January 24, 2014
Sleep typically brings relaxation and rest. However, when the muscles surrounding the upper airways relax too much, the airway space constricts, and inhalation results in the harsh vibratory noise known as snoring. Each night, about 40 percent of people sleeping probably are snoring. Those who share a bed with a habitual snorer find little rest or relaxation. Fortunately, bedtime can regain its peace, and quiet can be restored with the help of a few creative remedies to counter snoring.
Researchers at the University of Zurich found that regularly playing a didgeridoo reduced nighttime snoring in people with moderate sleep apnea. Playing the didgeridoo, an Australian Aboriginal wind instrument, requires circular breathing, which strengthens the muscles that dilate the upper airway. Strengthened airway muscles reduce the likelihood that the airway tissue will go limp during sleep and cause snoring. Other instruments, particularly the trumpet, clarinet and tuba, that involve similar breathing techniques as the didgeridoo might be similarly effective, but minimal research exists yet.
Exercise in general reduces the likelihood of snoring, since working out helps maintain a fit physique. Since extra weight adds neck fat that narrows air passages, which in turn contributes to snoring, slimming down minimizes snoring by alleviating the added pressure on those passageways. Additionally, exercising the muscles surrounding those passageways strengthens and tones the muscles that relax and vibrate during sleep. A few times a day, touch your tongue tip to the roof of your mouth and make a fast "tsk-tsk" sound. Another exercise requires sticking the tongue straight out as far as possible and then moving it left to right and then up and down.
Ideally, you should sleep only on your side or stomach, freeing any obstructed airflow. To prevent you from shifting to your back during sleep, you must make doing so uncomfortable. In the fairytale "The Princess and the Pea," her highness has such heightened sensitivity that she feels a pea placed beneath a pile of mattresses and cannot sleep comfortably. In the real world, few suffer from such extreme sensitivity. Usually, an irritant larger than a pea is required. A tennis ball taped or sewn to the back of sleepwear serves as an effective deterrent from laying in a supine position.
Most lists of tips on the topic of snoring include mention of what not to eat or drink. For example, you are warned against mucus-producing dairy and cautioned against alcohol, caffeine or heavy meals within an hour or two of bedtime. In contrast, the following list suggests a few items you should eat to help silence the snoring:
The didgeridoo, exercise, sleeping position and foods provide relief for many snorers and their partners. What other solutions have proven effective at restoring a quiet night of sleep?
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