Our nutrition and wellness expert Renée Leonard-Stainton gives you 9 simple, inexpensive and (most importantly) natural ways of curing this common problem.
Snoring. It can be kitten-purr soft, freight train loud and in some cases, even endearing. It can take you back to the warmth of childhood early morning snuggles with parents or memories of giggling at grandparents nodding off on the couch with a vigorous snort. Unfortunately, as an adult, it can also take its toll on your health, whether you’re the snorer or subjected to a snorers not-so-sweet lullaby every night.
Snoring is known to cause sleep deprivation to snorers and those around them, which leads to daytime drowsiness, irritability, lack of focus and decreased libido. So what exactly is snoring and how can we treat it naturally? Firstly, the majority of snoring issues are caused by a restricted airflow at the back of the throat. This happens when we’re asleep because the jaw muscles at the back of the throat go slack, so the lower jaw and tongue fall back, which constricts the airway. As air moves through the limited space it causes the soft tissues of the throat to vibrate, causing the familiar snoring sound.
When we get to the bottom of why we snore, then we can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep. There are various natural methods to help alleviate snoring, depending on the exact reasons for your snoring.
Lessen Your Alcohol And Sedative Intake
Alcohol and sedatives are relaxants that can increase the chances of the throat completely relaxing during sleep, meaning that the throat’s passageways are narrowed.
Lose Weight Sensibly
Excess weight can contribute to snoring. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease snoring. Exercise inadvertently leads to toning muscles you don’t see in the throat, which leads to less snoring. Untoned muscles in your throat and jaws can allow your tongue to fall back more than it should while you sleep. Excess weight also causes layers of fat to accumulate all over the body, including your neck. The fat accumulation around your neck puts extra pressure on the area and can close the throat more, making it more difficult to breathe. If you lose weight and strengthen the muscles around your neck and jaw, chances are good that you’ll decrease your snoring.
Essential Oils To Open Airways
If the cause of snoring is pinpointed to congestion, aromatherapy can work as a natural cure. Inhaling the scent of lavender, menthol, peppermint or eucalyptus can make a difference in snoring symptoms. Make a 50/50 mixture of the essential oil of choice + water and spritz it around the head of the bed every night before sleep.
Change The Position You Sleep In
If you find yourself snoring every time you’re on your back, try changing positions. It’s more common that people snore when they’re on their back because it’s easier for the tongue to slide back in the throat. It might take a while to get used to a new position, but it could solve your snoring problem. You can effectively keep yourself from rolling on your back by sewing a tennis ball into the back of your T-shirt (or whatever you sleep in). It sounds extreme, but you’ll soon find how uncomfortable it is to roll onto a ball, and your body will naturally change life-ingrained habits! You can also try elevating your head with an extra pillow to avoid the tongue slipping back. This elevation will have your tongue staying in a more natural position. It may take a while to get used to an extra pillow but it will be worth it when you get a better night’s rest with no snoring.
For some people, consuming dairy products can increase the mucus build-up in the throat. If you tend to get a build-up of mucus when you eat dairy, try to avoid it in the evening. The excess mucus in your throat can cause you to snore more easily. Horseradish, garlic and onions can help with nasal congestion, and should be included in the diet (bye-bye snoring, hello garlic breath!).
Regular smoking can cause you to snore because it aggravates the throat tissues which allows them to vibrate more.
Use A Nasal Irrigation Method
Having a stuffy nose makes inhalation difficult and creates a vacuum in your throat, which in turn leads to snoring. A nasal irrigation method involves flushing out your nasal passages. You do this by using a nasal syringe and warm salt water. By flushing out your nasal passages with the salty, warm water, you get rid of dust and debris that block the sinuses. This is a great method to use if you have a bad head cold or if you suffer from sinus problems. When you have no clogs in your nasal passages you have an easier time breathing at night. All natural anti-snoring sprays are also available. These can come in over-the-counter products available at pharmacies and health stores.
Be aware of pet hair, dust, pollen, food allergies, and make changes to eliminate your exposure to these, especially in the bedroom.
Start Doing Throat Exercises
Done 30 minutes a day, throat exercises can be a cost-effective snore-reducer for people. Studies have shown that by curling the tongue in specific ways, muscles in the upper respiratory tract are strengthened which can help to reduce snoring. Consider slowly introducing the following exercises:
- Place the tip of your tongue behind your top front teeth. Slide your tongue backwards for 3 minutes a day.
- With your mouth open, move your jaw to the right and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the left side also.
- With your mouth open, contract the muscle at the back of your throat repeatedly for 30 seconds. Tip: Look in the mirror to see if the uvula (‘the hanging ball’) moves up and down.
- Singing can increase muscle control in the throat and soft palate, reducing snoring caused by lax muscles.
- Playing the didgeridoo (or brass instruments) can strengthen the soft palate and throat, reducing snoring.
- Activities such as yoga and meditation can help you eradicate your snoring problems if done regularly, especially before sleeping. Such activities help you relax and improve your breathing techniques.
Snoring is a very common problem affecting many people throughout the world. There is a lot you can do to stop snoring. Just be prepared to summon some patience, do a little detective work, and troubleshoot with different remedies. It’s unlikely your snoring will go away over night, but keep at it. Sweet dreams!
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Is a qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist, and Western Medical Herbalist. She has worked with a growing list of clients around the world, from her home country in New Zealand across Australasia, to the States and the Middle East. With extensive experience, Renée regularly contributes to a variety of print magazines and online publications.