Snoring is caused by the narrowing of the upper airways. During sleep the tissues of the mouth and throat relax. As the tissues relax, air passes over them creating vibrations at the back of the throat; or snoring1.
Signs and symptoms of snoring include interrupted sleep, low energy, dry mouth, headaches, sinus problems, bad breathe in the morning and an angry partner!
- Sleep on your side & invest in a good pillow: When we lie on our back, gravity pulls our upper airways backwards. In some individuals this can narrow the airway enough to cause tissue vibration and snoring. In most cases snoring is improved by sleeping on the side.
- Quit smoking: Smoking reduces your body’s ability to utilize oxygen and also clogs up your airways. Research has shown that quitting smoking can reduce the incidence in snoring.
- Lose weight: Obesity contributes to many health conditions and snoring is no exception. By loosing a few kilos you will not only feel better in your-self, but experience more energy and a better nights sleep. This is especially important if you gain weight around the abdominal region and/or neck.
- Eat dinner at least 2 hours away from bedtime: This allows the digestion process to take place whilst you are awake. Meaning more effective digestion and a more restful sleep for you!
- Ensure your bedroom is well ventilated: To reduce potential allergens and for improved air flow during sleep.
- Eliminate allergens: These may be food related or an allergen in your home. Allergens lead to inflammation and blocked airways which in turn may contribute to snoring. Common food allergens that may contribute include Dairy, Wheat, Preservatives/Additives and Alcohol.
- Ensure adequate hydration: 1.5-2 liters/day for a adult of 70kg
- Boost immunity and lymphatic flow: High quality immune function and lymphatic flow mean less inflammation, infection and allergies. If you suffer sinusitis or allergies this may be the cause of your snoring. Your Naturopath can easily assess your immunity and determine if this is the cause of your snoring. Lightly massaging the lymph glands around your sinus can be an effective way of breaking up congestion and draining the sinus.
- Increase exercise: Breathing exercises to improve your oxygen uptake and regular cardiovascular exercise benefit snorers. They do this by reducing stress, improving sleep quality and improving muscle tone.
- Re-evaluate your medication: Pharmaceuticals such as sedatives, narcotic and antidepressants can all affect your sleep patterns. They can also lead to enhanced relaxation of throat muscles, thus increasing the tendency for airway obstruction. Do not stop any medication without first consulting your health practitioner.
Not everyones the same! Please see your Naturopath to evaluate any ongoing problems that may be contributing to your poor sleep quality and snoring.
Some facts about snoring:
- The most common causes of snoring are: sinus congestion, infection, polyps, obesity, cigarette smoking, cold and hypothyroidism.
- Snoring affects 44% of men and 30% of women.
- The incidence of snoring increases as we age.
- Chronic snoring can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, fatigue and depression.
What to expect when you visit a Naturopath for the treatment of snoring:
- Questions: about your diet, lifestyle, sleep, gut function, medications etc.
- Physical examination and assessment: to look for blocked sinus, mucous, infection, polyps etc.
- Allergy testing: To determine if there is any dietary component to your snoring and poor sleep patterns.
1 Dr. Reza Samvat, Breakthroughs in the Treatment of Snoring and Sleep Apnoea, Metagenics Seminar