Dr. Abhinav Singh
Dr. Singh is the Medical Director of the Indiana Sleep Center. His research and clinical practice focuses on the entire myriad of sleep disorders.
If you or your partner snore regularly or occasionally, you might wonder how to stop snoring. You’re not alone. In adults between 30 and 60 years old, 44% of men and 28% of women snore regularly. Over age 60, around half of all people snore regularly.
Snoring is the sound that results from air passing through your airway when it is partially blocked. Tissues at the top of your airway touch each other and vibrate, making you snore. Virtually all adults snore occasionally.
For most people, snoring is little more than an embarrassment or annoyance. For others, however, snoring can cause problems or indicate an underlying health issue. Different people snore for different reasons. Trying a variety of tips can help you learn how to stop snoring while sleeping and determine if you need to talk to a doctor about your snoring.
Many sleepers can reduce or eliminate their snoring by making one or more simple adjustments at night.
Your likelihood of snoring depends on what position you sleep in. People are more likely to snore when sleeping on their backs, also called the supine position. In contrast, people snore less when they sleep on their sides, also called a lateral position. The tendency to snore could be more due to head position than body position, with people snoring less when their heads are turned to the side.
If you know that you’re snoring at night and you generally sleep on your back, try to fall asleep on your side instead. If you have trouble retraining your sleep position habits, consider strategically using pillows to provide comfort and keep your body and head in a side position.
Internal and external nasal dilators are geared toward improving airflow as you sleep. As a result, they may reduce snoring. These small devices are available over-the-counter online and in most drug stores for relatively low prices.
Both types of nasal dilators are small, flexible strips that use tension to open the nasal passages. A nasal strip, or external dilator, sticks to the outside of the nose with adhesive. As it tries to retain its shape, it pulls outward, lifting skin on the nose and opening the nasal passages. An internal nasal dilator operates similarly, but from the inside. Instead of pulling on the outside of the nose, it pushes outward. Studies show that both types of dilators reduce snoring, but internal dilators tend to be more effective.
Mandibular advancement devices — often called MADs — are a common type of anti-snoring mouthpiece. These mouthguards are usually molded to fit your teeth, then adjusted so that they move your lower jaw forward. This minor jaw realignment helps reduce snoring.
A tongue retaining device or tongue stabilizing device — often called a TRD or TSD — is another type of anti-snoring mouthpiece. Like a MAD, this mouthpiece also fits between the teeth. However, instead of adjusting the lower jaw, it holds the tongue in place. A small part of the mouthpiece uses suction to keep the tongue from falling back into the throat. In one study, a tongue retaining device reduced snoring intensity by 68%.
Besides reducing snoring, anti-snoring dental devices can even positively impact mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Sleepers shouldn’t self-diagnose or self-treat sleep apnea, however. Only use a dental device for sleep apnea with the approval of your doctor.
Some people try sleeping on their side and wearing a nasal dilator or anti-snoring mouthpiece, yet still find themselves snoring. If that’s true for you, it might be time to consider making more significant lifestyle changes.
Experts recommend weight loss as one of the first and most important treatments to try for snoring. Of course, this recommendation only applies to people who are overweight or obese. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides an easy-to-use chart to help you determine whether or not you have a healthy weight based on your height, weight, and waistline.
If, like nearly 74% of Americans, you are overweight or obese, consider reducing your body weight. People with obesity are more likely to snore and to develop obstructive sleep apnea. Research has found that weight loss in people with a high body mass index reduces both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.
Be sure to approach weight loss in a healthy way. Crash diets rarely work long-term and can be dangerous. Instead, follow the Centers for Disease Control suggestions for eating a healthy diet and incorporating physical activity into your life in a positive way.
Mouth exercises involve repeatedly moving your tongue and parts of your mouth in ways that strengthen muscles in the tongue, soft palate, and throat. In one study, three months of mouth exercises led to a 59% reduction in snoring.
Smoking cigarettes is associated with increased snoring. The flip side is also true: quitting smoking can help with your snoring problem. Additionally, children of parents who smoke tend to snore more. If you smoke and notice snoring in your children, quitting smoking could potentially help them stop snoring as well.
Of course, snoring is one of the more minor problems caused by smoking cigarettes. Cigarettes cause nearly one-third of coronary heart disease deaths and 90% of lung cancer cases in the U.S., in addition to taking an average of 10 years off the lifespan of each smoker.
Not only does alcohol increase snoring, drinking before bed can even induce obstructive sleep apnea in people who don’t have the disorder. Alcohol’s effect on snoring and sleep is dose-related, so if you tend to drink multiple drinks, start by cutting back. If that doesn’t reduce your snoring, try to stop drinking a few hours before bed or consider cutting out alcohol altogether.
Snoring sometimes results from physical issues that medical professionals can resolve through surgery. Although surgery should be viewed as a last resort, there are a few surgeries that are known to reduce snoring. Seeing a doctor is the only way to determine if you could benefit from surgery.
In laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, a surgeon uses a laser to remove tissue from the uvula in the throat and the soft palate. As a result, the throat allows more airflow, and the soft palate stiffens as tissue grows where it was lasered.
This surgery has been performed as a treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea for nearly 30 years. Some doctors still consider the surgery to be beneficial, although it has become controversial in recent years due to a high occurrence of negative side effects. As a result, many surgeons no longer offer laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty.
Like laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, palatal implants are a minimally invasive surgery option that stiffens the soft palate. Palatal implants are much less controversial, however. Studies show that the implants significantly improve snoring in certain people. In addition to snoring, doctors sometimes suggest palatal implants as an obstructive sleep apnea treatment.
Somnoplasty shares characteristics with both laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty and palatal implants in the sense that it can be used to remove tissue from the uvula and stiffen the soft palate. Instead of lasers and implants, somnoplasty uses radio waves to alter tissues in the mouth and throat. Research shows that somnoplasty successfully reduces snoring in certain people, but not as effectively as palatal implants do.
Sometimes you can’t resolve snoring by addressing it directly because it’s due to an underlying medical issue. People who snore in addition to other symptoms, such as gasping or choking while asleep, daytime tiredness, morning headaches, and feeling unrefreshed upon waking, might have obstructive sleep apnea.
If you believe your snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, see a doctor. Receiving a diagnosis and treatment for this disorder can resolve or significantly reduce your snoring while relieving other symptoms.