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How to Stop Snoring: A Doctor's Top-7 Tips


by Bobak Ghaheri, M.D.

We often laugh at snoring, but it can have serious impacts on your family life and health. If you’re waking up with dark circles under your eyes but your spouse is waking up well rested, snoring could be a problem for you. Fortunately, simple remedies can help some people.

Here are my top-7 tips for how to stop snoring.

  1. Lose weight. It’s common for adults to complain they’ve started snoring as they’ve gotten older. This is sometimes simply because of weight gain. Excess weight puts pressure on the throat that can force the base of the tongue backwards into the airway, where it’s subject to quickly moving air.
  2. Don't take sedatives at night. Certain sleeping pills and alcohol can decrease muscle tone and make snoring worse.
  3. Use a sleep positioning aid. By far, snoring is most common when people lie on their back, allowing the base of the tongue to slide backwards. You can sew a tennis ball into the back of your shirt to keep yourself on your side. Or try a wedge pillow that tilts the head back.
  4. Open your nasal passages. A stopped-up nose causes mouth breathing, which can lead to snoring. If you have congestion—perhaps because of a deviated septum or allergies—strips worn on the nose to open the airway may help. Because these products, such as Breathe Right strips, are harmless and relatively inexpensive, I often have people try these before I operate on them. Simply dealing with allergies can help, too.
  5. Get an oral appliance. A dentist can fashion this to help protrude the jaw and move the base of the tongue forward, allowing air to move past.
  6. Talk to your doctor about surgery. If an obvious anatomical problem is creating turbulence, you can have a simple surgery, though it may only lessen, not eradicate, the problem. You’ll have to talk with your doctor to decide which surgery since snoring can come from numerous locations. In children, large tonsils and adenoids are the major cause. In adults, the tonsils can also be a source if something, such as a deviated septum or allergies, is forcing you to mouth breathe. A low palate or uvula is a potential culprit as well.newsletter-graphic
  7. Most importantly, speak with your doctor about whether you have sleep apnea—a dangerous disorder in which you stop breathing periodically throughout the night. Heavy snoring is often a sign. Sleep apnea treatment with a machine that helps you keep breathing often also makes snoring disappear. Here's more information about sleep apnea.

BOBAK GHAHERI, M.D., is a board-certified ear, nose and throat surgeon at The Oregon Clinic in Portland.

Last updated and/or approved: April 2010. Original article appeared in May/June 2009 former print magazine. Bio current as of May 2009. This article is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.


Comments (1)add comment
Just being tired can worsen my snoring too
written by Danh Nguyen, MD , May 24, 2011

Normally I don't snore that much, but when I'm tired, boy will I hear it from my wife in the morning. I guess for me, the tip would be "Don't work too hard?"

Thanks sharing the tips. Turning on my side worked the best for me.

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