Most people complain that they only snore when they lie on their back.
So, how does a sleeping position affect your snoring? And could trying different sleeping positions for snoring help you sleep better?
Let’s find out!
What This Article Is All About?
- 1 Causes of Snoring
- 2 How Do Different Sleeping Positions Affect Snoring?
- 3 How to Change Sleeping Positions for Snoring?
- 4 Why Does Sleeping on Your Back Make Snoring Worse?
- 5 Takeaway
Research says that individuals who sleep on their back are more likely to snore or experience sleep apnea.
It happens because sleeping flat on your back causes your throat to relax and allows the tissues at the back of your throat to block the airway.
Pro tip: Sleeping on your side is the best-recommended sleeping position for snoring.
Sleeping on your side reduces the compression in your airways and makes breathing easier.
Before we go ahead and learn more about positional therapy, let’s first learn about the reasons why so many people around us snore.
Causes of Snoring
Here are a few reasons why 17% of women and 24% of men in Australia suffer from loud and frequent snoring.
As you cross middle age, your throat grows narrower, and the muscle tone decreases. While you can’t combat growing old, you can make certain life changes to ease up on snores.
Changes in the bedtime routine, throat exercises, and sleeping positions may help you with snoring.
Being obese or out of shape can also contribute to your snoring problems.
The fatty tissue and poor muscle tone worsen snoring.
Even if you have a healthy BMI, you must sneak in a few exercises a few times a week to stay fit around your neck and throat.
Sometimes, you only have to shed a few pounds and do some cardio to end your snoring.
The reason why more men than women have a snoring problem is that they have narrower air passages.
Then again, snoring could also be a hereditary health issue. A narrow throat, swollen adenoids, and a cleft palate are a few physicalities that are hereditary and may lead to snoring.
These are the factors that are beyond your control, but you can always improve the situation by performing throat exercises and adapting to healthy lifestyle habits.
#4 Sinus Problems
A blocked airway or stuffy nose, whether due to allergies or viral infections, may make inhalation difficult.
This can create a vacuum in your throat and cause snoring.
#5 Alcohol, Drugs, & Smoking
Lifestyle habits like drinking alcohol late into the night, taking certain medicinal drugs like lorazepam (Ativan) or diazepam (Valium), and smoking can lead to snoring.
#6 Sleeping Position
Sleeping flat on your back can cause the tongue to retreat to the back of the throat and obstruct the airway.
The loosening tissue at the back of the throat blocks the airway and causes a vibration that leads to snoring.
Fun Fact: Did you know that for a little more than $1 billion, the Australian government could provide CPAP treatment to everyone who needs it and generate a net gain of $880 million a year on savings, productivity costs, and other financial impacts.
How Do Different Sleeping Positions Affect Snoring?
Snoring happens when the upper airway (the throat and nasal passage) vibrate from troubled breathing during sleep. This casts an impact on the soft palate and the uvula (the fleshy hanging extension at the opening of the throat).
Snoring is pretty annoying on its own, but add nasal congestion due to cold or allergies, and it gets a whole lot worse.
Breathing through the mouth during the night allows your tongue to fall back into your throat. If you regularly drink alcohol before going to sleep, it will only make your snoring worse.
Fact: Alcohol is a muscle relaxant. It will allow the muscle tissue lining your throat to relax and obstruct the airway.
Do you sleep on your back?
If yes, then you know you are more predisposed to snoring.
Not only sleeping on your back will cause snoring, but it could cause a complete collapse of your airway, which we refer to as sleep apnea.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include patchy, fragmented breathing, choking, wheezing, and drowsiness during the daytime. And this medical condition could lead to fatal consequences.
According to research, patients of sleep apnea have a 4 to 9 times higher chance of getting involved in a road accident.
Did you know that the financial burden of Obstructive sleep apnea is up to $2-8 million each year? This includes lost productivity, healthcare costs, road accidents, etc.
That’s a massive docket for a medical condition as overlooked as the OSA!
It is crucial we realize that snoring caused by sleep apnea is a potentially destructive illness and requires treatment. Some people may even have sleep apnea without snoring.
The best sleeping positions for snoring are sleeping on your side or your stomach. Since sleeping on your stomach is harmful to your back, we recommend sleeping on your side.
A study of 21 individuals who snored but did not have sleep apnea proved that sleeping on your side is effective in reducing the time spent snoring and the intensity of it.
How to Change Sleeping Positions for Snoring?
In a lot of cases, especially when snoring is not the result of an underlying health condition, positional therapy has proven effective.
A lot of experts suggest that you sleep on your side. However, when you’re asleep, this may seem like useless advice. It is impossible to be aware of your sleeping positions when you’re in a deep sleep.
So, for those individuals who want to try different sleeping positions for sleeping, here are a few devices that may help you give positional therapy a try:
- Postural Alarms
- Vibrating Neckbands
- Special Positioning Pillows
- Bumper Belts
- Modified Nightshirts
Pro tip: Try to cut down on smoking. It makes a bad case of snoring far worse and more challenging to treat.
