Will Sleeping on Your Side Reduce Snoring?
by Joseph Mercola: 14
Natural Items for Your Alternative First Aid Kit
often told to sleep on their sides rather than on their backs. This
is because if you are lying on your side, the base of your tongue
will not collapse into the back of your throat, obstructing breathing.
some snorers, changing sleep position may not make a difference.
There are two types of snorers those who snore when sleeping
on their backs, and those who snore in every position.
the New York Times:
plays a major role. In one large study, published in 1997, patients
who snored or had breathing abnormalities only while sleeping on
their backs were typically thinner, while their nonpositional counterparts
usually were heavier ... But that study also found that patients
who were overweight saw reductions in the severity of their apnea
when they lost weight."
when your throat muscles relax during sleep, your tongue falls backward
toward your throat and the walls of your throat vibrate, leading
to the familiar sounds of a snore. It's a common notion, then, that
most people only snore when they sleep on their back, as this is
what allows your tongue to collapse into the back of your throat
and obstruct breathing.
an old folk remedy for snoring that recommends sewing a tennis ball
on the back of your pajamas to help keep you off your back while
In fact, sleeping
on your back can lead to snoring in some people the New
York Times reported one study found that 54
percent of snorers were "positional snorers," which means they
only snored while sleeping on their backs. So switching to your
side while sleeping is a simple trick to try if snoring is interfering
with your, or your partner's, sleep but it likely won't work
Even if you
snore while sleeping on your back, it is not what causes
the snoring to begin with, or else everyone would snore while sleeping
in this position, which is clearly not the case. Instead, there
is typically another underlying factor involved.
results from reduced airways, stemming from either your throat or
nasal passageway, and it's the vibrations as the air struggles to
get through your soft palate, uvula, tongue, tonsils and/or muscles
in the back of your throat that causes the sound of the snore.
Some of the
most common underlying factors that lead to snoring, according to
Sleep Foundation, include:
- Aging, which
leads to increased relaxation of the throat muscles
(particular having a lot of fatty tissue around the neck)
abnormalities of the nose and throat (enlarged tonsils or adenoids,
nasal polyps, or deviated nasal septum)
abnormalities (such as inflammation of the nose or throat due
alcohol before bed, as alcohol is a potent muscle relaxant, or
taking muscle relaxants in the evening
is also a strong indicator of obstructive
sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is interrupted during
apnea, your throat muscles do not keep your airway open enough for
you to breathe freely, leading to loud snoring and then periods
of silence when your breathing actually stops. This is often followed
by a loud gasp or snort when your body realizes it's not getting
enough airflow, which wakes you up, often repeatedly, throughout
night's sleep is essential for optimal health, but snoring often
interferes with sound sleep. Snorers and their bed partners
often experience restless sleep leading to sleepiness and
difficulty concentrating during the day. If your snoring is due
to sleep apnea, you're also at an increased risk of high blood pressure,
heart disease and mood and memory problems.
that interferes with your sleep should be regarded as serious, as
too little sleep impacts your levels of thyroid and stress hormones,
which in turn can affect your memory and immune system, your heart
and metabolism, and much more. Over time, lack of sleep can lead
How to Resolve
physicians often resort to drugs (including antidepressants)
and even surgery to treat snoring and sleep apnea, but these come
with potentially serious risks to your health. There are natural
options available that will help to address the underlying causes
Before I delve
into those, if your snoring is caused by sleep apnea you will probably
be offered nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which
is the most common treatment for sleep apnea.
involves wearing a mask that forces air through your nasal passages
over your nose while you sleep. The air pressure is constant and
adjusted so that it is just enough to prevent your throat from collapsing
during sleep. Nasal CPAP prevents airway closure while in use, however
apnea episodes return when CPAP is stopped or if used improperly,
so it's not a permanent fix and is clearly not my recommendation
If you conclude
you need CPAP or are currently using it, that is fine, it is not
intrinsically dangerous but it clearly is not treating the
cause of your problem so I would strongly encourage you to progress
along your health journey and identify an authentic solution, not
just a temporary fix.
diet, based on your nutritional
type, and maintaining a regular
cardio exercise program are far more effective at resolving
sleep apnea permanently.
non-invasive techniques that can help you stop snoring include:
sleeping on your side Giving side-sleeping a go
is worth a try, as for some it's an incredibly easy snoring fix,
provided you are comfortable in this position and can still get
a good night's sleep.
the reason why sleeping on your side instead of your back is
recommended is because snoring is often due to lax muscles in
your throat and tongue. When you sleep on your back your throat
and tongue muscles ease backward in your throat, causing a vibration
as you struggle to breathe.
Appliance. There are many dentists who specialize in
this and can construct a device that helps to change the opening
of your airway so your tongue has enough room and does not collapse
and obstruct your airway when you sleep.
the head of your bed This simple tip can also
help diminish the collapse of your airways. Simply raise the head
of your bed about four inches by placing blocks or wedges under
your weight Carrying
extra weight around your neck can cause your throat
to narrow when you lay down, hence the higher risk of snoring
if you're overweight. Normalizing
your body weight, even by 10 pounds or so, can make a big
throat and tongue exercises A stronger throat
and tongue are less likely to slip backward.
an example of one such exercise: Begin by putting your upper
and lower molars together, lightly. Next, open your mouth, focusing
on pressing your molars as wide apart as you can, without over
stretching. Repeat this ten to twenty times. After about 5 to
10 times you should feel your jaw muscles strengthening, and
the back of your mouth opening up.
a steam bowl Try putting your head over a bowl
of hot water and covering it with a towel so you can inhale the
steam. Be sure you are careful to avoid getting burned and use
pure water that is free of chlorine and other toxins.
just before going to bed, this can work wonders to clear out
your airways and reduce any swelling in your nasal passages
that might be a contributing factor. You should also keep your
sleeping environment as clean and dust free as possible if allergies
are an issue.
nasal strips If your problem stems from obstruction
in your nasal passageway, using nasal air strips can help increase
and other muscle relaxing or sleep aid drugs, will relax your
tongue and throat muscles even more, making your snoring worse.
milk Yes, drinking pasteurized
milk, especially at night, can also make snoring worse as
it leaves a layer of mucus in your mouth and throat, so stick
to plain water.
big meals late in the evening Avoid eating a big
meal right before bedtime. If your stomach is full it can push
up against your diaphragm, further limiting your ability to breathe
resolved your snoring, you should find that you and your partner
sleep much more soundly. If not, try out these 33
sleep aid secrets to further enhance your slumber.
2011 Dr. Joseph Mercola
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