Did you know that as many as 45% of men and 30% of women snore regularly? If you’ve wanted to know about why and what is available in terms of treatment for snoring, this article is for you.
Snoring is not just embarrassing (and let’s face it, nobody likes to be told they snore!); it disrupts and compromises the quality of your sleep and also that of your partner and even other people in your household. The loudest snorers can even be heard by neighbours! It also carries significant consequences to your overall health and wellbeing.
What is Snoring?
Snoring is the sound the body produces when the soft tissues of the upper airways (mouth, nose, throat) vibrate during breathing when you are asleep. It occurs because the muscles of the oral cavity and neck relax too much and the airways become narrowed as a result. This means that the air you breathe must flow through a smaller (or even blocked) area – and snoring is the outcome.
No matter how mild or severe your snoring may be, at its core it is a physical sign that the brain and the body are not getting enough air. It ultimately wakes the snorer, disrupting sleep just enough to reposition or otherwise “reset” to try to improve airflow.
Why is snoring a problem? Aside from being disruptive, snoring has many flow-on effects:
- It places strain on relationships, forcing many couples to sleep separately.
- It causes daytime fatigue and can contribute to poor concentration, poor performance, memory issues, headache, sore throat, bad breath, irritability, and the mid-afternoon “slump”.
- Over time, snoring can be extremely detrimental to health and wellbeing, contributing to mood disorders, weight gain and obesity, diminished immune function, and an increased incidence of workplace and road accidents.
Chronic snoring can play a role in the development of serious medical issues, from heart disease to depression, obesity, and even cancer. Furthermore, snoring itself may be an indicator and direct symptom of obstructive sleep apnoea, which is a serious health condition requiring professional medical assessment and management.
Different Types of Snoring
There are different root causes of snoring and different types of snoring.
Some contributory factors to snoring include:
- Sleeping position – especially if you sleep on your back.
- Sleep depth – very deep sleepers tend to snore more.
- Being overweight – especially if you have a lot of fat in your neck area.
- Facial anatomy – bone structure and soft tissue anatomy impacting the size of the airways.
- Enlarged tonsils/adenoids
- A large tongue
- Poor muscle tone in the mouth/throat
- Abnormal nasal or oral anatomy due to genetics, injury, or disease
- Consuming alcohol
- Cigarette smoking (as this inflames the airways)
- Sedative use
- Sleep apnoea
Finding the right treatment for snoring requires understanding why you snore in the first place.
There are 4 main types of snoring:
- Nasal-based snoring occurs due to narrow or blocked nostrils, inflammation, allergies, dust, cold and dry weather, some medication use, and anatomical issues such as a previously broken nose or a deviated septum. It can cause morning headaches, bad breath, and a dry mouth.
- Mouth-based snoring results when you breathe through your mouth rather than your nose while you are sleeping. Most mouth snorers sleep on their back and have an open mouth while they snore. It often happens due to a blocked nose, large tonsils, or a weak soft palate.
- Tongue-based snoring happens if the tongue relaxes too much and drops back into the throat. It’s often experienced by overweight people, those who sleep on their back, use sedatives, or consume too much alcohol, especially at night.
- Throat-based snoring is the most dangerous type in terms of health risk. It is also the loudest type of snoring. Throat-based snoring is caused by obstructive sleep apnoea and is the outcome of the muscles and soft tissues of the throat relaxing and collapsing. The airways can become completely blocked.
Treatment for Snoring Options
There are several ways to approach snoring, and what is effective for one person will not necessarily be effective for another. Treatments for snoring will depend to a large extent on the type and severity of the snoring and the root cause behind it. For some people, the solution will be simpler; others will need a more involved or medical approach.
1. Lifestyle Changes
The first approach to address snoring is to make some lifestyle changes. These may be enough to help mild snorers stop snoring and sleep better for better overall health and wellbeing. Basic lifestyle changes to treat snoring include:
- Lose weight to maintain a healthy BMI
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a wholesome, healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats and proteins
- Drink plenty of plain water
- Stop smoking
- Moderate (or avoid) alcohol consumption
- Do not eat a large meal within 3-4 hours of bedtime
- Avoid caffeine in the evening
- Avoid sedative use
- Do not use muscle relaxants if you’re prone to snoring
- Do not use illicit drugs
- Implement good sleep hygiene habits
What's the verdict?
