Dec. 13, 2001 -- Are your family members and neighbors up in arms about your snoring ? Sleep expert Rosalind Cartwright helps you figure out the cause of your snoring and provides tips on how to achieve a peaceful night.
Do you sleep with your mouth open? Nasal breathing is less loud than oral, and healthier. If you are a "mouth breather" when you sleep, you should ask yourself why? Do you have nasal congestion due to sinus problems? Polyps? Allergies? Is the bedroom air dry? A simple nasal spray may help, plus a chin strap to keep the mouth closed.
Do you snore less when on your side than when sleeping on your back? Most snorers are at their worst when lying on their backs. If you snore less, or less loudly on your side, try wearing a T-shirt with a tennis ball attached to the middle of the back., which will train you to stay off your back during the night.
Do you snore worse after drinking alcohol in the evening? Alcohol will increase snoring tenfold by relaxing the muscles that hold the throat open more, allowing the soft palate tissue and uvula to flutter more as air passes. Try abstaining from alcohol within three to four hours of sleep time.
Are you overweight? The bigger the neck size, the louder the snorer. Weight loss takes time, but is better for your health in general.
Is your snoring interrupted by periods of silence and followed by snorts or gasps? If yes, that means you have already developed sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder characterized by pauses in breathing that last for at least 10 seconds, and which happen five or more times per hour of sleep. The disorder is most common in middle-aged men who have put on some weight, but can happen to anyone. If your answer is yes, you MUST go to a sleep center and be properly evaluated for what treatment is best for you.
To find a sleep center near you, check with the American Academy of Sleep Medicine at http://www.aasmnet.org/.
Is your snoring so severe that you're thinking about surgery? Surgery is only really appropriate if you have huge tonsils and a very narrow airway, and is not recommended lightly. Other, less invasive options, such as somnoplasty, may be more appropriate and can be done as short and almost painless out-patient office procedures.
CLICK HERE for more information on surgical options.
Rosalind Cartwright is a sleep medicine expert and chairwoman of the department of psychology at Chicago's Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.