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How To Stop Snoring

What do callers to our helpline want to know when they ring? HOW CAN I STOP SNORING?

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The information and advice on this page was first published in 2004 and may no longer be completely accurate. We recommend taking our new interactive snore tests to find out how you can stop snoring.


Of course, the most important thing to discover is what is causing the snoring. Without an idea in this direction, a solution to the problem will be illusive.

Collar Size Of 16 ½"

The first thing to consider is body fat. Obese people are very likely to snore. Excess body fat seems to be more of a problem for men than for women. Fat is deposited around the body differently in men to women. Men tend to get fat around their necks and waists, whereas women seem to put in on around their thighs. It is fat around the throat that gives the problem; it tends to squash the throat in leaving less room to breathe. A middle aged man whose collar size is 16 ½" or above is predisposed to snoring. It is worthwhile considering if snoring was a problem before any recent weight gain or if there has been a need to buy larger shirts recently! Weight reduction by moderating the diet and increased exercise is an extremely efficient method for the treatment of snoring in those who are overweight. Even if you are only marginally overweight we would recommend that an exercise and diet programme be initiated. Although obesity may not be the only cause of the snoring, it may well have an important influence which when removed will enable other forms of treatment to be effective.

Smokers are twice as likely to snore as non-smokers. It follows that those who are able to quit the habit will be in a better position regarding their snoring. It may be the only cause in which case what a rewarding experience it will be. Stopping snoring and smoking in one will be a relief to the snorers/smokers and their families. Acupuncture and hypnosis are both good therapies for kicking the habit. Quitline's 0800 002 200 is a telephone number that will come in handy if you really want to give up smoking. Good luck. It is worth mentioning that it is the smoke that irritates the nasal mucosa that causes the problem for snorers. Passive smoking may therefore be something to take into account particularly if you find yourself in a smoky environment like a pub before you go to bed.

Mouth Open?

Do you snore with your mouth open? We were designed to breathe in through our noses so that the air is filtered, warmed and humidified before entering the lungs. When we breathe through the nose the air passes over the curved part of the soft palate in a gentle flow into the throat without creating unnecessary turbulence. When we breathe through the mouth however, the air hits the back of the throat head on and can create enormous vibrations in this soft tissue. The pharynx, the medical term for the throat, which extends from the level of the roof of the mouth to the epiglottis (Adam's apple), is a very flexible and muscular tube. It needs this flexibility because it must satisfy two functions, breathing and swallowing. It is the latter function that needs the flexibility because we swallow by a process called peristalsis, a series of muscular contractions that force the food down the throat and into the oesophagus. When relaxed the pharynx is not very large. As we fall asleep our muscle tone decreases and most of the muscles in our bodies relax completely. The throat is no exception. You can see that in this state any turbulence in the inspired air will cause a vibration.

If breathing though the mouth during sleep is usual, and you have at least one clear nasal airway, a device to prevent oral breathing may be the answer. Snore Guard is such a product.

Tongue Base

Some snorers' noise emanates from the base of the tongue where the throat may be particularly restricted. This is especially likely in those whose lower jaw is not properly formed. People with 'weak chins' or retrognathia often snore. Typically, they will have an unusual bite, that is, their lower teeth are way behind their upper teeth when they close their mouths. In this situation, a device worn in the mouth that brings the lower jaw (the mandible) forward may be the solution. Try this simple test: make a snoring noise with the mouth closed. Then try to make the same noise whilst biting lightly on your tongue protruding from the mouth and the lips sealed around it. If you cannot snore with your tongue forward a Tomed SomnoGuard would besuitable. The result of using such a device will be a semi permanent or permanent advancement of the lower jaw, and a change in the way the teeth meet together. You may need to learn to chew your food in a different way. Nevertheless, we believe that these devices have a valuable role in the treatment of snoring in a large number of cases.

