March 27, 2011 -- Snoring can be a serious health issue, disrupting normal sleeping patterns and disturbing partners as they try to sleep through the noise. Snoring affects more than 90 million adults and their partners. One British survey found that if your spouse snores, by your 50th wedding anniversary you'll have lost about 4 years' worth of sleep.
Besides just feeling tired all the time, people who don't get enough sleep can develop memory and mood problems; they're even at a greater risk of car accidents. Moderate snorers include people who snore every night, but perhaps only when on their backs or only for part of the night. Heavy snorers should see a doctor to make sure they don't have a serious sleeping disorder called sleep apnea.
For light or moderate snorers, here are home remedies that can help you—and your partner—sleep better.
When To Call A Doctor
In general, the louder and more frequent you snore, the more likely it is related to a medical problem such as sleep apnea. If home remedies haven't helped your snoring, or if you have snoring and chronic stuffiness, or snoring and heartburn, see a doctor.
If you snore mostly when on your back, put a tennis ball in a shirt pocket cut from an old T-shirt and sew it to the mid-back of your tight pajama top. The discomfort forces you to roll over and sleep on your side, without waking you up. Expert: Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, a board-certified internist and medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers
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Try propping your head up with an extra pillow to stop snoring. This opens your airway more, which prevents the back of the throat from collapsing and causing snoring. You can also raise the head of your bed by putting a couple of bricks under the legs of your bed, for example. Expert: Philip Westbrook, MD, founder and former director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and former editor of the journal Sleep Medicine Reviews
If a cold or congestion is behind your snoring, one way to unstuff your nose is to run a humidifier in your bedroom at night. This encourages your sinuses to drain, shrinking nasal mucous and improving airflow to reduce snoring. Smearing some Vicks VapoRub on your chest at night will help open your nasal passages too, easing your snoring. Expert: James Herdegen, MD, medical director of the Sleep Science Center at the University of Illinois
If you snore but don't have underlying sinus problems or coughing, you can relieve some of the snoring by wearing an OTC nasal strip, such as Breathe Right. These adhesive strips pull open the nasal passages so they're less narrow, giving you better airflow. Expert: James Herdegen, MD, medical director of the Sleep Science Center at the University of Illinois
A mandibular advancement device, also known as an oral appliance, is shaped like a mouth guard for you to wear at night. It helps keep the lower jaw pushed out, widening the airway and reducing snoring. Studies show it is 90% effective at reducing noise from snoring. It costs $500 to $1,000 and lasts for at least 3 years. Your dentist can fit you for one. For a less expensive option, you can buy an OTC device called a snore guard. You boil it and then fit it into your mouth to create an impression of your teeth and dental structure. The goal is the same: to bring your lower jaw forward a bit to make the back of your throat less crowded. Expert: James Herdegen, MD, medical director of the Sleep Science Center at the University of Illinois
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