Are you the person that no one wants to share a hotel room with or sleep next to because you sound like a chainsaw at night? Lots of people snore and sometimes it's only because you fell asleep in a really strange position or we finally crashed after getting little sleep for an extended period of time. But if you're the chronic snorer of the group or family, it might be time to get it addressed.
Snoring isn't just a problem for the people around you though. Snoring generally means you will not be getting a good, restful sleep which can become a domino effect for other complications. People with habitual snoring can be chronically tired and have difficulty concentrating. People with chronic snoring are also at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure and other conditions such as heart conditions and even strokes.
There are a couple of tips I have to reduce snoring. Check them out below:
1. So the first thing I want you to do as you are reading this blog is to take note of where your tongue is in your mouth. Is it resting behind your bottom teeth? Is your jaw and tongue relaxed maybe with your lips parted? Is it resting behind your top teeth?
Did you know there is actually a "correct" placement for your tongue to optimize the efficiency of your body? In an ideal world, your tongue will be pressed to the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth. This positioning of the tongue creates more efficient breathing by opening your airways.
If your tongue rests at the bottom of your mouth or somewhere else in your mouth, it means your tongue is being shoved back into your airway. That is a huge cause of SNORING. Improper placement of your tongue causes breathing dysfunction.
So one of the first "exercises" I have my snoring patients do is practice proper tongue position. Place your tongue at the roof of your mouth so that it's fanned out behind your teeth. Create a gentle suction like you are trying to vacuum seal it shut. Then naturally close your mouth and feel that gentle suction helping to keep your tongue pressed up on the top of your mouth and keep your mouth closed.
Practicing and retraining this muscle to remain in its proper position can help alleviate snoring. Do this often, especially before bedtime. Promoting this positional change can significantly reduce snoring.
2. Another major issue with snoring is pillow positioning. Similar to the tongue placement, the way your head is resting on your pillow can change your airway and thus can cause snoring.
For my back sleepers: you don't want your head propped up. Your pillow should be supportive at your neck but shouldn't be so thick that it causes your chin to tuck. I recommend down feather pillows as they contour to your neck but don't raise your head all that much.
For my side sleepers: position your pillow in such a way that your spine stays aligned. You don't want your neck kinked up or dropping down toward your bed. Your pillow should perfectly support your head and neck so that your spine is a straight line parallel with your mattress.
For stomach sleepers: my best advice to you is...don't sleep on your stomach. I'm a huge proponent of back sleeping but even side sleeping is better than your stomach. Unless you're sleeping on a massage table with your head in a face cradle, you're most likely going to have a snoring problem.
3. Sticking with the theme, cutting off your airway in any way can increase your likelihood of snoring. What many don't realize is that having a forward head and forward shoulder posture (and so many of us do now that so many people have desk jobs) can really cut off your airway and create a perfect snoring environment. This thoracic mobilization exercise encourages better posture specifically at the head and neck.
Nobody wants to be outcasted from camping trips or just be consistently getting a bad night's sleep from snoring. So give these tips and tricks a try to, hopefully, avoid those cumberson CPAP machines.
If you give it a try, let us know how it works out for you!
Dr. Justin C. Lin