You can't use Snore Guard or Tomed SomnoGuard if you cannot breathe through your nose. If you have nasal congestion preventing clear breathing through both nostrils this can be the cause of the snoring problem. Are you an allergic person? Do you suffer from hay fever, for example? If yes, you may suffer an allergic reaction to house dust mites. These are found in their millions in every old pillow and when sleeping our noses simply suck up the allergen from the pillow. Try a brand new synthetically filled pillow. If your snoring abates for a few days then returns, you may have hit upon the cause, in which case 'Intervent' pillow case liners, etc. may be the answer. You can also try, with the advice of your pharmacist, antihistamine tablets. If these work then it may indicate an allergy. Do not continue with antihistamine use for long. You must find out what you are allergic to and avoid contact. Decongestant nasal sprays can be effective too. Try an Oxymetazoline hydrochloride spray like Boots own, but talk to the chemist first. Be sure to discontinue use after 5 days even if you have found them to successfully stop your snoring. Long term use of such powerful sprays can be counterproductive and dangerous. They can actually increase congestion by a rebound effect if used for too long. We have in stock a homeopathic nasal spray called Homeoronfnyl and a herbal spray that we are trialing. Y-Snore nose drops are a homeopathic formulation and Y-Snore spray contains the same active ingredient in a normal saline solution. All our nasal sprays and drops are safe for long term use. You will also find that steam inhalations are of great benefit. This simple traditional remedy is enormously effective, but it is rather inconvenient needing one session each night and each morning for 10 minutes or so, for at least a fortnight. The good news is that it costs nothing and works really well.

Nasal Dilators

Nasal dilators can be used to great effect if your nostrils tend to collapse. You can test this out by standing in front of a mirror and observing one of your nostrils whilst you breathe in deeply through it with the other one closed gently by pressing on the side with a finger. If the open nostril tends to collapse as you breathe in, try propping it open with the clean end of a match stick and see if breathing is easier. Try the test on both sides. If you find breathing is easier with your nostrils propped open, you should try one of the nasal dilators designed for the purpose. The new Nozovent are a vast improvement on the old design. They stay in place more firmly. Snorless is still popular as is the Snore no More spring. Breathe Right strips are especially comfortable and easy to use.

It Is Worth A Try

Sleeping position does contribute to some snoring in some individuals. It will not take long to put a few books under the top of the bed to elevate the bed head. If it works, terrific, if not... well it was worth a try. Some folks only snore when laying on their backs which they do most of the night because they are unable to sleep comfortably on their sides. In this case, an orthopaedic pillow such as the Pro-Pil-O may enable a comfortable night's sleep whilst on one's side. Laying on your back is the worst possible sleeping position because the tongue falls backwards into the throat and partially restricts the air flow, causing turbulence and snoring.

Alcohol is another factor which should not be overlooked. Sedatives too, like sleeping pills, depress the central nervous system and increase the state of relaxation of the muscles in the throat. They also depress respiratory drive. We don't snore when we are awake because the muscle tone in the upper airway has more tone than during sleep. Anything that reduces the muscle tone still further will have a detrimental effect. If you don't usually snore, you may snore after a few drinks. If you usually snore a little, you will snore a lot. If you always snore, you may stop breathing for periods during your sleep, a condition known as sleep apnoea. Most of us would be envious of those who snore only after a few drinks. They are lucky because they have a choice. Drink or Snore.

Age, The Unstoppable

Both men and women tend to snore more as they grow older, and there is nothing we can do about that! But, if you take snoring seriously now and solve the problem, you will probably prevent your snoring becoming sleep apnoea. It normally follows a long period, say five years, of regular heavy snoring.

In general women tend to start snoring during or after the menopause. Some women snore only when they are pregnant. It would tend to indicate that hormones play an important role in the etiology (cause of a disease) of snoring. Some women have reported that hormone replacement therapy resolved their snoring problem.

Sleep Study Before Surgery

For both sexes, gross anatomical defects can lead to snoring and it is worth having your nose and throat checked out by your doctor or an ENT specialist. Some may wish to operate straight away because there is always something that can be done to make breathing easier. We will echo the policy of the Directors of the sleep laboratories who unanimously advise that no surgery for snoring should proceed without a prior sleep study. It is important to know whether the problem is snoring or sleep apnoea because the treatments may be quiet different. The treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnoea is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) which may be rendered less effective after palatal surgery.

Keep In Touch

Our message is this. Try your hardest to work out what is causing the problem. Eliminate those factors that cannot apply and work hard on those which might be contributory. Through this quest you will gain useful knowledge that will be of major help to the consultant if you need to see one. With the help of a specialist clinician you will definitely be able to resolve the problem. Then you will probably be looking for a better way. Keep in touch with The British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association as we always keep our eyes open for new techniques.