Hacks and Exercises to Help You Stop Snoring Without Resorting to a CPAP
Is your doctor suggesting that you may need to start using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for a better night’s sleep? But you don’t want to. Here are some hacks and exercises to help you stop snoring that you will want to try before resorting to CPAP.
Your snoring can be more than a cause of marital discord—it can also be a red flag for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA is a serious medical condition where your sleep is frequently punctuated throughout the night with noisy stops and starts in your breathing that can leave you feeling exhausted the following day. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that 34 percent of men and 19 percent of women who snore routinely either have OSA or are at risk for it.
The danger of this—aside from constant tiredness and falling asleep behind the wheel or increasing your risk of having a workplace injury—is that sleep apnea also increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, and high blood pressure.
While the standard treatment for moderate to severe OSA is strapping on a CPAP device nightly to keep your airway open and your body properly oxygenated for restive sleep, it can be difficult to accept that you may need to use CPAP and start looking a little more like your old Uncle Frank in bed. And that’s understandable. Accepting changes in our body and our health can be difficult. And how often have you seen a mattress commercial or a movie with someone sleeping who had a CPAP on? It is what it is.
The good news is that there are options to try before accepting that having a CPAP may be the life-saver you need—at least for now.
Hacks and Exercises for Stopping Your Snoring
According to a recent Consumer Reports on Health advisement, writer Catherine Winters offers these lifestyle exercises and hacks you can try to help you stop snoring.
Sleep expert recommended hacks:
1. Ease a stuffy nose. Over-the-counter nasal strips “may help keep nasal passageways open,” says Romy Hoque, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. You can also rinse your nose with an OTC saline solution or stand in a steamy shower.
2. Elevate your head. You can buy a special pillow to lift your chin and keep your tongue from blocking the back of your throat as you sleep. But any wedge-shaped pillow will do, Hoque says.
3. Sleep on your side. To keep from rolling onto your back during the night, which triggers snoring, place a body or bolster pillow against your back.
4. Avoid alcohol for 4 hours before bed. Alcohol relaxes your airway muscles, constricting airflow.
5. Quit smoking. Tobacco smoke can irritate throat membranes.
6. Lose excess weight. “Fat around the neck compresses the upper airway and impedes airflow,” says Raj Dasgupta, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In fact, OSA has been associated with a neck circumference greater than 17 inches in men and greater than 16 inches in women.
Sleep expert recommended exercises to strengthen your mouth and tongue
Here are four exercises to try to help you stop snoring that should be performed 20 times each.
Exercise 1: Push the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth and slide the tongue backward.
Exercise 2: Suck the tongue upward against the roof of the mouth and press the entire tongue against the roof of the mouth.
Exercise 3: Force the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom front teeth.
Exercise 4: Elevate the soft palate (the back of the roof of the mouth) and the uvula (the fleshy protrusion that hangs from the soft palate) while making the vowel sound “A.”
When You Need More Help
If you find that using hacks and exercise strategies is not putting an end to your snoring, then it’s time to see your doctor and most likely a sleep specialist or an otolaryngologist, who may recommend an overnight sleep test to see whether or not you have OSA. In fact, you may find that your sleep snoring may be remedied by devices less invasive than CPAP that can provide you with the level of care you really need. In any case, sleep apnea is a serious condition and regardless of how your Uncle Frank looked in bed with his CPAP on, when it comes to your health—little else really matters.
Reference: Consumer Reports on Health “How to Stop Snoring”
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