increase the risk. Certain sleeping tablets and muscle relaxants also allow the tissues to relax more than usual, making the area floppy and prone to vibrating.

Your sleeping position may also be a factor. Sleeping on your back may cause your throat muscles and tongue to relax, with the tongue sliding further down the throat, compressing the airways, which can either cause snoring or make the snoring louder.

Allergens can also significantly contribute to snoring by inflaming the mucous membranes, causing the airways to narrow.

Could it be sleep apnoea?

Some individuals may think they are suffering from snoring, when in fact, they may be suffering from sleep apnoea. This is where the sufferer experiences repeated periods of partial or complete occlusions (blockages) in their airways while they sleep, causing them to gag or choke, then gasp for air. This causes them to pause in their breathing for a few seconds to up to several minutes – and usually means that the person wakes up briefly before settling back to sleep.

This broken sleep effect can happen many times in the night, which is exhausting for the sufferer, and means that they spend the daytime feeling sleepy, lethargic and un-refreshed.

For a positive diagnosis of sleep apnoea, the sufferer needs to be experiencing more than five episodes paused breathing per hour. Proper testing for sleep apnoea involves a visit to a sleep doctor and an overnight stay in sleep disorders clinic or a hospital for a sleep test called a polysomnogram (sleep study).

Treatment and snoring solutions

There is no such thing as a “cure for snoring”, but there are many successful snoring treatments. However, before you try and treat your (or your partner’s) snoring, you must find out what is causing it, so diagnosis by your doctor or a special sleep doctor is essential. Depending on the diagnosis, the following may give you some pointers on how to stop snoring naturally.

Lifestyle changes:

  • Limit or avoid alcohol in the evenings- as alcohol consumption can make snoring worse.
  • Have a hot shower before bed– this will help to cleanse and open the airways.
  • Give up smoking– smokers are more likely to snore than non-smokers.
  • If you have allergies -avoid any foods or beverages that exacerbate your allergies, and limit the number of allergens in the room by cleaning, dusting and changing the pillows regularly. We also recommend you try a Salin Plus Salt Therapy Device, which can help to remove dust and pollen from the air you breathe in the room while you sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping on your back - finding a way to avoid sleeping on your back is recommended as sleeping supine is known to exacerbate snoring. A body pillow to hug when lying on your side can make a dramatic difference. Breaking the habit by taping a tennis ball or other small ball to the back is also a handy trick. Alternatively, prop the head of the mattress up, so that your head is slightly higher than your feet.
  • Lose weight - losing weight may help free up the airways. However, it’s important to realise that some lean people snore too.
  • Stay hydrated – your soft palate becomes stickier if you are dehydrated, which encourages snoring.

Stop snoring devices:

MAS: Certain dentists specialise in ‘dental sleep medicine’ (or oral sleep medicine) which includes fitting anti-snoring devices. A common anti-snoring device is the mandibular advancement splint (MAS). This splint encourages the jaw to stay forward, which allows the airways to stay free at the rear of the throat. As long as the patient can tolerate the device, they can be very successful.

CPAP machines:CPAP machines are more suitable for those with sleep apnoea, rather than just snoring. It’s an involved treatment which requires wearing a mask during the night while sleeping. The use of a CPAP machine usually comes after a sleep apnoea diagnoses by a sleep doctor, who can help with the set up and correct use of the machine.  A CPAP machine can be expensive, with prices starting at around $1,000.  It’s recommended that people hire the device first to see if it’s for them before they make such an investment.

Nasal strips:Nasal strips can be an effective solution for snoring. These are adhesive devices with valve-type holes that are placed up the nose. The valve is open when you breathe in so that you can inhale easily, but only partially closes when you breathe out, which puts more pressure on the airways which keep the tissues from collapsing. This pressure then prevents the vibrating of the tissues and the resulting snoring. It’s worth noting, though, that some people may find these strips uncomfortable to wear.

Salt therapy device: Salt therapy devices, such as those offered by Salin Plus, can be of great benefit for those who suffer from snoring. Salt therapy devices not only helps remove dust and pollen from the air, but can clear respiratory congestion and break down mucous. A salt therapy device is a natural, non-invasive snoring solution, which helps to reduce soft palate swelling and clears the nasal passages, allowing clearer breathing through the nose – reducing the likelihood of snoring.

I heard that Salt Therapy was great for snoring and my wife, being a very light sleeper, was getting a little testy with me keeping her awake with my snoring at night. We plugged it in and after the first night my wife was like "wow, that was pretty good".

- Nick

If you suffer from snoring, there are many lifestyle changes and snoring solutions that you can try, outlined above. However, if your snoring is causing you or your partner serious distress or causing you to wake repeatedly at night, once again, we recommend you see your doctor or a specialist sleep doctor.