Snoring is quite possibly the most annoying disturbance to you and your partner’s sleep. Yet, this common problem is one usually left untreated and able to ruin a good night’s sleep for all in bed… And yes, that includes the dog. Why continue to suffer when treatment is one step away? This article will explain snoring, what it could mean for you, and how to treat it so that a better night’s sleep is possible for you.
Why Do You Snore?
As a person breathes, the air passing through their throat vibrates the soft tissues there, creating those irritating sounds acquainted with snoring. Whether in an airplane or taking a quick nap while waiting for an appointment, snoring can be embarrassing. While snoring could be simply due to your sleep position, drinking alcohol before bed, or weight gain, loud and frequent snoring can be a telltale sign of a more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. Whatever way your snoring affects you, it is important not to ignore it.
So How Do You Treat It?
Some benign factors of snoring may be treated with simple remedies. Here are nine that are commonly used to treat snoring:
1. Lose weight
Often times, snoring is simply caused by obesity. When you are overweight, there are excess tissues in your throat that can increase the possibility of snoring. This is incredibly common with aging men, as fat around the neck increases with age. Start maintaining a healthier diet by reducing the calories you intake as well as consume foods that offer more nutrients. According to a recent study, developing an exercise routine to help decrease the percentage of fat in your body has an affect on the quality and quantity of sleep you get. If you struggle with your weight, discuss options with your doctor or a nutritionist to get the help you need.
2. Change your sleeping position and pillow
Sleeping on your back can cause airflow to be blocked due to the tongue moving to the back of the throat. By switching the sleeping position to your side, air will flow more easily and may reduce your snoring. Another thing to consider are corrective pillows to help relieve snoring. These pillows are shaped to keep your neck in alignment during side-sleeping and ensure that your airways remain open. Corrective pillows are made of hypoallergenic materials and are washable and dryable.
3. Use nasal strips
Nasal strips are a popular way to improve snoring. Nasal strips are usually worn on the bridge of the nose and are designed to open the nasal passages from the outside. This helps air flow through the nose and can reduce snoring. One study found that nasal strips helped reduce snoring in 73% of people.
4. Treat nasal congestion or allergies
Allergies and congestion block air from flowing through the nose, so your body instead passes air through the mouth, increasing the possibility of snoring. By treating your nasal congestion or allergies with medicine, saline spray, sinus rinses, or nasal steroid sprays like Flonase, you can reduce congestion and improve your snoring. If your nasal congestion or allergies are intense, we suggest visiting an ENT or allergist about the best way to remedy your congestion. One of our highly-recommended allergists is Dr. Anmuth at Pediatric Lung and Allergy Center in Leesburg, Virginia.
4. Treat asthma
Asthma is a concern for those suffering from snoring or sleep apnea. There is also nocturnal asthma, in which asthmatic symptoms increase at night for different reasons. For example, your body’s anti-inflammatory defenses decrease when asleep, resulting in swollen lungs and constricted airways. Treating your asthma symptoms is vital in ensuring you get a good night’s rest without the extra snoring. Advanced Sleep Solutions of Virginia can refer you to a carefully curated list of asthma specialists to help you find the best option for treating your asthma and getting a better night’s sleep.
5. Seek correction for your nose’s structural problems or other sinus issues
Many people experience an injury that causes a deviated septum, which is when the bone and cartilage that divide the nasal cavity in half is misaligned. This causes blocked airflow, making it difficult to breathe. People who suffer from deviated septums often breathe through their mouth when sleeping and in turn, snore.
Another common issue is enlarged adenoids or tonsils. Adenoids are patches of tissue high up in your throat, just behind your nose. When they become inflamed or enlarged, they can cause many sinus problems. Some of these include chronic congestion, ear issues, sore throat, and increased snoring.
Tonsils are the collection of lymphoid tissues in the back of your throat that face the aerodigestive tract. Enlarged tonsils, or tonsilitis, can cause a sore throat, difficulty swallowing or breathing, and tenderness in the neck. Tonsilitis can also increase your risk of snoring.
Finally, nasal polyps, growths from inflamed mucous membranes in the nasal passages, can cause blockage in the airways and increase snoring. If you’re suffering from these, discuss with an ENT, like Dr. Mellis or Dr. Vasquez in Sterling, Virginia, about the option of correcting it to help treat your snoring.
6. Avoid alcohol or sedative consumption near your bedtime
Alcohol further relaxes the throat muscles, increasing your risk of snoring. Limit consuming alcohol to at least two hours before your bedtime. The same can be said about sedatives, so if you find that you snore while taking sedatives, discuss other options with your doctor.
7. Quit smoking
Smoking irritates the membranes in the nose and throat, restricting airflow and causing snoring. Smoking itself is an unhealthy habit, so talk to your doctor or physiologist about quitting safely so you can decrease your snoring and start a healthier lifestyle. Some great doctors in the Herndon, Reston, and Sterling areas of Virginia are Dr. Paula Kukulich and Dr. Judith Greco.
8. Elevate your head
Elevating your head by at least 4 inches while sleeping allows for better airflow, reducing snoring. Corrective pillows, as mentioned above, can also help with elevating the head. Some highly-rated pillows to look into are the Celliant Sleep Therapeutic Wellness Anti-Snore Memory Foam Pillow and the Comfylife Hypoallergenic Bamboo Memory Foam Contour Pillow.
9. Get enough sleep
This one might seem obvious, but overtiredness itself can cause snoring. Make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep for your body (usually between 7-9 hours) to ensure your body has the energy it needs to keep functioning properly.
