Whether you have sleep apnea or not, your snoring may get better if you make a few simple changes in your sleeping and waking habits. These changes might be all that are needed to improve or even cure your snoring or sleep apnea, or they may work best when used along with other types of treatment.
Sleep on Your Side
Sleeping on your side can prevent throat structures from sliding back and blocking your air passage. It may also relieve pressure on the air passage caused by extra weight in the stomach, chest, or neck. For these reasons, sleeping on your side may improve or even cure snoring or sleep apnea.
If you’re used to sleeping on your back, it can be a hard habit to break. To help, sew a pocket into or safety-pin a sock on the back of a t-shirt or pajama top. Place two or three tennis balls or a bag of unshelled nuts into this pocket or sock, then wear the shirt to bed. The balls or nuts can help keep you from rolling onto your back. If the t-shirt method doesn’t work for you, try wearing a backpack filled with Styrofoam to bed or put a large, wedge-shaped pillow behind you.
Avoid Alcohol and Certain Medications
Alcohol and medications such as sedatives, sleeping pills, and anti-histamines make breathing slower and shallower. They also make your muscles relax even more than usual, so the structures in your throat are more likely to block your air passage. These changes can cause or worsen snoring or sleep apnea. If you snore, it’s best to avoid alcohol. Talk to your doctor if you take medications that induce sleep.
Being overweight can make snoring worse. In fact, sleep apnea occurs most often in people who are overweight. Extra weight makes breathing more difficult by putting pressure on neck tissues and on your lungs. Losing some weight can help, but losing enough weight to come close to your ideal weight may even cure snoring or sleep apnea. If you’re overweight, talk to your doctor about a weight-loss program.
Exercise can help you lose weight, tone your muscles, and make your lungs work better. All these things can help improve your snoring or sleep apnea. Ask your doctor about beginning an exercise program. You don’t need to run marathons or buy special equipment. Try walking, which is a good exercise for almost everyone, or another activity that you enjoy. Also try getting bits of exercise throughout the day. For instance, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Unblock Your Nose
If you have allergies, polyps, or other problems that block your nose, treating these problems may help improve snoring or sleep apnea. Your doctor can recommend medications for allergies or sinus problems. Surgery may be required to straighten a deviated septum or remove polyps. And if you smoke, try to quit. Smoking irritates your nasal passages and makes a stuffy nose worse.