Lifestyle changes and treatment options may help with snoring

May 5, 2017 by From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network

Dear Mayo Clinic: Is there anything that can be done for snoring other than using a CPAP machine? I have tried using one for the past year, and while my wife says it does prevent me from snoring, I cannot sleep comfortably with it on.

A: Although they do reduce , continuous positive pressure, or CPAP, usually are prescribed for people who have , and not for snoring alone. If your snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, there are a number of steps you can take to try to make the CPAP machine more comfortable. Other treatment options and may help, too. If the problem is confined to just snoring, then a variety of alternatives are available.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. Loud snoring is a common symptom. A CPAP machine relieves sleep apnea by delivering air pressure through a mask placed over your nose while you sleep. With CPAP, the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air, so it keeps your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring.

CPAP is the most common and reliable way to treat sleep apnea. But the machine can be cumbersome or uncomfortable. Before you go to a different approach, you could try working with the company that supplies your CPAP machine to find a more comfortable mask. Adding heated humidity to the CPAP or lowering the CPAP pressure slightly also may make it easier to tolerate. Before you make these changes, though, talk to your doctor.

With an order from your doctor, you also could switch to a different device. One alternative is a unit that provides what is known as bilevel positive airway pressure, or BIPAP. It delivers more pressure when you inhale and less when you exhale, and tends to be better tolerated than CPAP. Another option is an oral appliance designed to advance your lower jaw to keep your throat open. This type of device is not as reliable as CPAP, but it usually is more comfortable.

You also could try nasal valves. These small, single-use devices are placed over each nostril. They allow air to move in freely. But when you exhale, air must go through small holes in the valve. This increases in the airway and keeps it open.

Weight loss can often help relieve sleep apnea and decrease snoring. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor about creating a weight-loss plan. For many people, returning to a healthy weight can cure sleep apnea.

If you have been using CPAP only for snoring, a number of other remedies may be helpful. First, try a few lifestyle changes. Avoid alcohol, especially before bedtime. It relaxes the muscles in the back of your throat, increasing snoring. Sleep on your abdomen or side, rather than on your back. Sleeping on your back can cause your tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat and block your airway.

If those measures are not enough to eliminate snoring, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend an oral appliance. These custom-fit dental mouthpieces position your tongue and soft palate to keep your air passage open as you sleep. Or, in a treatment called the pillar procedure, a doctor can insert braided strands of polyester filament into your , which stiffens it and reduces snoring. Surgery to reduce snoring, which involves trimming and tightening the excess tissue in your throat, also may be an option.

Finally, in some situations, consultation with an ear, nose and throat, or ENT, specialist is appropriate. An ENT evaluation may reveal that nasal obstruction is causing snoring. That type of obstruction can often be effectively eliminated with medical or surgical treatment.

Explore further: Study finds that CPAP therapy reduces acid reflux in people with sleep apnea


Related Stories

Study finds that CPAP therapy reduces acid reflux in people with sleep apnea

October 3, 2016
A new study suggests that CPAP therapy may help improve the symptoms of nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux in patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

New implantable device eases sleep apnea

June 6, 2016
Mike Freeman's backpacking buddies did not want their tents near his, and his wife was tired of waking in the middle of the night to get him to roll over and stop snoring. Mike has sleep apnea, a pretty dramatic case, he ...

Don't let sleep apnea take your breath away

April 27, 2016
There are some moments in life that take your breath away, but if those moments are happening while you're asleep, it might be time to see a sleep expert, according to a sleep specialist at Baylor College of Medicine.

Still tired after getting your zzz's? You might have sleep apnea

March 14, 2016
(HealthDay)—Many Americans will be feeling sleepy in the days after Daylight Saving Time starts. But some people with sleep apnea wake up feeling exhausted every morning.

Is your child snoring? It may be a sign of a serious sleep issue

August 31, 2016
Snoring can be a normal symptom of a cold or virus in children. But when snoring persists and children have difficulty sleeping, parents should take their children to a doctor to look for signs of more serious conditions.

Recommended for you

Synthetic cannabinoid reduces sleep apnea

November 29, 2017
A synthetic version of a molecule found in the cannabis plant was safe and effective in treating obstructive sleep apnea in the first large, multi-site study of a drug for the sleep disorder funded by the National Institutes ...

Sleeping through the snoring: Researchers identify neurons that rouse the brain to breathe

November 2, 2017
A common and potentially serious sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea affects at least one quarter of U.S. adults and is linked to increased risk of diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. In a paper published today ...

Remede system approved for sleep apnea

October 9, 2017
(HealthDay)—The Remede sleep system, an implanted device that treats central sleep apnea by activating a nerve that sends signals to the diaphragm to stimulate breathing, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Inflammation may precede sleep apnea, could be treatment target

September 1, 2017
Inflammation is traditionally thought of as a symptom of sleep apnea, but it might actually precede the disorder, potentially opening the door for new ways to treat and predict sleep apnea, according to researchers.

More evidence: Untreated sleep apnea shown to raise metabolic and cardiovascular stress

August 31, 2017
Sleep apnea, left untreated for even a few days, can increase blood sugar and fat levels, stress hormones and blood pressure, according to a new study of sleeping subjects. A report of the study's findings, published in the ...

Sleep patterns contribute to racial differences in disease risk

August 18, 2017
Poor sleep patterns could explain, in part, the differences in the risk of cardiometabolic disease between African-Americans and European-Americans, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.