I hear a countless variety of sleep complaints, but certain sleep issues crop up again and again. Here are five of the most common sleep problems, and my sleep-better solutions.
Sleep Problem: My husband snores.
Sleep-better Solution: As many as 50% of adults snore, making snoring one of the most common sleep disorders. Snoring is caused by a narrowing of the airway, which limits the flow of air and also increases the speed of airflow through the nose and air passages. This faster-moving air creates a vibration at the back of the mouth and throat. It is these vibrations that create the sounds we know as snoring.
Snoring is a sleep issue that can affect the health of the snorer. But snoring also affects the sleep of partners as well. A study showed that bed partners of people who snore lose an average of an hour of sleep per night because of their bedmates’ snoring. Here are my strategies for improving a snoring situation:
- Decongest. There are a number of non-prescription methods that can help allay congestion, including nasal sprays and nasal strips, and over-the-counter decongestant medications. A steam bath can help to clear the nasal passages before bed (and help you relax in the process), and a nasal wash with a saline solution using a neti pot can also be effective in reducing congestion.
- Elevate. Keeping the snorer’s head and neck elevated can help to keep the airway open. Invest in a foam wedge pillow or specialty pillow that tilts the head back to open the airway. Using a nasal strip with this type of pillow provides a solution that can really keep that airway open all night!
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the muscles of the airway, which can contribute to snoring. Keep drinking moderate, and don’t consume alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
- Mask the sound. While it’s important to address the snoring itself, it’s also important that partners get some peace and quiet. Earplugs, a sound machine, and even a wall of pillows can act as a sound barrier.
- Lose weight. Even a modest weight loss for snorers – 5% of body weight – can make a difference in the severity of snoring.