Nearly everyone snores from time to time. But not all snoring is the same.
Consistent snoring affects the quality of your sleep. Besides disturbing your bedmates and housemates, it can lead to daytime tiredness or a bad temper. It also can indicate bigger health problems that may require treatment.
Find out common reasons why you snore and try some tricks for getting a better night’s sleep.
Common Causes of Snoring
Snoring happens when there is a blockage in the nose or mouth or when the muscles in your throat relax more than normal while you sleep.
Common reasons that can lead to snoring are:
- Sinus problems
- Excess body weight
- Alcohol intake
- Muscle-relaxing medications
- Sleeping on your back
Tricks to Reduce Snoring
Avoid alcohol and other muscle relaxers right before bed. While alcohol may calm you down, it also relaxes your throat and jaw muscles, making snoring more likely. If you plan to enjoy an adult beverage, have your last drink at least four hours before bed.
Excess body fat—especially around the neck—puts pressure on your throat’s airway and can lead to snoring. If you’re overweight, focus on shedding a few extra pounds. Your snoring may stop naturally.
If your body weight isn’t a factor, try over-the-counter nasal strips that help widen the nostrils.
Before Bed Prevention Tips
A healthy bedtime ritual can help you sleep better. These simple changes also can help reduce snoring.
- Elevate your head with pillows to improve airflow through your nasal passages and to help you breathe easier.
- Try changing your sleeping posture. Lie on your side with your knees curled in. Stick a pillow between your thighs. This position reduces tension on your spine and can open up your nasal passages.
- Still no luck? Some people sew a tennis ball to the back of their shirt to keep from rolling on their back at night.
When to Seek Help
Snoring can signal a more serious problem. Watch for these red flags:
- You snore loudly and heavily and you’re tired during the day
- You stop breathing or start gasping or choking during sleep
- You fall asleep at the wrong times, like during a conversation, a meal, or while driving
If you, your family, or roommates notice that you are displaying one of these red flags, schedule an appointment with your medical health professional. He or she can check for any sleep-related breathing problems.
Check out the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Sleep Education page for more information on snoring.
Medical treatment facilities may offer specialized sleep clinics (or sleep centers), but they’re not covered under TRICARE so you’ll need a referral from your medical health professional to visit one.