7 simple ways to stop snoring (before it ruins your relationship)

Snoring can be maddening for a snorer and even more so for their bed partner – but it’s also linked to serious medical issues.

If you’ve lived with the nocturnal misery of someone who snores, you’ll know it feels like there is no escape.

Frustrating and disruptive, it can lead to fragmented sleep, relationship issues and even hearing problems (snoring can range in sound from 50 to 100 decibels, equivalent to a jackhammer!).

Sleep deprivation has been linked to stress, anxiety and a weaker immune system. A recent US study has even linked disrupted sleep to diabetes.

For the snorer, the repercussions can be even more serious. Snoring is often an indication of sleep apnoea, where a person’s breathing becomes shallow, or stops, while they sleep.

What causes snoring?

University of WA Centre for Sleep Science director Professor Peter Eastwood says snoring is caused by the vibration of tissues between the nose and the mouth.

“When you fall asleep, all the skeletal muscles relax, including those around your neck and throat, which can make the whole area susceptible to vibration,” he says.

“The problem is a lot of people do it. Around 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women will engage in mild snoring on some nights, while 15 per cent of humans snore most nights.”

What are the triggers for snoring?

A whole host of things can raise your risk of snoring, according to Prof Eastwood.

“Being overweight or obese means you will have more fat around your neck, which makes your throat narrower so that it vibrates more easily,” he says.

“Alcohol relaxes your throat muscles, which can mean more vibration and more sound.”

Sleeping on your back, allergies, some medications and being pregnant can also be triggers, he adds.


Serious health risks of snoring

About 10 per cent of snorers are thought to have obstructive sleep apnoea, where breathing can stop for up to a minute and occur more than 100 times an hour, starving the body of oxygen.

Research shows that OSA sufferers are six to seven more times likely to have a car accident and industrial accidents, as well as cardiovascular disease – high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

7 tips to put snoring to rest

Incredibly, 75 per cent of people don’t realise they have OSA, which can be treated with face and nasal masks, oral devices and even surgery if needed.

For the rest of us, the good news is there are plenty of more natural remedies to stop snoring.

  • Change your sleeping position: If you sleep on your back, it’s time to switch to your side.
  • Lose weight: If you’re overweight, your snoring is likely to disappear if you drop some kilos.
  • Exercise: Improved muscle tone helps your throat to maintain its shape while you snooze.
  • Avoid alcohol: Booze relaxes your throat muscles and often leads to snoring.
  • Choose your foods: Dairy products in particular can leave a layer of mucus behind that blocks your airways.
  • Try an anti-snoring pillow: Designed to help keep your airways open by aligning your jaw, neck and throat.
  • Deal with allergies: Get an air filter. Change your linen. Keep pets outside the room. A stuffy nose can lead to snoring.

If all else fails talk to your doctor or check in with the Sleep Health Foundation for more information.

Written by Liz McGrath.