There are several different causes for snoring and in some cases it can be caused by a blocked nose or other sinus difficulty. However in the majority of cases snoring will come from the throat and this can result in the kind of loud trumpet-like snoring that can wake up your entire household. At the same time though snoring is also a problem for you as it can be a sign of apnea meaning that you may stop breathing in the night causing you to wake up and even risking suffocation in extreme cases, and it can also mean that you are not getting the same quality of sleep so you are likely to wake up and still feel tired or not have the same alertness during the day. So if your partner’s nagging isn’t motivation enough there are still reasons to make sure you solve the problem.
Here we will look at how to address this snoring and ensure a better night’s sleep for both you and your family.
Understanding Throat Snoring
First it is important to understand what causes snoring from the throat. Simply when you snore from the throat it is because you breathe through your trachea when you sleep and this can get closed over during the night causing the air to have to squeeze through thus creating the loud sound.
Of course this does not happen to everyone and normally the muscles in your neck with prevent it from closing, but there are some things that can make you more likely to snore from your throat. For instance if you are overweight then this will mean that your neck is actually heavier meaning that you may not be able to hold it open using your muscles alone while you sleep. Alternatively it might be to do with the position in which you sleep, or it might be a result of your muscles not being strong enough to keep your windpipe supported. In some other cases your snoring can be caused by other things blocking your airways – for instance it might be that your tongue is lolling back in your mouth and blocking your throat, or it could be that your jaw structure is such that it makes it difficult for your to breath.
Fortunately however these cases of throat snoring are generally caused by ‘mechanical’ problems meaning that they are relatively easy to fix or counteract. Here we will look at how to prevent these problems from causing you to turn into a trumpet every time you drift off.
As most causes of throat snoring are caused by your throat being blocked, this means there are several things you can try yourself to stop it being a problem. Here are some suggestions:
Change your sleeping position: If you trachea is closing over while you sleep then most likely this is because you sleep on your back meaning that gravity pushes directly down on the most vulnerable your neck. If you change your sleeping position then you can prevent this from being a problem.
One way to easily change your sleeping position for the better is to prop yourself up with cushions. By placing more cushions behind your head you will force yourself to sleep more upright and this will mean that your neck isn’t squeezed quite so heavily by gravity.
Alternatively you can help alleviate the problem by lying on your side which works because the side of your throat is less susceptible. This is easier said than done however, as we tend to roll around and move in our sleep. If you want to encourage yourself to stay on your side during the night then, try wearing a backwards baseball cap, or a pyjama top with a tennis ball down your back. Either of these strategies will make it uncomfortable to sleep on your back so that you naturally stay on your side.
Strengthen your neck muscles: Strengthening your neck will help it to support itself and thus stay open while you sleep and to hold its own weight. Of course the neck is a relatively difficult area to train as you can not hold weights in your teeth – but there are ways.
One way to train your neck is to try as hard as possible to look to the left or the right while stopping your head from turning by using your hand. You can achieve the same by trying to look up or down and stopping yourself, or by trying to crane your head forward or back. Another technique is to lie on a bench as used for a bench press so that your head hangs over the end, then hold a weight plate over the back of your head so that you are taking the majority of the weight on your arms, but some of your neck, and then to dip your head down and lift it up again. Generally exercising by performing things like squats and bench pressing etc will also help you to avoid snoring from the throat as it will strengthen your neck as a by-product and help you to lose weight.
Lose weight: Losing weight will obviously mean that you have less weight to crush your windpipe and the wider your neck is the more likely you are to snore. Use a combination of exercise and a reduced caloric intake to reduce your weight quickly.
Use a vapo rub: Vapo rub is designed to prevent blocked noses. While your snore is coming through your throat, this could be avoided if you were to breathe through your nose while you slept. Using a vapo rub you make this more likely and thus keep your breathing clear.
Get a snoring guard: A snoring guard works to alter the shape of your jaw and prevent you from blocking your own windpipe. This will only work in certain scenarios, but as they are cheap to purchase they are worth trying.
Avoid alcohol or sleeping tablets: Both alcohol and sleeping tablets are depressants and relaxants meaning that your muscles relax as a result. If you use either before bed then this can make your throat more likely to collapse on itself and may be causing your throat snoring.
Avoid smoking: Of course giving up smoking can also help you to improve your snoring as smoking causes mucus to gather on your throat and lungs and thus makes you snore and also wake up coughing in the night. This then is just one more reason to give up cigarettes.
If you try these home remedies and your snoring persists then you might need more help to overcome the problem. If you visit a doctor or a sleep clinic then they will likely suggest one of several procedures based on the severity of the problem and the cause.
C-PAP: C-PAP stands for ‘continuous positive airway pressure’ which means that you will have a jet of air blown down your windpipe with the intention of that way keeping it open. This will prevent your trachea from closing over and will mean that the air is able to get in and out without being blocked. However the devices are quite noisy and some people find they can make breathing difficult. They will likely only be used in cases where you have apnea and risk stopping breathing during the night.
Surgery: Surgery can be used to alter the shape of your jaw or your nasal passage which in some cases can help make breathing easier. Common procedures are to bring the jaw forward or to repair a deviated septum.
Tracheotomy: A tracheotomy means that you have a hole made in your throat for breathing through which means that the air does not have to travel as far. This is of course a serious procedure and will only be used in cases where the individual is putting themselves at risk such as in cases of mixed sleep apnea.