You can solve this problem once and for all
Anyone who snores — or lives with a person who does — knows that it can literally ruin your own health or that of your partner if it robs either of you of too much sleep.
If you’re lucky, your snoring will be temporary and due to something harmless such as nasal congestion caused by a cold. But for roughly one of every four American adults, snoring is a chronic problem.
Good news: There are two little-known — some people might say quirky — therapies that work extremely well.
FIGHTING THE BATTLE
Snoring isn’t always easy to correct, so people who suffer from this condition will do almost anything to get relief. Fortunately, some people eliminate their snoring with surprisingly simple approaches, such as sleeping on their sides. A trick that may help: Sewing a pocket on the back of your sleepwear and placing a tennis ball inside will help keep you off your back during sleep.
Wearing a mouth guard at night, which repositions the tongue to help stop the snoring, also may help.
For people whose snoring is due to sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing temporarily ceases during sleep, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is often prescribed.
With this treatment, a small pump delivers air through a nasal mask to keep the airway open. However, many people find the CPAP mask uncomfortable and stop using it.
In severe cases, some people who snore resort to surgery to tighten and cut the excess tissues that cause snoring. Risks include infection and bleeding.
Problem: None of these therapies works well for all snorers.
Alternatives worth trying: Of the thousands of snoring patients I’ve treated over the past 40 years, I’ve seen the most remarkable results from two nonsurgical therapies. Both approaches can correct snoring by strengthening the loose, flaccid muscles of the tongue and throat that obstruct the airway, leading to the forceful breathing that causes snoring. Try one or both of these therapies to relieve your snoring.
BLOW A DIDGERIDOO
The didgeridoo (pronounced did-jer-ee-DOO) is an Australian wooden or bamboo trumpet that is approximately four feet long. Blowing it helps tone the muscles of the tongue and throat, making snoring far less likely to occur.
Scientific evidence: A BMJ (British Medical Journal) study found that people with mild sleep apnea who practiced playing the didgeridoo for 30 minutes daily, six days a week, for four months had significant improvement in their sleep apnea symptoms, including snoring.
In my practice, the didgeridoo has helped numerous snorers regardless of whether they had sleep apnea. I recommend playing it 20 minutes daily. To watch an instructional video, go to eHow.com and search “Basic Didgeridoo Articulation.”
EASY THROAT EXERCISES
Certain throat exercises also help relieve snoring by strengthening the tongue and throat muscles.
Scientific evidence: Research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine found that performing throat exercises, such as those described below, for 30 minutes daily for three months reduced snoring and improved sleep quality.
To reduce snoring, try each of the following exercises for at least five minutes daily…
Exercise 1. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth repeatedly — as hard as you can — for 20 seconds at a time.
Exercise 2. While pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth, say the vowel sounds — “a”… “e”… “i”… “o”… “u.”
Exercise 3. Place your tongue at the front of the roof of your mouth, pressing it against the back of your upper teeth. Then slide it all the way to the back of the roof of the mouth. As you do this, rapidly pronounce the vowel sounds.
Exercise 4. While keeping your tongue pressed against the roof of your mouth, swallow repeatedly. (Do not try this with food in your mouth!)
It may take a few months to strengthen your tongue and throat muscles. Be patient — it will be time well spent if you finally stop snoring.