How to stop snoring

Ana Noia
Senior Clinical Physiologist in Neurophysiology and Sleep at Cromwell Hospital
23 April 2018

white paperclip icon

This article is more than three years old. It reflects the best available evidence at the time of publication.

Snoring is a common problem, especially in middle age. By the time we reach our 60s around half of us will snore regularly. Usually this doesn’t cause many problems – you may have the occasional disturbed night caused by yourself or your partner, but it won’t affect your daily life.

But sometimes snoring is far from a laughing matter. If it’s severe then it can be serious. Regular lack of sleep causes extreme tiredness, which makes it hard to concentrate. It can be dangerous if you’re driving or if you have a job where you work with machinery. It can make you anxious or depressed and, not least, it can also put a huge strain on relationships, with your partner, friends, family and colleagues.

A Bupa survey in 2017 looked into the sleeping habits of 2,000 UK adults. In a third of people who struggled to sleep, their partner was usually to blame, with nearly 73 per cent of them putting their lack of sleep down to their partner snoring!

Tips to help you (or your partner) stop snoring

1. Sleep in the correct position

  • Avoid sleeping on your back. If you struggle to remain on your side throughout the night, try stitching a tennis ball into the back of your pyjama top.
  • Raise the head of your bed with good quality pillows – one thick or two thin pillows should be about right.

2. Lose weight

Snoring is more common if you’re overweight. Excessive weight, particular around your neck, can narrow your airways making you more likely to snore. Losing a small amount of weight can have a big impact on your snoring and quality of sleep – just the motivation you need to keep on track towards your weight loss goal. The best way to lose weight safely is by eating well and exercising more at the same time.

If you’ve started to get moving but your willpower is waning, find out how to stay motivated with our Staying motivated blog. And for some healthy eating inspiration check out our healthy lunch ideas or sugar swap videos.

3. Cut down on alcohol

Alcohol relaxes the structures in your mouth including your pharynx, palate and tongue, obstructing your airways and making you more likely to snore. Cut down on alcohol to help you stop snoring – and when you do drink, remember to stay well within the recommended drinking limits.

Sleeping medicines have a similar effect to alcohol on snoring, so cut down or avoid these where you can too.

4. Stop smoking

If you smoke, try to stop. Cigarette smoke aggravates the space behind your nose and throat, and causes a buildup of mucus, which together restrict airflow and contribute to snoring. Find out more about the effects of smoking and how you can stop smoking.

5. Get allergies under control

If you have an allergy, for example you’re allergic to dust or have hay fever, you may get a stuffy nose. This can disrupt your sleep and cause you to snore. Try to avoid contact with potential triggers (allergens) and get the right treatment to help prevent snoring.

Other options

If none of these things work, then try snoring strips or a mandibular advancement device.

Snoring strips fix onto the outside of your nose and work by opening your nostrils wider. You can get them from most chemists.

Mandibular advancement devices are like gum shields. You wear them in your mouth at night and they move your jaw forwards, which can reduce snoring. You can buy non-custom devices online, but there’s little evidence to show that they’re effective for snoring. It’s better to have one made by your dentist, or buy an adjustable device that your dentist can amend to fit your mouth correctly.

If none of these work, and snoring is having a big impact on your day-to-day lives, then surgery is an option. An operation can remove anything that’s blocking your airways or reshape them. Talk to your GP for more information.

Are you interested in learning more about your health? Discover more about our range of health assessments.

Ana Noia
Ana Noia
Senior Clinical Physiologist in Neurophysiology and Sleep at Cromwell Hospital

Did you find our advice helpful?

We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our healthy lifestyle articles.