Share a bed with a snorer? Here’s how to get some peace
Do you have a noisy pillow neighbour? You’re not alone – as many as 50 per cent of UK men are snorers and 25 per cent of women, who tend to be affected more after the menopause – so plenty of us are battling the dreaded nightly rattle. Fortunately you don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of earplugs – the fight-back starts here!
1. Encourage a tongue workout!
A Brazilian study has found that snorers who exercise their tongue cut the frequency of their snoring by 36 per cent and its total power by 59 per cent. Not too shabby. The researchers helped noisy sleepers to tone up their tongues with several moves – including pushing the tip of their tongue against the roof of their mouth and sliding the tongue backward; sucking the tongue upwards against the roof of their mouth and pressing the entire tongue against the roof of the mouth; and forcing the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom, front teeth. Three months later, snoring was seriously subdued. Yes!
2. Limit the pints
Alcohol makes us relax, but excessive muscle relaxation leads to excessive snoring. Sleep is made up of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. You drift in and out of the two in 90-minute cycles through the night, but drinking – even a little – disrupts that pattern, which promotes poorer breathing, and therefore a bed-shakingly noisy snore-fest. So you need to cut the booze for a snore-free snooze. Smokers are twice as likely to snore as non-smokers too, and even second-hand smoke can irritate the membrane that lines your nostrils, so even passive smoking is a no-no.
3. Clear nasal passages
Nasal congestion can prevent clear breathing, and encourage snoring. Allergies can trigger nasal congestion, and studies have found that they are linked to sleep disorders, including snoring. So if you get hay fever you may also have a problem with dust mites. Try woollen bedding – dust mites can’t survive in wool, use antihistamine if you have a known allergy, and use a decongestant nasal spray for a few days when allergies flare up. Homeopathic nasal sprays are safe for long term use is they’re helping, so spritz away. Just check the packaging to be certain.
4. Spoon the night away!
Snorers tend to love lying on their backs, but this position causes your tongue to sag and obstruct your airways during sleep – cue snoring. We’re not suggesting you sew a golf ball into the back of your partner’s PJs, but if you can find a way to make a different sleeping position comfortable – go for it. Try lifting their head a bit higher with an extra pillow, or see if they can get comfy on their side by using an orthopaedic pillow.
5. Help them lose weight
Extra pounds can narrow your airways, which contributes to snoring. It’s particularly problematic for people who suffer with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which is when the walls of your throat relax and narrow, causing you to stop breathing for as much as 90 seconds. You then give a huge snort to get you back to breathing. A recent study found that losing weight is perhaps the single most effective way to solve it. People with mild obstructive sleep apnoea who lost more than a stone and kept it off had lower symptoms of OSA. The greater the weight loss, the fewer the nightly snorts.
6. And if all else fails… buy them a digeridoo
Seriously, because a study published in the British Medical Journal found that regular didgeridoo-playing reduced snoring and daytime sleepiness. Crucially, partners of the didgeridoo players also reported much less sleep disturbance. The researchers think that playing the musical instrument trains the upper airways, which helps reduce the symptoms of OSA and snoring. The only concern? Will their new musical hobby be less annoying than their night-time snoring? You decide.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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