How to Stop Snoring Naturally

Snoring is the hoarse sound you make when your breathing gets blocked while you’re sleeping. In addition to disturbing others, snoring can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling sleepy, fatigued, and like you have a cold. Snoring has a variety of causes, so getting relief can feel hard. Fortunately, you may be able to stop snoring naturally by changing your sleep habits, making lifestyle changes, and doing anti-snoring exercises. However, it’s best to see your doctor if your snoring doesn’t improve, it seriously impacts your life, or you have symptoms of sleep apnea.

Sleep HabitsDownload Article

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    Follow a routine sleep schedule. For some people, snoring is the result of a frequently-changing or irregular sleep schedule. Working very long hours before sleeping, skipping a night's rest, or failing to sleep enough over long periods of time can leave the body extremely fatigued. When the body does get a chance to sleep, it "crashes," sleeping especially long and hard. During this intense sleep, the muscles at the back of the throat relax more than they normally would, which makes snoring more likely.[1]
    • To avoid this state, try to get a full night's sleep starting at about the same time every night. Though everyone's sleep needs are different, most adults do best with about 7-9 hours of sleep.[2] Children and teens usually require somewhat more.
    • Wait until bedtime to sleep. Naps are a great way to recharge your batteries when you have a stable sleep schedule, but they are counter-productive when trying to change sleeping habits. Do not nap at all during the day so that you can fall asleep at the appropriate time later.
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    Avoid stimulation before bed. Use the bed only for sleep and sexual activity. Do not watch TV or look at your phone. About an hour before bed, turn off all of your electronics and dim the lights of your phone and computer, since your eyes are sensitive to the bluish light emitted by electronic screens.[3]
    • Avoid stimulants after mid-day. Depending on the size of your body, the amount you ingest, and your general health, the effects of caffeine can remain active in your body for up to 5 to 10 hours after initial consumption. Avoid coffee and caffeinated teas and sodas.
    • Avoid eating within 3 hours of going to bed.
    • Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your body. While this will help you fall asleep, alcohol also slows down your metabolism and interferes with your brain during its sleep cycles. You're likely to wake up more often if you've consumed alcohol before bed.[4]
    • Avoid heavy exercise 1-2 hours before bed. Doctors advise that you avoid a heavy cardio workout a few hours before you plan to go to bed; this can unsettle your circadian rhythm and make your sleep less restful. That said, light stretching and exercising, such as an evening walk, are probably useful in getting you ready to go sleep.[5]
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    Practice breathing exercises before bed. This can help you relax before bed and also set proper and functional breathing in motion even before you hit the hay. Just breathe deeply for a few minutes while focusing only on your breath.[6] Or, try the 4-7-8 technique: breathe in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8.[7]
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    Create an environment that helps you fall asleep. Keep your room dark at night. Sleep specialists note that your circadian rhythm is influenced by light and darkness. This means that many people have a hard time falling asleep when it's still light out, which happens in the summer thanks to daylight savings.[8] At night, shut your blinds and curtains. Turn off bright overhead lights. Consider getting a blackout curtain that keeps any light from shining through. If it's still too bright or too much light is getting in, consider wearing a sleep mask.
    • Keep your room cool—between 60 and 67 °F (16 and 19 °C) is ideal.[9]
    • If you live in a dry climate, you may want to try running a humidifier in your bedroom as you sleep. Sensitive throats can sometimes be irritated by breathing in the dry air throughout the night.
    • Turn on white noise. You can listen to some light music or put a fan on for some background noise.
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    Keep your bedroom air free of irritants. The membranes of the throat and soft palate, the tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth, can be irritated by breathing in dust, pollen, dander, and other airborne particles—especially if you have allergies to these things. This irritation can lead to swelling of the throat membranes, narrowing the airway and making snoring more likely. Luckily, eliminating these irritants is usually a simple matter of keeping the bedroom and the bed itself as clean as possible. Here are a few pointers:[10]
    • Wash sheets and pillowcases every week. If you have pollen allergies, dry them in a dryer and not on the clothesline, or at least inside where there is less pollen.
    • Replace old pillows every 6 months.
    • Vacuum the room and clean surfaces (including ceiling fixtures) regularly.
    • Keep animals out of the bed.
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    Sleep on your side. In adults, snoring usually occurs when the soft palate and upper throat collapse during sleep, restricting airflow to the lungs and causing the characteristic "rattling" noise of snoring with each breath. When you sleep on your back, the positioning of your head and neck make it much easier for the soft palate to collapse on the tongue and upper throat. To start fighting a bad case of snoring, try sleeping on your side. This simple change is sometimes enough to drastically improve a bad case of snoring.[11]
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    Elevate your head slightly. Sometimes, stopping a bad case of snoring is as easy as buying a bigger pillow. Propping your head by just a few inches during sleep can reposition your tongue and jaw, opening your airway and making snoring less likely. Try using more than one pillow, buying a thicker pillow, or simply folding your current pillow over on itself to give your head the extra elevation you need to stay snore-free.[12]
    • Keeping your head raised helps keep the airways open.
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    Clear your nasal passages before bed. If your sinuses are blocked when you go to sleep, your body may rely entirely on mouth-breathing (which is much more likely to cause snoring) while it's asleep. To prevent this, try to make a habit of clearing your sinuses before sleeping. One easy way to do this is simply to take a hot shower a few minutes before you get into bed; the hot water and warm, moist, air stimulate your sinuses to open.[13]
    • Alternatively, use nasal strips or external nasal dilators.

