If you’re one of the 41 per cent of the population making night-time noise – or a long-suffering bedfellow – here’s the advice you need to sleep soundly
From finding the cause to preventative measures – here are nuggets of helpful advice from the experts just in time for National Stop Snoring Week (20-25 April).
Find the cause
Snoring is a sound made when the tissues of the upper airways vibrate as you sleep. “There are three main medical reasons behind snoring,” says Dr Yves Kamami, an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street. “A partially blocked nasal passage, an elongated and thick soft palate or a partially blocked airway behind the tongue.” While awake, we have the muscle tone required to keep the airways open, but this is lost as we relax into sleep. To find out which of the three is causing your snores, ask your GP for advice, or try the Interactive Snore Tests.
Take a targeted approach
Once you know whether you are a nose/throat, palate or ‘combination’ snorer, you can target your symptoms more accurately. Throat snorers could try Nytol Anti-Snoring Throat Spray, which acts on the throat tissues to help keep them lubricated and reduce vibrations. Nose snorers might benefit from Breathe Right Nasal Strips – plasters worn on the nose to open the nasal passages for better breathing. “If over-the-counter remedies don’t help, your GP may refer you to an ENT specialist,” says Dr Kamami.
“If you’re prone to snoring, sleeping on your back is a bad idea,” says Dr Kamami. “If you’re fed up of being jabbed in the ribs throughout the night by your partner, try to sleep on your side. Sewing a small ball into the back of your pyjamas is a nifty trick to prevent yourself from rolling over.”
Bedding specialist Slumberdown has created an Anti-Snore Pillow to get you and your partner a better night’s kip. The hollow-fibre pillow features an S-shaped foam core that supports your head and neck in a better position and minimises snoring.
Assess your diet
“You’re much more likely to snore if you’ve had a tipple before you go to bed,” says Dr Kamami. “Alcohol relaxes the muscles of your tongue, which can lead to the narrowing of the airways, ultimately resulting in snoring. Meanwhile, spicy food can cause acid reflux and a number of studies indicate this increases the likelihood of snoring.”
Address lifestyle factors
Being overweight and a smoker are known risk factors for snoring. A concerted effort to deal with both will almost certainly mean a more peaceful sleep.
Don’t discount allergies
Hay fever, asthma and dust mite or feather allergies can make snoring worse. Make sure you change your sheets regularly, use hypoallergenic pillows and duvets, and take antihistamines, if needed.
Invest in a humidifier
“A humidifier can add warmth and moisture to the air so it can be a good addition to the bedroom to reduce dryness in the nose and throat and improve the airflow – which can sometimes help reduce snoring,” says Dr Kamami. It may be particularly useful if snoring is due to nasal congestion or allergies, as dry air makes it worse.