Expert Advice

Why do I snore?

There are many ways to silence your nocturnal noisemaking. Here are a few of the best.

Why do I snore?
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Snoring is typically caused by an excess of tissue at the back of the throat, which blocks the upper airway. People who are overweight have more tissue in their necks, so for many, the best solution for snoring is to lose weight. If you're not heavy, see a physician to find out if a surgical treatment is right for you and to check for a more significant problem like a tumor. It's important to make sure the problem isn't sleep apnea, which involves loud snoring interrupted by periods of obstructed breathing. Sleep apnea can lead to pulmonary hypertension and heart disease; it also causes excessive daytime sleepiness.
--Michael Seidman, M.D., medical director for Integrative Medicine at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit

Snoring is sometimes the result of inflamed or swollen sinus passages, usually because of allergies or an upper respiratory infection like a cold or chronic sinusitis. In the natural world we have some phenomenal remedies that act as antihistamines but don't cause any adverse effects. Nettle-leaf tea contains bioflavonoids that open up the sinuses and stabilize the white blood cells that make histamine--I'd recommend a cup of the tea one to three times a day. (The only problem with nettle leaf is that it's a diuretic, so you might have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.) Bioflavonoids are also found in the supplements hespiridin and quercetin--take two capsules, 250 to 500 milligrams each, three times a day while you're experiencing allergy or cold symptoms. Using either supplement over a long period can interfere with the immune system.
Drinking can also lead to snoring in some cases, so avoid alcohol. According to a simplified Western interpretation of Traditional Chinese Medicine, alcohol challenges spleen qi and causes mucus to collect and close down the sinuses.
--Keith F. Zeitlin, N.D., Wallingford, Conn.-based naturopathic physician

Sleeping on your side or stomach can help stop snoring. You might flip over in the middle of the night without realizing it, so one way to stay off your back is to sew three tennis balls into the back and across the shoulders of a pajama top. In general, snoring sprays and nose strips are only anecdotally effective. In fact, use of the sprays even poses a risk of oil-induced pneumonia. But Breathe Right strips do work for some--it's a cheap, noninvasive method to test out.
In some people, snoring results from a mispositioning of the jaw that blocks the airway. If you're one of them, your dentist can make you a mouthpiece that advances your jaw forward into a different position while you sleep.
--Sarah Nath Zallek, M.D., medical director of the OSF Saint Francis Sleep Disorders Center in Peoria, Ill.