How to stop snoring
Ana Noia: Senior Clinical Physiologist in Neurophysiology and Sleep at Cromwell Hospital
Snoring is a common problem, and affects many people in middle age. It doesn’t normally cause too many issues; you might have a disturbed night either by your own snoring or your partner’s, but it shouldn’t really affect your day to day life.
By the time we reach the age of 60, around half of us will snore regularly. If the snoring is quite severe, it can cause a regular lack of sleep leading to extreme tiredness and fatigue. This can make it dangerous to drive, or work depending on your job. And not getting enough sleep can even leave you feeling anxious and depressed, and start putting a strain on your relationships with your family and friends.
It’s far from a laughing matter. So, what can we do about it?
- Check how you’re sleeping
The position you sleep in can affect how well you sleep and whether you snore or not. Avoid sleeping on your back as you’re more likely to snore. You can also try adding more thick, good quality pillows to raise the head of your bed.
- Losing weight
It’s more common to snore if you’re overweight. Having excessive weight can narrow your airways making you more likely to snore. Losing a little bit of weight can have a big impact on how well you sleep and reduce your snoring.
- Cut down on alcohol
Drinking alcohol relaxes the soft tissues in your mouth and throat, such as your tongue, which may lead to obstruction of the airways and make you more likely to snore. Cutting down on how much you drink will help you to stop snoring as much. Medicines that help you sleep may also have a similar effect, so cut down or avoid these too.
- Give up smoking
If you’re a smoker, you’re also more likely to snore. The smoke from cigarettes can aggravate the space behind your nose and throat, which produces mucus and restricts your airflow. This can contribute to snoring and increase the risk of cancer.
- Get your allergies under control
Allergies such as hay fever and being sensitive to dust can give you a stuffy nose, which can contribute to snoring and disrupt your sleep. Try to avoid contact with potential triggers and get the right treatment to help prevent snoring.
It’s important to remember that snoring is a medical problem when it’s causing symptoms, so if none of these tips work make sure you seek further guidance.
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Does it always feel your mind is wide-awake, right after you get into bed? Or do you find yourself staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night wondering how to get back to sleep? You’re not alone - one in three of us in the UK have trouble sleeping at night. If this is all too familiar, setting a relaxation ritual before bed may help you doze off more quickly.
So commit to a better night’s sleep by trying out some of these techniques.
Prepare your room
Your sleeping environment should be dark and quiet as well as a comfortable temperature. A dim light may interrupt and shorten your sleep. If you have a clock by your bed, you’re also more likely to check the time if you wake up during the night, which can disrupt the rest of your sleep.
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It’s all too tempting to scroll through social media or watch some TV in bed! The light from these devices can suppress your sleep hormone melatonin, which disrupts your sleep. And being distracted by these devices leaves us no room to reflect on our day either. Turning off your electronic devices can give you more of a night time routine, so try to switch these off an hour before bed.
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We fall asleep better when there’s nothing preoccupying our minds. So if a racing mind is keeping you up at night, there are lots of relaxing activities to try. Mindfulness and meditation can be great ways to let go of your stresses and focus on your body. Yoga can also calm a busy mind and help you get rid of unwanted tension. The breathing exercises may encourage you to relax, so you’re more likely to drift off when you go to bed too.
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Everyone’s idea of relaxation is different. So try to include activities before bed that will unwind your mind and relax your body. This could involve relaxing in a warm bath or reading part of a book before getting your head down.
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Maybe a specific worry won't let you sleep. Maybe a lot of worries are keeping you awake. Write them down and promise yourself, “I’ll think about these problems in the morning.”
Keep it regular
Our bodies crave consistency. Sticking to a bedtime routine that works for you may help you relax and drift off at bedtime.
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Dr Eleanor Atkins, Clinical Fellow
If you’re a parent, it’s likely that you’ll have experienced bedtime battles a few times. It can be a challenge to get your children to bed and stay there, but with a little routine, you can make bedtime easier. It’s never too early to develop good sleep habits for your family either. Here we share our top techniques for setting a lights out time for your kids.
Create a routine
Set a simple, regular bedtime routine for your child that’s the same every night. Your routine could include having a bath, brushing their teeth or reading them a bedtime story. A calming and consistent routine can help your child recognise that it’s time for bed.
Unplug any devices
The light from laptops, tablets or phones can interfere with your child’s sleep. Avoid letting them use these devices in the 30 to 60 minutes before bed, as this can prevent them dozing off.
There’s some fun and relaxing activities you can do together before bed. Try reading a book or talk to them about their day when they’re tucked up in bed. Activities like these could help them wind down and relax before eventually falling asleep.
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The right sleeping environment can help your child fall asleep quicker, so it’s important to check the amount of light, noise and temperature of their surroundings. Keep their room dark, as this can help minimise sleep disturbances. If your child is afraid of the dark, put a night light on in the hallway and turn it off once they’re asleep. Try to keep noise down too. Make sure their bedroom is also at room temperature or a little cooler to avoid them getting too hot and not being able to sleep.
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Struggling with sleep deprivation over time can lead to more serious health problems. Start by making sure you’re sleeping in the perfect environment with as little distractions as possible.