If you snore and you wake up feeling tired each morning, that noisy habit may be getting in the way of a good night's sleep. Your body is working hard to get enough air as you sleep so it's not getting the rest it needs. Here is what is happening behind the snoring and how to stop it so your body can fully rest.
Your Noisy Airway
Something in your nose, mouth or throat is preventing you from getting enough air down into your lungs. It could be an extra bit of tissue because of genetic differences. Or it can be a temporary inflammation along the airway because of seasonal allergies. Regardless of the cause, your body must work harder to get the air it needs. The force of your breathing causes tissues along the airway to vibrate, which results in the snoring sound. The treatment of snoring seeks to identify where the noise occurs and stop the vibrations.
Flexible adhesive strips attach to the outside of your nose to hold the nostrils open. If the problem is in the first few inches of your nose, these strips may give you some relief. They are readily available at your local drug store and may be worth trying if you suspect the snoring is coming from your nose.
If allergies cause inflammation of your nasal passages, the tissues of your nose may vibrate as you fight for air while you sleep. A nasal spray used before you go to bed may reduce the swelling and open up the nasal passages so you can breathe without all of the racket. If over-the-counter sprays don't give you enough relief, your doctor can give you prescription-strength sprays to try. If you want to learn more about a particular brand of nasal spray, you can check it out here.
Also called oral appliances, these devices are worn in the mouth like the mouth guard used in sporting activities. Some are made to hold the mouth open slightly so your body can get more air into the lungs. Others prevent the tongue or roof of the mouth (soft palate) from vibrating as you sleep. Some oral appliances may be found at the drug store. Your doctor can order custom made mouth pieces that are more comfortable to wear all night.
When these non-invasive treatment approaches don't give you enough relief, surgery can be done to remove the tissues along the airway that vibrate. Some of the typical procedures include:
Removal of the uvula - If the small piece of tissue that hangs down in the back of your throat (uvula) becomes swollen and vibrates against your throat, it can be removed partially or completely.
Soft palate resection - A portion of the tissue in the roof of your mouth (soft palate) can be removed if it hangs down into your throat and vibrates as you breathe.
Tonsil removal - If you still have your tonsils, they can become infected and swollen, partially blocking your airway and making your body work harder for the air it needs.
Nasal cavity reconstruction - A rhinoplasty reshapes the cartilage in the nose to open up the nasal passages if they are the cause of the vibration.
As soon as the cause of the vibrations is identified and corrected, your body can relax at night and you'll wake up feeling rested and refreshed again.