Lifestyle ChangesDownload Article

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    Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight on your body can make snoring worse. In some cases, extra weight can make your throat and neck tissue bulkier, especially if you’re a man. Over time, you’re also at risk for developing a sleep disorder.[14] Talk to your doctor about a healthy weight for you. If you need to lose weighteat a healthy diet of fresh produce and lean proteins and exercise for 30 minutes daily. However, talk to your doctor before changing your diet or exercise habits. Some helpful tips include:[15]
    • Increase the fiber in your diet. More fiber increases bowel regularity and helps you feel "full" longer. In other words, fiber can help decrease the amount of food you eat because you don’t get hungry as often. Good sources of fiber include brown rice, barley, corn, rye, bulgar wheat, kasha (buckwheat), and oatmeal.
    • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Get more leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, collard greens, spinach, lettuces, beet greens into your diet. These are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and are low in calories. Fruits are also great sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients and make a great snack.
    • Limit the amounts of fatty or red meats in your diet. Increase the amounts of fish and skinless poultry you eat.
    • Avoid foods that are "white" like white bread and white rice. These foods have been processed and have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value. In general, try to avoid pre-packaged or prepared foods as well as most "fast foods." These tend to have higher amounts of sugars, salts and fats added to "improve" their taste.[16]
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    Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Exercising daily may make snoring more manageable. By improving your overall muscle tone, exercise can also help your throat maintain its proper shape during sleep. If your soft palate and upper throat do not collapse downward into your tongue, your chance of snoring is greatly reduced.[17]
    • Everyone's exercise needs are different. In general, aim to get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) per week, along with 2 days of moderate strength-training exercise.[18] If more intense exercise is performed, the total amount of time spent exercising can be smaller.
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    Keep hydrated so your airway is less likely to get obstructed. When people are dehydrated, the secretions in their nose and throat naturally become thicker and sticker. In some cases, this can translate to a more obstructed airway and increased snoring. Drink at least 90–125 fluid ounces (2.7–3.7 L) of water daily. Staying hydrated can keep the tissues inside your mouth and nose moistened, which can help control breathing difficulties.[19]
    • Different people's daily water needs can vary greatly based on their sex, size, and level of activity. In general, you'll know if you're getting enough water if you rarely feel thirsty and your urine is colorless or a light yellow.
    • If you have trouble getting more water in your diet, try drinking a glass of water with each meal and then between each meal. Be sure as well to drink water before, during and after any exercise you may do.
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    Avoid relying on sleep aids. Any sort of drug or chemical that helps you get to sleep can potentially become an addictive crutch with repeated use.[20] Even short-term use can cause episodes of excessive snoring. The same sorts of chemicals that make it easier to get to sleep also usually relax the body's muscles, including those in the throat. This causes the soft palate to collapse on the back of the tongue during sleep, leading to snoring.
    • Note that this includes alcohol, which, like sleeping pills, can have a depressant effect on the nervous system, making the airway collapse during sleep.
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    Stop smoking if you do. You likely know that smoking can cause health problems, but it can also increase the likelihood of your snoring. Though the cause-and-effect relationship isn't perfectly understood, it's thought that the throat irritation from smoking can lead to swelling and inflammation, narrowing the airway during sleep. In addition, if the smoker suffers from overnight nicotine withdrawal, their sleep may be interrupted, raising the risk of airway obstruction.[21]
    • Note that being exposed to second-hand smoke has been found to have similar snoring-causing effects as actually smoking tobacco.

