Nothing is more exasperating than you wanting to get a good night sleep, but constantly disturbed by your partner’s noisy snoring. Snoring can get in the way of a healthy relationship with your spouse. It is said that sleep partners of people who snore very heavily can be awakened at least 20 times per hour, causing ruthless sleep disruption and excessive daytime sleepiness. Eventually, this will take its toll on emotional and physical aspects of marital relationship.

Snoring is quite a common problem that can occur in all ages. It is produced when air can not move freely while inhaling or exhaling during sleep, due to certain soft structures in the mouth or throat that partially block the airway passages. For instance, people who snore often have too much throat or floppy nasal tissue that is prone to vibrate as air passes through. Tongue position during sleeping can also get in the way during breathing. Even big tonsils vibrate against each other as air passes in and out of the mouth, creating the annoying sound of snoring.

There are a number of risk factors of snoring. Risk factors which are non-modifiable include the following: being male; being middle-aged or beyond; having allergies, asthma, cold or sinus infections (these conditions blocks the airways making inhalation difficult); and heredity (some are born with a narrow throat, large tonsils, cleft palate and other physical factors that cause snoring). Modifiable factors of snoring are: being overweight (due to excess fatty tissue in the throat); smoking, alcohol, and medications (these relaxes the airway muscles causing congestion); and poor sleeping posture.

By knowing the common causes of snoring, especially the modifiable ones, it makes sense to try these simple, non-invasive, self-help remedies.

1. Sleep on your side. This will prevent soft tissues of your throat from relaxing, thereby maximizing the airway passage.

2. Try to elevate the head of your bed. This should make breathing easier as it will help your tongue and jaw to move forward. The tongue then will be far from obstructing the airways.

3. Lose weight. This has very significant effect especially to people who snore and are obese. Losing even a little bit of weight can reduce fatty tissue and decrease snoring.

4. Use nasal decongestants or nasal strips to clear nasal passages. Try not to tolerate a stuffy nose while sleeping as this will make inhalation difficult, creating a vacuum in our throat, which in turn leads to the production of the snoring sound.

5. Avoid smoking (even secondhand smoke), alcohol and medications (such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills)

If your own efforts do not work to stop the snoring, consult a physician or better yet, an otolaryngologist (a doctor who specializes in ears, nose, and throat) because there are a lot of treatments available for snoring that need an expert’s advise. It can range from medical cures, use of dental devices, and surgery. There is even a treatment that involves a machine that is placed at the bedside of the patient. To keep the airway open, the machine blows pressurized air into the mask worn by the patient during sleep.

While most couples solve the problem of interrupted sleep due to snoring by sleeping in separate bedrooms, the best remedy is to discover the cause of snoring. This is important because identifying the cause of snoring will determine the right cure, and this will greatly improve not only the couples’ health and communication, but their intimacy as well.