Simple Behavior Changes Can Help Turn Down the Volume on Snoring, From the August 2015 Harvard Men's Health Watch

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Snoring is common. It is caused by extra tissue in the nose or throat that restricts breathing during sleep, or by nasal blockages or congestion.

The louder the snoring, the more likely it is to be related to sleep apnea.

Routinely waking up to a bleary-eyed and resentful sleep partner could be a sign of snoring. Snoring happens when the upper airways narrow, triggering turbulent airflow and a trumpetlike racket. "Snoring is a sign that there is a really narrowed space," says Dr. Sanjay Patel, a sleep disorder specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The key to dousing the din is identifying underlying causes of the narrowing and making changes to counteract them, Dr. Patel explains in the August 2015 Harvard Men's Health Watch. Simple lifestyle changes include:

  • not drinking alcohol at night
  • changing sleep position
  • avoiding snore-inducing medications
  • addressing causes of nasal congestion

Watch out for product pitches. Many products claim to help with snoring, but few of them are backed by solid research. One worth trying: bandage-like strips placed on the nose. These flatten the nose slightly to open up the nasal passages. Breathe Right is one well-known brand, but there are many others available at relatively low cost.

Men also should rule out obstructive sleep apnea, an underlying sleep disturbance that causes snoring. "The louder the snoring, the more likely it is to be related to sleep apnea," Dr. Patel says. "Not all men who snore have sleep apnea, but if the snoring is frequent, loud, or bothersome, a man should at least be evaluated." A key difference between obstructive sleep apnea and garden-variety snoring is that individuals with obstructive sleep apnea briefly stop breathing and then gasp for breath many times during the night.

Read the full-length article: "Snoring solutions"

Also in the August 2015 Harvard Men's Health Watch:

  • Does stretching before exercise prevent injuries?
  • Why you should take "brain health" diets with a grain of salt
  • Key steps to soothing heel pain
  • How to sneak more healthy fiber onto your plate

The Harvard Men's Health Watch is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $20 per year. Subscribe at http://www.health.harvard.edu/mens or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

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Media: Contact Kristen Rapoza at hhpmedia(at)hms.harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

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