After a long day, the number one thing you probably want to do is crawl into bed and get a good night’s rest. But if you’re one of the more than 37 million Americans who snores, chances are you’ll be getting a good night’s sleep, but your S.O. won’t. So what exactly is responsible for making these disruptive noises that we call snoring? The National Sleep Foundation refers to it as “noisy breathing,” and it occurs when an individual’s throat passage significantly narrows while breathing.
Snoring is not just a silly thing—it affects the quality of life for the entire household. Those who snore often report headaches, daytime sleepiness, and inability to pay attention; their partners resort to catching their z's in different rooms and nudge their bedmate throughout the night if not. With all of these factors in play, what is one to do to kick a snoring habit to the curb? We’ve found five simple expert-backed tips for how to stop snoring for good. Scroll through to see our top picks, and then give them a try.
SLEEP ON YOUR SIDE
What if you could stop snoring just by switching up your sleeping position? Science finds that when you sleep on your back, your throat muscles sink into a relaxed position in the back of your throat, making it more difficult for you to breathe. Your best option is to sleep on your side, says Maria Suurna, MD, an otolaryngologist at New York–Presbyterian Hospital. If you have difficulty staying in that position, she suggests using a body pillow to prop yourself up.
INVEST IN NOSE STRIPS
Snoring can be a result of constantly having a stuffy nose. Luckily, tiny adhesive strips (aka nose strips) can be placed on your nose to help lift your sinus passages and help you breathe easier. A study in the European Respiratory Journal found that the usage of nose strips helped to lessen the overall amount of snoring in its participants (snorers were either given the strips or a placebo, and then both groups were analyzed). Before drastic measures need to be taken, stop by the pharmacy and see if these work for you.
AVOID HAVING A NIGHTCAP
In fact, you should avoid drinking alcohol for three to four hours before you go to bed. Alcohol is actually known to increase the amount a person snores up to 10 times more than normal. This occurs because it’s a natural relaxant and causes your throat to remain wider than normal so your soft palate tissue and uvula vibrate as air passes through, causing you to snore.
START DOING MOUTH EXERCISES
Yes, it may sound odd, but doing various tongue and mouth exercises can lessen the amount you snore. These movements are called oropharyngeal exercises and they range from sliding your tongue from the roof of your mouth backward to opening your mouth and saying “ahhh” like you do at your yearly physical. A study conducted in 2015 found that those who used these mouth and tongue exercises for a period of three months saw a 36% decrease in how often they snored, meaning this just may be a workout you should add to your routine.
EMBRACE YOUR MUSICAL SIDE
Research shows that people who sing or play a wind instrument reportedly snore less than those who don’t partake in either of these hobbies. A study in the journal Sleep and Breathing looked at 52 semi-professional choir singers and compared them to 55 non-singers; the result was that the singers snored less overall (in fact, there’s even a popular program called Singing for Snorers that teaches specific vocal exercises to reduce snoring). Additionally, a study in the British Medical Journal indicates that when individuals practiced playing the didgeridoo—an Australian wind instrument—sleep apnea symptoms decreased, and the snorers’ partners reported fewer night disturbances.
Be sure to read about the scientific reason your sleep is getting worse, and share your ideas for how to stop snoring in the comments.