Lifestyle changes can be a very powerful factor in the treatment of snoring. While they certainly can help to reduce the severity of snoring, for many snorers, these alone are not sufficient to stop snoring, as they do not offer relief from physiological contributing factors such as anatomical features like facial anatomy or enlarged tonsils, etc.
Some people will require surgery to properly treat their snoring. There are several surgical treatment options specific to snoring. For example:
- Nasal surgery to release nasal obstruction, e.g. correction of a deviated septum (septoplasty), turbinate reduction
- Tonsillectomy or an adenoidectomy to open airways that are impinged upon by enlarged tonsils or adenoids (this is a common cause of snoring).
- Laser uvuloplasty to shorten or remove the uvula.
- Palatal implants to stiffen the soft palate to prevent its vibration.
- Radiofrequency/laser treatment to stiffen parts of the soft palate by stimulating the inherent collagen fibres to restore elasticity and strength and prevent it from obstructing the throat.
- Injection snoreplasty to inject a specific chemical (the same as what’s used to treat varicose veins) into the soft palate to create scar tissue that stiffens the palate and minimises vibration.
There are also several other, more invasive surgical options also available for treating snoring.
What's the verdict?
For some people, surgery is the best way to treat snoring. There are, however, significant risks associated with surgery, including pain, bleeding, infection, and the risks associated with a general anaesthetic. Surgery is also expensive and requires time off work and away from normal activities. The results are not always complete or permanent. For most snorers, surgery is (and should be) a last resort.
3. Medical devices
Numerous medical devices are marketed to alleviate snoring. Some of these are more effective than others; all are available over the counter and, depending on the type of snoring you experience, definitely worth a try. These include (but are not limited to):
- Nasal dilator strips – worn across the nose or in the nostrils aim to open the nasal passages to facilitate breathing through the nose to prevent mouth snoring.
- Nasal resistance valves – aim to prevent breathing out through the nose and create pressure in the nasopharynx.
- Oral Strips – these may be worn inside the mouth or over the lips. Internal oral strips claim to tone and lubricate the palate. External strips promote nasal breathing.
- Oral appliances – the mandibular advancement device is worn in the mouth to gently push the lower jaw forward and thus help keep the airway open. The tongue retaining device, also worn in the mouth, grips the tongue to prevent it from relaxing back into the throat.
- CPAP – a continuous positive airway pressure machine and mask are used to push air into the mouth during sleep and keep the airways open. It is used by people who have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
What's the verdict?
There is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of nasal devices and oral strips, though anecdotally some people do report an improvement in their snoring. These devices are predominantly single-use and can become costly over time. The tongue retaining device can be very uncomfortable to wear.
Any device that prevents breathing via the mouth and forces nasal breathing is not considered to be safe for a lot of users.
The mandibular advancement device (SnoreMD) is medically proven to be an effective treatment for snoring and helps a majority of snorers to minimise and even stop snoring altogether. It can also be effective when used with CPAP for people with mild to moderate OSA. CPAP is the primary treatment approach medically prescribed for people with obstructive sleep apnoea.
4. Drug / Pharmacological Solutions
Various medicines can be used to alleviate snoring. Most of these work by treating the inflammation and swelling in the airways that can be caused by dust, allergies, dry air, cold air, viral illnesses, cigarette smoking, passive smoking, and hormonal and other environmental triggers. They include:
- Nasal Saline Lubricant Sprays (e.g. Fess)
- Nasal Steroid Sprays (prescription required)
- Mouth Sprays
- Hormone replacement therapy (in post-menopausal women) can be effective but snoring is not an indicator for prescribing this.
What's the verdict?
Treating allergies is an important part of addressing snoring and also for overall wellbeing. Over-the-counter nasal lubricant sprays are a good starting point if your snoring is nasal-based. Do not take any drug-based medication without seeking appropriate medical advice beforehand.
5. Positional Therapy
Changing the position in which you sleep is an important step to addressing snoring. Most snoring occurs when people sleep on their back. Positional therapy seeks to prevent one from sleeping on their back, especially flat on their back. Techniques include:
- Anti-snore pillows or wedges can be used to prop the sleeper onto their side and encourage side-sleeping.
