Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Don’t Let the Snoring Damage Your Marriage

Snoring can lead to poor sleep and daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. If your snoring keeps your partner awake, it can also create major relationship problems. Thankfully, sleeping in separate bedrooms isn’t the only remedy for snoring. There are many other effective solutions available.

Identify the causes

Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed. The factors that obstruct air flow, includes:

• Obstructed nasal airways: Some people snore only during allergy seasons or when they have a sinus infection. Deformities of the nose such as a deviated septum (a structural change in the wall that separates one nostril from the other) or nasal polyps can also cause obstruction.

• Poor muscle tone in the throat and tongue: Throat and tongue muscles can be too relaxed, which allows them to collapse and fall back into the airway. This can result from deep sleep, alcohol consumption, and use of some sleeping pills. Normal aging causes further relaxation of these muscles.

• Bulky throat tissue: Being overweight can cause bulky throat tissue. Also, children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore.

• Long soft palate and/or uvula: A long soft palate or a long uvula (the dangling tissue in back of the mouth) can narrow the opening from the nose to the throat. When these structures vibrate and bump against one another the airway becomes obstructed, causing snoring.

• Age: As you reach middle age and beyond, your throat becomes narrower, and the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
• The way you’re built: Men have narrower air passages than women and are more likely to snore. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary.
• Being overweight or out of shape: Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring.
• Alcohol, smoking, and medications: Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications can increase muscle relaxation leading to more snoring.
• Sleep posture. Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat to relax and block the airway.

Self-help cures to stop snoring

There are many things you can do on your own to help stop snoring. Here are some home remedies and lifestyle changes that play crucial role in resolving the problem.

Lifestyle changes:

  • Lose weight. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue in the back of the throat and decrease or even stop snoring.
  • Exercise can also help to stop snoring. Working out to tone your arms, legs, and abs, for example, also leads to toning the muscles in your throat, which in turn can lead to less snoring.
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, your chances of snoring are high. Smoking causes airways to be blocked by irritating the membranes in the nose and throat.
  • Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills, and sedatives, especially before bedtime, because they relax the muscles in the throat and interfere with breathing. Talk to your doctor about any prescription medications you’re taking, as some encourage a deeper level of sleep which can make snoring worse.
  • Establish regular sleep patterns. Create a bedtime ritual with your partner and stick to it. Hitting the sack in a routine way together can help you sleep better and often minimize snoring.

Bedtime remedies:

  • Clear nasal passages. Having a stuffy nose makes inhalation difficult and creates a vacuum in your throat, which in turn leads to snoring. You can do it naturally with a neti pot or try nasal decongestants or nasal strips to help you breathe more easily while sleeping.
  • Keep bedroom air moist with a humidifier. Dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat.
  • Reposition – Elevating your head four inches may ease breathing and encourage your tongue and jaw to move forward. There are specially designed pillows available to help prevent snoring by making sure your neck muscles are not crimped.
  • Avoid caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of going to bed, especially dairy products and soymilk.
  • Sleep on your side. Avoid sleeping on your back, as gravity makes it more likely for your tongue and soft tissues to drop and obstruct your airway.

When to see a doctor

Snoring can sometimes be a warning sign of a more serious problem. Call your doctor if you and your sleep partner have noticed any of the following red flags:

• You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.
• You stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep.
• You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or a meal.

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