Anti-Snoring ExercisesDownload Article

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    Try a tongue extension. Though it may sound unlikely, believe it or not, there is some evidence that performing exercises to physically strengthen the mouth and throat can make snoring less likely. With these muscles stronger, it's less likely that they'll collapse during sleep and obstruct your airway. Move your tongue backward from behind your front teeth toward the back of your throat for a simple exercise.[22]
    • Do this for 3 minutes every day.
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    Try exercising your throat muscles. Strengthening the muscles of the throat can help keep your soft palate from collapsing onto the back of your tongue. One easy throat exercise is simply to repeatedly say each vowel loudly and clearly about thirty times before bed, taking short breaks in between vowels.[23]
    • When the exercise is done correctly, you should sound more or less like this: "Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah ... ee, ee, ee, ee ... Oh, oh, oh ...," and so on. If you're embarrassed to do this in front of your partner, you may alternatively want to do this as you drive to work.
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    Sing. One of the best throat exercises of all is to simply sing! Not only has frequent singing been shown to decrease the frequency of snoring, but it increases the quality of sleep. Singing works to increase muscle control in the throat and soft palate, thus strengthening your muscles and keeping them from collapsing during sleep.[24]
    • If you don't already sing, try enrolling in singing lessons, joining a local choir, or even simply singing in the car.

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    Take up the didgeridoo. Learning to play this aboriginal wind Australian instrument has reportedly decreased or eliminated snoring in adults. This is because playing the instrument helps to strengthen the throat and soft palate.[25]

Medical CareDownload Article

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    See your doctor if your snoring doesn’t improve or seriously impacts your life. Try natural approaches to treating your snoring for 4-6 weeks to see if it improves. If it doesn’t, you may need additional treatments. Similarly, you might seek care from your doctor sooner if your snoring is greatly impacting your life, like if you feel extremely fatigued or are experiencing relationship issues due to snoring. Your doctor will do a physical exam and review your symptoms to make a diagnosis.[26]
    • If you aren’t sleeping well, you might get into an accident or have trouble at school or work due to fatigue or trouble concentrating.
    • If your snoring is making it difficult for a loved one to sleep, your doctor can help.
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    See your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of sleep apnea. Although snoring is usually not dangerous, it may be related to a serious condition called sleep apnea. When you have sleep apnea, your airway becomes so obstructed while you’re sleeping that you stop breathing. This puts you at risk for suffocating, as well as stroke, heart attack, and other serious complications. Try not to worry, though, because your doctor can help you get the right diagnosis and treat your condition. Here are the symptoms you need to watch for:[27]
    • Very loud snoring during sleep
    • Waking from sleep with a choking sensation
    • Extreme fatigue even after a full night's rest
    • Restless sleep
    • Chest pain during the night
    • Poor attention span
    • Headaches in the morning
    • Narcolepsy (falling asleep at inappropriate times)
    • Decreased liveliness, decreased libido, mood changes
    • Observed sleep disruptions
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    Expect your doctor to do an imaging test to look for airway obstructions. These tests may include X-rays, a CT-scan, or an MRI. They’ll produce images of your throat and airways so your doctor can check for abnormalities. This can help them diagnose the cause of your snoring so you get the right treatment for your needs.[28]
    • X-rays will show the basic structure of your airways, but a CT-scan or MRI can show more detailed images.
    • These tests are all painless, but you might get uncomfortable from having to stay still.
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    Get a sleep study if your doctor recommends it. You most likely won’t need a sleep study, but your doctor may recommend getting one if they aren’t sure what’s causing your snoring or they suspect you have sleep apnea. Your sleep study may be done at home or in a sleep center. During the test, your medical team will use sensors to monitor your movement, brain waves, breathing, heart rate, sleep stages, and oxygen levels. Then, the doctor will review your results to make a diagnosis.[29]
    • You won’t experience pain during a sleep study, but you might feel uncomfortable.
    • Most sleep studies are done overnight for the entire night.
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    Ask your doctor about a dental mouthpiece to relieve snoring. You can get a special oral device that fits into your mouth to help relieve snoring. It will adjust your jaw, tongue, and soft palate so that your airways stay open. Wear this device while you’re sleeping to minimize snoring.[30]
    • A dentist will fit you with your mouthpiece.
    • You might experience mild discomfort, jaw pain, excessive salivation, or dry mouth while using your mouthpiece.
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    Use a CPAP machine if you have sleep apnea. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine helps stop your snoring and keeps you breathing throughout the night. It has a mask that fits over your nose or mouth while you sleep. Then, the machine pumps a steady stream of air into your airways. Make sure you use your CPAP machine nightly to help control your condition.[31]
    • You might find the mask to be uncomfortable, but you may get used to wearing it. Also, this machine can be a bit loud.
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Hey, I am founder of Bhaskar Health and completed my Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. My clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab.

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