- Raise the head of the bed by as little as ten centimetres can be enough to help prevent the tongue from falling into the throat for some snorers.
- Tennis ball. This simple approach requires that you attach a tennis ball to the back of a tee-shirt, which you then wear to bed. It prevents you from lying on your back, making it uncomfortable and alerting you if you roll onto your back during sleep.
- Electronic devices are a more costly option. These vibrate gently or sound an alarm if you roll onto your back.
What's the verdict?
As important as the sleeping position is when it comes to snoring, these solutions have limited success. Many people will move pillows and wedges aside in their sleep, and using a tennis ball or similar technique can be uncomfortable. When you roll onto your back, your sleep is disrupted – meaning the solution is almost as bad as the snoring itself.
6. Alternative Medicine / Natural Treatments
Improving the overall quality of your sleep is part of addressing snoring, however, there is no current alternative medicine or therapy that actively treats snoring itself. Taking magnesium, valerian, and melatonin (see your pharmacist for advice) can help to promote a more restful night’s sleep, as can drinking warm milk at bedtime and using lavender oil in a pre-bedtime bath or sprinkled onto your pillow. Other alternative therapies to promote sleep include acupuncture, massage, and drinking chamomile tea before sleeping. You can also choose to eat certain foods that have been scientifically proven to promote sleep – and avoid consuming caffeine, salt, sugar, and alcohol.
What's the verdict?
Alternative medicine and natural therapies do not stop snoring – but used alongside proven treatments for snoring, they can help you experience better quality sleep.
Finding the Right Treatment for Snoring
Which treatment for snoring is right for you?
- The cause of your snoring
- Convenience – ease of use
- Proven effectiveness
- Medically proven to work
- Compatibility with a good night’s sleep
The right treatment for snoring will be the one that works for you. You may need to try a few different approaches before you find the best one.
Seeking Medical Advice
Snoring is, for many people, a mild to moderate annoyance. For others, it is a serious condition and it can be a symptom and sign of obstructive sleep apnoea. This is a potentially grave medical condition and it must be diagnosed and managed professionally.
Signs you must seek medical advice for your snoring include:
- Your snoring disrupts your household
- Your snoring is affecting your relationships
- You wake gasping or choking
- You are chronically tired during the day
- You have trouble concentrating or staying awake during the day
- Your partner tells you you snore a lot or very loudly
- Your partner tells you you stop breathing during the night
If you suspect your snoring is a result of sleep apnoea, it is very important that you promptly seek medical advice for a full assessment and a professional medical management plan.
What is SnoreMD?
SnoreMD is an Australian made, registered Class 1 Medical Device scientifically tested to treat the symptoms associated with snoring. Compared with other anti-snoring solutions, it is low cost and extremely convenient to use. Unlike other treatments for snoring, SnoreMD is comfortable to use, and it will not negatively impact your sleep or that of your partner.
SnoreMD is a better choice for general snoring.
How does it work? It gently holds your lower jaw slightly forward while you sleep. This helps keep your airway open for clearer, easier breathing and stops snoring from happening.
SnoreMD is less invasive than most other anti-snoring treatments and it works! With one-of-a-kind, patented technology, it is made of the highest quality medical-grade materials and is micro-adjustable for a comfortable fit for men and women over the age of 18 years and throughout all life stages. It enables mouth breathing and is a safe anti-snoring solution.
SnoreMD can safely and effectively be used with CPAP for people who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnoea.
- Easy to clean
- Will not disrupt sleep
- Backed by warranty and money-back guarantee
Combining Treatments for Snoring
A lot of people will get the best results when they combine snoring treatments – for example, using SnoreMD every night as well as making positive lifestyle changes to address those habits that may be contributing to snoring. Moreover, implementing new habits like better sleep hygiene, choosing foods that help you sleep, and trying various non-medical sleep remedies can make a world of difference.
Effective Treatment for Snoring: Choose SnoreMD
It’s easy to improve your life with SnoreMD – using it is a simple way to breathe more easily, sleep better, function optimally, and feel fantastic. It is recommended by doctors, pharmacists, and sleep specialists. Discover the difference for yourself when you treat your snoring with this revolutionary device. Learn more here about how SnoreMD can work for you and why it is the most popular treatment for snoring.