Check out a sleep time chart here for the latest recommendations by age.
Try a smartphone app like the three we recommend:
- Bedrr sleep app: A sleep tuner with a monitor that is affixed to your forehead.
- Snorelab: Records your snoring and grades snoring intensity
- SleepTracker 24/7 correlates resting heart rate and advanced sleep cycle monitoring
A great way to reset your sleeping pattern is to take a weekend camping. Learn more about it here.
What If It’s More Serious?
As mentioned earlier, snoring could be a sign of a more serious condition, like obstructive sleep apnea. If you think you have sleep apnea, it’s important to get it addressed. Our team of certified sleep specialists can address your concerns and help you find the best way to improve your sleep at night. But what happens if it is more serious? A sleep evaluation will conclude if you have sleep apnea, and treatment starts from there.
Mainstream Snoring Treatment
1. Palatal Implants
Braided strands of polyester filament are injected into your mouth’s palate to stiffen it and reduce snoring. This treatment is often called the pillar procedure. This is a procedure that is more commonly used for those suffering from mild sleep apnea and is not recommended for patients with severe sleep apnea. While few complications have been discovered with this procedure, some patients still need to use a CPAP even after the treatment. It can also cause sore throats and difficulty swallowing, and in some cases, the implant may protrude from the palate and need correction.
2. UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty)
Aside from this being just a really big and confusing word, this is a surgery that consists of tissue rearrangement around the uvula, palate, and throat walls to increase airway size and decrease tissue collapse. There is also laser-assisted UPPP (LA-UPPP) which is considered more effective. Some long-term side effects, such as swallowing issues, voice changes, or a permanent feeling of something foreign in the throat are still being addressed to minimize risk.
3. Radiofrequency ablation (somnoplasty)
This is a newer treatment that uses low-intensity radio waves on the mouth’s palate to shrink the tissues and reduce snoring. It is also called radiofrequency volumetric tissue reduction (RFVTR). Some risks with this procedure include possible bleeding and infection, damage to the mouth’s inner lining resulting in ulcers or holes, difficulty swallowing, jaw pain, and throat dryness.
4. Hyoid Suspension
The hyoid bone is a U-shaped bone in the neck that is attached to both muscles of the tongue and muscles in the soft tissue of the neck. The hyoid bone has the ability to move freely due to it being the only bone in the body that isn’t attached to another. Because of this, the structures attached to it can collapse and cause airway blockage during sleep.
Hyoid suspension is a procedure that has many different techniques. The goal of the procedure is to reposition the hyoid bone to increase the tension of the surrounding soft tissue. This prevents blocked airways during sleep and stretches and tightens tissue so it is less likely to vibrate during snoring. In comparison to other ways of treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, the risks of this procedure (bleeding or swelling after surgery) are minor and temporary. This tends to be considered a safer way of treating these conditions.
5. Tongue Suspension
This is another procedure designed to prevent the soft tissue and tongue from falling into the back of the throat during sleep and blocking the airway. A suture loop is inserted into the base of the tongue and a suspension line is attached to it. A small titanium bone anchor placed under the chin is used to anchor the suspension line and keep the tongue suspended with tension.
Some complications found with this procedure include bleeding, suture breakage or migration, floor-of-mouth edema, infection, or nerve damage.
6. CPAPs (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)
A CPAP is a pressurized mask you wear over your nose during sleep. It delivers steady air pressure that helps to keep your airways open. While considering this option, keep in mind that the CPAP is loud and can interrupt sleep. Many people have had trouble tolerating the forced air, complain of dry and stuffy noses after use, or develop feelings of claustrophobia. The mask of a CPAP has also been found to cause skin irritation and pressure sores, and has even leaked and caused dry eyes. It has also been noted as difficult to clean, and despite advancements being made to clean CPAPs properly, the use of a dirty CPAP could contribute to even more threatening health conditions.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Surely the above treatments for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring were a bit disturbing, even scary. Not to worry; research has found a better, safer, and more effective treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea: oral appliance therapies. What exactly is it? Oral sleep appliances are worn in the mouth during sleep and their fit is comparable to retainers, night guards, and sports mouth guards. The purpose of these appliances is to support the jaw in a forward position, keeping the upper airway open. The FDA has cleared over 100 different oral appliances that help counteract the effects of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Somnomed, the leading manufacturer, offers a variety of high-quality, comfortable oral appliances that help treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Okay, so that was a lot of information. You may be wondering where to start. The answer is easy: contact Advanced Sleep Centers of Virginia. Using exclusively Somnomed appliances to ensure the best treatment possible, this organization of highly trained and certified sleep professionals makes the process of diagnosing and treating snoring and other sleep issues simple. Advanced Sleep Centers of Virginia offer at-home sleep tests, online scheduling, and a secure telemedicine portal where you can communicate with sleep professionals privately and quickly.
Get Better Sleep and Improve Your Life Today
Consulting with a certified sleep specialist to discuss treating your snoring and obstructive sleep apnea is the first step to sleeping better and improving your lifestyle. The task may seem impossible, but once you get the right help and start making the necessary changes, you’ll be able to live a happier life and sleep easier at night. Plus, your partner (or dog) will no longer leave the room to escape your incessant snoring!
Interested in oral appliance therapy? Advanced Sleep Solutions of Virginia will find the right oral sleep appliance for you and get you on the right track for improving your sleep and stopping snoring. You can schedule an appointment online or call us today at (703) 689-2480.