When we breathe air first enters the nose and moves through the nasal passages. It then travels down the back of the throat and into the lungs.
We have a set of muscles at the back of our throat which opens to allow the air to enter the lungs.When we sleep these muscles relax. Sometimes when the muscles relax it causes the airway found at the back of the throat to shrink. When this happens air is unable to move freely through the narrow airway and will hit against the throat and nasal tissues. The tissues will vibrate and these vibrations will produce the sounds of snoring.
Some reasons for the airway to shrink are:
- Drinking alcohol before going to bed
- Taking muscle relaxants or sedatives
- Sleeping position
- Nasal and Sinus problems
Obese people are prone to snoring because they have extra fat around their throat which causes the airway to shrink.
As we age the muscles at the back of our throat get weaker and cannot function as well as it once did thereby causing the airway to become smaller.
The muscles at the back of the throat will be more relaxed as we sleep if we drink alcohol, take muscle relaxants or sedatives before going to bed.
Your sleeping position can cause you to snore. Avoid sleeping on your back since it will cause you to block your airways. Instead sleep on your side.
Make sure your head is elevated 4 inches when sleeping.
Nasal and sinus problems
Nasal and sinus problems causes blocked airways making breathing difficult which leads to snoring.
Listed below are some home remedies to treat snoring
Fill a bowl with hot water. Mix in a teaspoon of sea salt. Bend over the bowl and inhale the steam. Cover your head and the bowl with a towel to prevent steam from escaping. The steam helps to clear the nasal passages. Do this treatment three times a week.
Try to have your dinner at least 3 hours before going to bed. Do not eat dairy products such as milk, soy milk and yoghurt before bedtime. These dairy products tend to produce mucus which can block the nasal passages.
Alcohol, Muscle Relaxants and Sedatives
Do not take alcohol, muscle relaxants or sedatives before bedtime since it can relax the muscles causing blocked airways.
Some people turn to throat exercises to help them with their snoring problem.
Say the vowels ‘a,e,i,o,u’ out loud for 1 to 2 minutes twice a day. Do this exercise when you wake up in the morning and before going to bed at night.
Stick out your tongue as far as you can. Hold for 3 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times twice a day (morning and evening). This exercise will strengthen the muscles behind the throat.
Buy a didgeridoo which is a wind instrument. Recent research done on the didgeridoo confirms that by playing the instrument snorers can strengthen muscles behind the throat hence reducing snoring.
Take a teaspoon of honey before going to bed.
© Suranee Perera 2012