Your sleeping position is a built-in habit that may be difficult to change.
However, there are certain techniques that may help you shake your sleeping posture to practice sleeping positions for snoring.
You can try a combination of homemade hacks, specifically designed pillows, and vibrating training devices to manage your sleeping position during sleep.
Let’s explore your options:
#1 Home Remedies
Before you go ahead to buy something to help with your snoring issues, let’s try a few home engineered hacks:
Tennis Ball Therapy
Wear a snug-fitting tee-shirt with a pocket over your spine. Then place a tennis ball in the pocket of the tee-shirt. You can even use a backpack or a fanny pack to accomplish this.
This way, whenever you would roll on to your back, you’d feel the ball dig into your back. The discomfort would alert you to roll back on to your side.
The discomfort probably wouldn’t wake you, and you would subconsciously register the ball digging into your back and naturally turn to your side.
If you are obese, you may need a ball that’s a bit tougher to withstand the weight pushing down on it.
If your back just squishes the ball, then there’s no point to the whole thing. You need to feel enough discomfort to prompt you back to sleeping on your side.
Bed Head Elevation
Head elevation of the bed is another effective way to reduce snoring.
You can raise the head of the bed at night, given you have an adjustable bed, and significantly reduce your snoring problems.
If you do not have an adjustable bed, you could go for a wedge pillow or various other methods to keep your head elevated during the night.
Your head should be at least 20 to 30 degrees higher than the rest of your body.
To carry out this hack, you need an inflated camping pillow.
Stuff the pillow into an empty pillowcase. Lie on the empty section of the pillowcase, and your back rests on the inflated part of the pillow.
The pillow will keep you propped up and prevent you from rolling on to your side.
#2 Specifically Designed Pillows
Some pillows have a special design to keep you locked into the most favorable sleeping positions for snoring.
Let’s take a look:
Wedge pillows are perfect for those who simply can’t get into the habit of sleeping on their side.
A wedge pillow is firm and keeps your head raised to reduce snoring.
Neck Realignment Pillow
If your neck and back feel uncomfortable and awkward when you sleep on your side, a neck realignment pillow could do wonders for you.
These pillows have an adjustable height and align your airway to decrease snoring problems.
#3 Vibrating Training Devices
You can attach these devices to your body.
Whenever you turn to sleep on your back during the night, the device will vibrate, giving you a nudge to get back into the side sleeping position.
The vibrations are not painful. They are subtle but effective enough that your subconscious responds to the vibration and makes you roll back onto your side.
We don’t think it gets more effective than this.
Even studies prove that this method is more effective for cases of mild OSA than a mouthpiece.
Let’s have a look at a few pros of using vibrating training devices as opposed to mouthpieces:
You can simply stick the device to your forehead or breastbone, and it will do the rest of the job.
It is pretty easy to get used to the device, and soon enough, you will even forget that it is there.
Ease of Use
The device is simple and easy to use.
Press the button to turn it on, and after about 20 minutes, you’ll begin feeling the vibrations.
The device is usually lightweight and discrete, so it wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
Most positional trainers are reasonably priced.
However, most do require a prescription.
Pro tip: Sleep deprivation is another major cause of snoring. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night for a healthy snore-free life.
Why Does Sleeping on Your Back Make Snoring Worse?
If you’re a mouth breather who sleeps on their back, then your mouth will fall open during the night. This will alter the shape of the air passage.
According to the effect of gravity, the head and neck begin to compress your airways.
To add to that, if you are obese, the fat on your neck will only make your airway more constricted.
According to MRI, radiography, and infra-red analysis reports of the upper airway, studies show this is what happens to your throat when you sleep on your back:
- You jaw recedes, and your head and neck compress the airway.
- The tongue falls back and blocks the opening of the throat.
- The airway constricts and takes an oval shape.
All of these factors considered you experience an obstructed airflow due to the vibrations in your throat, which eventually leads to snoring.
If the situation gets worse, you could face complete blockage of the throat and sleep apnea.
Most sleep-related problems are usually the result of sleeping in awkward positions that disrupt your airflow and cause you to snore.
Moreover, you may be surprised to know that experts refer to more than half of all cases of OSA a position-induced sleep apnea.
The condition – initially induced by unhealthy sleeping positions – could find a treatment by practicing proper sleeping positions for snoring.
In other words, you can reduce the severity of OSA by switching the pozzy you sleep in.
Most people do not believe that they can treat snoring by changing their sleeping position.
Well, you can.
And if nothing else trying different sleeping positions for snoring will at least help reduce your snores.
Trying positional therapy has its benefits. It’s not only comparatively cheaper and more comfortable, but it has other benefits, too.
For instance, sleeping on your side is healthy for the functioning of your heart.
So, if you have snoring problems that keep your partner up all night, we suggest you try changing sleeping positions for snoring.