Is your snoring raising the roof and keeping your spouse awake? Standard advice on taming snoring includes losing weight and stopping smoking, which no doubt helps control snoring and also improves your overall health. But simple steps that don't call for drastic lifestyle changes and are as simple as changing the type of socks you wear, can immediately lower the nighttime volume.
• Wear compression socks.
The type of socks that passengers wear on long-haul flights to prevent blood clots can prevent snoring. Researchers at Canada's University of Toronto found that compression socks (also called flight socks) reduce the amount of fluid that accumulates in the lower legs during the day of patients with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). At night, once a person is lying down, the fluid moves from the legs into the area of the neck and causes sleep apnea, which is characterized by loud snoring. The Toronto study found that by the end of two weeks, patients with CVI who used compression stockings cut the number of apnea episodes in half while patients who didn't use the socks showed no change.
• Buy new pillows.
Pillows harbor dust mites — millions of them collect over a few months — which can trigger allergies and cause you to snore. If your pillows are more than six months old, buy new ones. Cover them with dust mite covers, which are cases with zippers that provide a barrier to keep your pillows free of dust mites. To keep dust mites in check, wash sheets and pillowcases weekly in hot water (cold water doesn't do the trick). Also, use a very firm pillow.
• Take a shower.
If your nose is usually stuffy at night, try a hot shower to open your nasal passages, or rinse out your sinuses using a saline spray. You can also use nasal drops to lift and open nasal passages.
• Change sleeping positions.
If you sleep on your back, your tongue and soft palate are compressed in the back of your throat, which narrows your airway and causes snoring. Try sleeping on your side instead. If you keep turning on your back once you've fallen asleep, prop your head up on pillows, or tape a tennis or golf ball to the back of your T-shirt to keep you on your side. Or you can buy a body pillow that will help you remain on your side while sleeping.
• Use a humidifier.
Dry air passages can encourage snoring, so moisten the air in your bedroom with a humidifier or a steam vaporizer
• Learn to sing.
Singing and playing wind instruments can strengthen the muscles in your throat, which will make you less likely to snore. In one study, a group of chronic snorers practiced singing for 20 minutes a day for three months. "Snoring was on average reduced, especially in subjects who performed the exercises accurately and consistently and who were not overweight," wrote the researchers. "Those who did best, in addition, had no nasal problems and began snoring only in middle age." If you'd like to try the singing exercises, go here
for the "Singing for Snorers" program.
• Skip nightcaps.
Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the back of the throat, making you more likely to snore — even non-snorers may snore after a drink or two. Avoid alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime.
If you still snore, consider consulting with your doctor. You may have sleep apnea or some other physical problem that needs medical attention.
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