When you sleep, you might be off in a dream world, oblivious to what’s going on. Back in reality, you may be making grumbling, snorting, or rattling noises, often referred to as snoring.
Snoring is extremely common, and almost everyone snores at some point in their lives. It happens when something is obstructing your airway, restricting airflow through your nose and mouth.
Not all snoring sounds the same. Snoring sounds can include whistling, snorting, grumbling, rumbling, and quiet vibrations.
Snoring can often be associated with a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (a condition that causes you to temporarily stop breathing while you sleep). Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can be associated with significant long term risks such as heart attack, stroke, and dementia. OSA is an under-recognized disorder that has many effective treatments available.
If you snore or you’ve been told you snore, you might be seeking solutions to improve your sleep and that of those around you. Clinical evaluation is worthwhile, as there are several options for treatment.
Below is an overview of approaches that can be taken to help address snoring.
Lifestyle Changes to Stop Snoring
Before venturing into medical treatments for snoring, simple lifestyle changes can often help. Factors such as your weight, what position you sleep in, and your overall health can play a role.
Lifestyle changes to treat snoring include:
- Losing weight
- Changing your sleep position to avoid sleeping on your back
- Avoiding sleep deprivation
- Treating nasal congestion with cold or allergy medication
- Avoiding alcohol close to bedtime
If these approaches to stop snoring aren’t effective, you may need to consider additional treatment options.
Nonsurgical Medical Treatments for Snoring
Snoring is a result of an obstructed airway. To open your airways, your healthcare provider might recommend nonsurgical approaches to address your snoring.
If your snoring is a result of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine may be an option. A CPAP machine has a mask that fits over your mouth or nose as you sleep. This mask sends pressurized air into your airway, keeping it open and eliminating snoring related to sleep apnea.
In some cases, mild or moderate OSA can be treated with an oral mandibular advancement device (oral appliance). These are mouth pieces that are custom fitted to reposition your lower jaw to treat sleep apnea and snoring.
In situations where there is prominent snoring but no evidence of sleep disordered breathing, conservative options such as nasal strips or mouth taping can be considered. Mouth taping has been put forth frequently on social media, but there is not yet strong clinical evidence to support its efficacy in treatment.
If you have questions about how to stop snoring, make an appointment for a sleep consultation at the South Bend Clinic Comprehensive Sleep Center to find out what’s causing your snoring and how it can be treated.
Surgery to Stop Snoring
If your snoring is severe, your healthcare provider may recommend surgery to open your airway by reducing or removing excess tissue. Surgery can also be used to address a structural problem, like a deviated septum.
Surgical approaches to snoring include:
- Septoplasty, which addresses a deviated septum (when the bone and cartilage that separates your nasal passage is off-center) to improve airflow
- Inferior turbinate reduction, which consists of trimming tissue on the inside of the nose to reduce obstruction of the airway.
- Adenoidectomy or tonsillectomy, which gets rid of extra tissue in the back of your upper throat/nose (adenoidectomy) or throat (tonsillectomy)
- Ablation therapy, which uses radiofrequency energy to reduce tissue in your tongue and soft palate
Finding the Right Snoring Treatment For You
The most effective approach to stop snoring depends on the reason you’re snoring in the first place. To determine what’s causing your snoring, talk to your healthcare provider.
In many cases, a sleep study (either at home or in the sleep lab) may be recommended. This test allows your physician to rule out obstructive sleep apnea as a cause and initiate appropriate treatment. We perform both home sleep apnea tests and attended in lab polysomnograms at the South Bend Clinic Comprehensive Sleep Center.
Snoring is common — and sometimes completely normal. But if it’s disrupting your sleep or someone who sleeps next to you, it might be time for a change. Together with your healthcare provider, you can help determine why you’re snoring and how best to address it.