6 Simple Tricks to Help You Stop Snoring Tonight

Here's a hint: your sleep position makes a big difference.

Medically reviewed in March 2020

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Roughly 90 million American adults snore. It's often caused by the constriction of air flow in and out your nose, throat and mouth, and is influenced by common factors like your anatomy, alcohol intake, weight and sleeping on your back.

Don’t let this loud roar prevent you and your partner from being fully rested. Here are six things you can do to help stop snoring, tonight!

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Raise your head

Laying your head flat can cause your tongue to block your throat. By elevating your head between 10 and 30 degrees, or four inches from the bed, you can take off the extra pressure and stop that unbearable snore. “If you sleep upright, it prevents that gravity-dependent collapse of the upper airway,” says pulmonary disease expert Robin Elkus, MD, of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Pontiac, Michigan.

Consider investing in another pillow or a wedge for a good night’s sleep, or talk with your primary care physician to determine what elevation method is best for you.

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Sleep on your side

Sleeping on your stomach may reduce snoring, though it could put extra pressure on your chest and upper body, worsening the racket. So, try sleeping on your side to help stop snoring, because it helps open the airways. “If you are a snorer or suffer from sleep apnea, the best position to sleep in is upright/elevated and on your side,” says Dr. Elkus. Bonus: sleeping on your side lowers your chances of acid reflux, too.

If you're unable to sleep on your side, consider placing pillows around you, to help keep you in one position at night. Another trick is to sew a tennis ball in the back of a night shirt. This helps to keep you on your side.

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Avoid alcohol and smoking before bed

Lighting up or throwing one back before hitting the sack can also cause snoring. "Smoking makes snoring and apnea worse because smoking causes a lot of upper-airway inflammation," says Elkus. "Alcohol is a muscle relaxer, so it will make the upper airway more floppy during sleep."

That's not all: “Alcohol may help you fall asleep easier, but after it’s metabolized in three or four hours, it can actually make your sleep worse and more fragmented,” says Elkus. "The first half of the night you probably sleep okay, but then the second half of the night after it's metabolized, people often wake up a lot and can't sleep. Alcohol definitely makes snoring and sleep apnea worse." You should abstain from drinking alcohol for four to five hours before bedtime to avoid disrupting your sleep.

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Clear your nose

When you‘re sick, a stuffy nose can become a breathing obstacle, making it harder for air to flow in and out of your body. Clearing your nasal passages before bed makes it easier to breathe—which could lower your chances of snoring.

Blow your noise before going to sleep or consider using nasal strips to help open the nasal passages. You could also invest in a humidifier; keep your bedroom's humidity level of about 50 percent. Saline nasal sprays/gels and saline sinus rinses are safe and effective for nasal stuffiness and congestion.

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Get some oropharyngeal exercise

A small 2015 study from the American College of Chest Physicians found that exercising muscles in the throat, mouth and tongue can strengthen the muscles in the airways, and reduced participants' snoring frequency by about 36 percent and the power of snoring by 59 percent.

To help achieve a quieter night’s sleep, consider doing oropharyngeal exercises on a regular basis, such as elevating the back of your mouth and saying “A,” or pressing your tongue along the roof of your mouth, then sliding it backwards. Try workouts like yoga, swimming or jogging to lose weight and help you breathe more easily, which may help alleviate snoring overall.

Speaking of dropping pounds…

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Try losing weight

Carrying too much weight around your airways can compress them, making it more difficult to breathe while you sleep. “Weight gain can cause snoring to worsen, but weight loss can help improve it; weight loss for people with snoring and sleep apnea is always recommended,” says Elkus. Regular daily exercise is the single best way to improve the quality of sleep and should be part of a weight loss program, she adds.

Consider starting a healthy weight loss regimen that includes a wholesome diet and approximately 30 minutes a day of exercise. Talk to a healthcare provider (HCP) about a plan to help achieve your goal—and stop snoring, too.

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When to see an expert

According to the National Sleep Foundation, three out of every four snorers may experience sleep apnea, a disorder that causes you to stop breathing up to 100 times an hour. Sleep apnea affects 22 million Americans, and requires the help of an HCP to address treatment options, which can range from devices like breathing masks to surgery. “Untreated sleep apnea can cause other problems including increasing your risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart arrhythmia and hypertension,” says Eklus.

If you or your partner notices a pause in breathing during sleep, or stop-breathing episodes, consider talking with your HCP today to find the best treatment.

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