Healthy people who breathe correctly while they are asleep do not snore. Perhaps intermittent or occasional snoring occurs when this person has a cold or an allergy, but then it could be argued that at this particular time the person is not totally healthy, and therefore why would the breathing be normal?
The reason that healthy people do not make the snoring sound is because they breathe softly through their nose when they are asleep. The Buteyko method is perfect for restoring a healthy breathing pattern, and reducing the snoring sound as the breathing becomes more normal.
If you have not yet learned the Buteyko method, then there are lots of suggestions to help you to stop snoring in the short term:
Breathe Through Your Nose
Because breathing through the nose tends to make less noise than breathing through the mouth, the primary assault on snoring is to get people to breathe through their nose.
Surgery tackles this by widening or straightening nasal passages, or by removing parts of the upper airways, such as tonsils or polyps.
Drug companies will sell you a variety of preparations that include saline, anti-inflammatory steroids, nasal dilators, anti-histamines, or concoctions that thin mucus or reduce its production.
Inhalations of steam and mentolated oils are said to help soothe the nasal passages.
Those who are gadget-minded can buy all kinds of things that contain springs, magnets or sticky paper to widen the nostrils, or tapes, mouthguards and pillows that aim to keep the mouth closed.
You can probably get your nose clear without any of the above if you make a special effort to only use your nose to breathe through when you are awake. If you have trouble with a stuffy nose, then try the special nose-clearing Buteyko exercise.
Widen Your Upper Airway
If widening your nose so that you can breathe more easily through it isn’t enough, then maybe you can widen another part of the upper airway, or stop your tongue from flopping back in your throat and blocking it up a bit.
There are oral appliances that help with this one. For instance there is a double mouthguards that lock the top and bottom jaw together and also pull the lower jaw slightly forward so that there is more room for airflow. There is one that also pulls your tongue forward as well as your jaw, and a device that looks a bit like a dummy when it is in place. This device suctions onto the tongue to pull it forward and out of the way of the air rushing down your throat. Having something in your mouth often stimulates the saliva glands, and so it is not surprising that dribbling is a common complaint from the people who use these devices.
Surgeons can obviously help you with widening your upper airway by trimming off bits of your uvula (dangly thing at the back of your mouth that helps to stop fluid or food from being sucked back up into your nasal passages) and the other soft tissue in the throat area, or by moving your lower jaw permanently forward (perhaps giving you that Dick Tracy look you have always dreamed of). The uvula can also be scarred by laser or the knife so that it doesn’t wobble so much, and therefore it will make less noise when you are breathing too vigorously for healthy, restorative sleep. Note: It is strongly recommended that before having surgery or anything else that is going to permanently change your bite or face, ask to talk to a few people who have had the procedure.
Sleep on Your Side
Snoring is usually louder when the person lies on their back, rather than on their side because when lying on your back you are lifting the whole rib cage against gravity. This means that you will need to breathe with extra force, and this extra force often causes the snoring sound. There are many recommendations to get you lying on your side.
There are plenty of pillow and mattress maunfacturers that claim you will be well-supported while lying on your side if you use their product.
Pain killers and anti-inflammatory gels and pills help to reduce sore joints so that you can sleep comfortably.
Place a tennis ball in a stocking, and tie the stocking around your chest so that the tennis ball is in the middle of the back. If the tennis ball doesn’t appeal then wearing a small backpack stuffed with clothes might be an alternative.
Can’t Lie on Your Side?
Some people cannot lie on their back and if you fall into this category, then there are some suggestions for you too:
Use a pillow that slightly raises your head, but not so much that your neck is kinked and your chin ends up on your chest.
Put a pillow or two under the mattress to build a wedge shape so that your head is slightly higher than your feet.
Put a book or half a brick under the bed legs at the head end.
General Rules for Not Snoring
Eating too late, or having a large meal often leads up to snoring, so aim to not over eat, and let your evening meal settle before going to sleep. Perhaps wait for at least two hours after eating before going to sleep.
Drinking too much alcohol usually makes anyone breathe heavily, even when they are awake, and so it comes as no surprise that alcohol commonly causes loud snoring. If you need to over-indulge, perhaps it is possible to do this earlier in the day, so that by bed time your breathing has returned to normal. If this is unlikely, then perhaps it is feasible to provide others sleeping nearby with ear plugs.
If you are over-weight, then without creating additional stress in your life, see if you can become more active so that you are likely to lose some weight.
Anything that irritates the delicate throat tissues, such as smoking, is likely to cause snoring as the irritated tissue will swell, further impeding the smooth flow of air. So stop smoking, inhaling fumes through your mouth, yelling loudly, etc.
If you are in pain, and take muscle relaxants, then be prepared to snore more loudly as the increased relaxation of muscles causes more snoring. Perhaps soaking your feet in hot water to which some Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate) has been added may be a better option than using other types of muscle relaxants.
Snoring is partly caused because when we sleep the muscles in our throat, jaw and face are very relaxed, and one school of thought is that some people have floppier muscles than usual, and that can have more tone if they are exercised. There are tongue, lip and jaw exercises that you can practise to see if this stops you from snoring.
Snorers usually wake with a dry mouth and throat, and so some people think that their mouth and throat tissue must be too dry in the first, and this is causing the snoring sound. Oils to lubriate the throat can be purchased in an effort to moisten the airways. (Note: breathing through your nose will also do this).
Acupuncture may help to reduce snoring, and you can buy a ring to activate the associated acupressure spot on the little finger.
Being over-tired is a common trigger for snoring, so try to do moderate exercise and go to bed at a reasonable time instead of waiting until you are exhausted.
Keep a diary of daily activities, foods and drinks consumed, how tired you were when you went to bed, how hot it was, if the cat slept on the bed, etc. And compare these things with the amount of noise you made during sleep to see if you can build up a picture of things that tend to aggravate your breathing.