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The Unexpected Way to Improve Everything About Your Sleep Quality

The Unexpected Way to Improve Everything About Your Sleep Quality

By now, most of us know the basics about getting good sleep — go to bed at the same time every night, set the alarm for the same time every morning, avoid screens in the hour leading up to bedtime, and, of course, implement a relaxing pre-bedtime routine.

This is all sound advice, but it won’t do anything for you if you’ve overlooked one of the most powerful factors involved in determining sleep quality: snoring.

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If you’re a snorer, then you’re jeopardizing every aspect of your sleep quality, regardless of if you make it a point to go to bed at 10 o’clock on the dot every night, or not. To counteract that, here’s how you can improve everything about your sleep and eliminate snoring from your life altogether.

The Consequences of Snoring

Snoring is very common. In fact, up to 45 percent of adults snore when they sleep sometimes.[1] Snoring occurs when air can’t move freely through the mouth and nose of a sleeping person, causing the surrounding tissues to vibrate and make that chainsaw-tearing-through-a-log sound. It can be caused by everything from nasal and sinus issues to age, sleeping position, medications, mouth anatomy (e.g. bulky throat tissue or a long soft palate), weak muscles in the throat and tongue, or obstructive sleep apnea (a more serious condition that can cause a person to fully stop breathing at times throughout the night).[2]

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Just because snoring is common doesn’t mean it’s harmless. Snoring on a regular basis can not only decrease your sleep quality, but it can also harm your health. For starters, snoring impacts sleep stages in a negative way.[3] The various stages of sleep include the well-known REM (rapid eye movement) stage, as well as NREM (non-rapid eye movement) stages.

During high-quality sleep, the sleeping body cycles through these stages, each of which provides physiological benefits. Unfortunately, snorers don’t get most of these benefits because their snoring disrupts the natural sleep cycle and prevents their bodies from reaching the most restorative stages of sleep.

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Given all this, it’s no wonder snorers often suffer from daytime sleepiness! But that’s not the only consequence of snoring. The sleep deprivation and low-quality sleep[4] resulting from snoring can cause chronic fatigue, frequent headaches, weight gain, irritability, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias, mental health issues, such as depression, and even shorter lifespans.[5] And if your snoring prevents your partner from getting quality sleep, it can also place a strain on your relationship.

So if you’re suffering from any of these conditions, or you simply want to improve your sleep quality, it’s possible snoring might be the root cause of all your sleeping woes.

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Simple Ways to Stop Snoring

If you’ve determined that snoring is destroying your sleep quality, then you’re not without hope. The following strategies can help you reduce your snoring and significantly improve your sleep:

  • Stop smoking and drinking. Smoking inflames the tissues in your upper airway, which significantly ups the chance that you’ll snore.[6] Alcohol, meanwhile, relaxes your throat muscles, which can also increase your snoring risk. While it’s best to quit smoking entirely, you don’t need to go cold turkey on alcohol—just try to avoid drinking within three hours of your bedtime.
  • Work out. Regular exercise doesn’t just tone your arms and legs—it can also strengthen the muscles in the throat, which can reduce your chances of snoring.[7] Working out can also facilitate weight loss, which has been linked to a reduction in snoring.
  • Get tested. If you suffer from chronic nasal or sinus issues, then you may have allergies you aren’t aware of.[8] Getting tested will allow you to identify irritants in your life and remove them so you’re less likely to experience congestion, which can cause snoring. It might also be helpful to clear your nasal passages before bed using a decongestant, nasal strips, or a Neti pot.
  • Use a humidifier. Some people find their congestion and/or allergies are aggravated by dry air, so using a humidifier in your bedroom at night might provide relief from these conditions—and, by extension, relief from snoring.
  • Prioritize hydration. When we’re dehydrated, everyday secretions from our nose and soft palate become more viscous, which can up the chances of snoring. In contrast, staying hydrated allows fluids to move more easily through the body. This also allows air to flow more easily through the mouth and nose (instead of getting caught in sticky secretions), which can limit snoring.
  • Keep it clean. Dust and dust mites can provoke allergies that, in turn, provoking snoring. Make a point of dusting the surfaces in your bedroom once a week, and clean (or replace) your pillows on a regular basis in order to limit your exposure to potential allergens.
  • Help your partner. If your partner is suffering from poor sleep quality as a result of your snoring, then it will be good for their health (and your relationship) if you do what you can to ease their plight. Consider experimenting with different sleeping positions to see if any of them help, purchasing ear plugs for your partner, or investing in a mattress for couples, which can help increase your partner’s physical comfort and thereby potentially make it easier for them to stay asleep through your snores.[9]
  • Consider oral devices. If the other strategies on this list aren’t providing relief, it might be time to up the ante with an oral device. There’s a tremendous variety of mouthpieces on the market, so expect to experiment with several brands until you find the one that works best for you.

If you’ve tried all the strategies on this list and nothing has helped your snoring, then it’s probably time to consult a physician. Snoring can seriously impact your sleep quality and, by extension, your quality of life—so it’s worth investing the time and energy to figure out how you can quit snoring for good.

Reference

[1] WebMD: 7 Easy Fixes for Snoring
[2] Mayo Clinic: Snoring Causes
[3] Quit Yer Snoring: Stages of Sleep and How they Affect Your Snoring
[4] National Sleep Foundation: Snoring and Sleep
[5] Everyday Health: 11 Health Risks of Snoring
[6] Psychology Today: Snoring May Be a Warning of Serious Health Risk
[7] HelpGuide: How to Stop Snoring
[8] The Sleep School: Top Ten Tips to Stop Snoring
[9] National Sleep Foundation: Partners & Sleep

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Last Updated on June 13, 2019

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

5 Fixes For Common Sleep Issues All Couples Deal With

Sleeping next to your partner can be a satisfying experience and is typically seen as the mark of a stable, healthy home life. However, many more people struggle to share a bed with their partner than typically let on. Sleeping beside someone can decrease your sleep quality which negatively affects your life. Maybe you are light sleepers and you wake each other up throughout the night. Maybe one has a loud snoring habit that’s keeping the other awake. Maybe one is always crawling into bed in the early hours of the morning while the other likes to go to bed at 10 p.m.

You don’t have to feel ashamed of finding it difficult to sleep with your partner and you also don’t have to give up entirely on it. Common problems can be addressed with simple solutions such as an additional pillow. Here are five fixes for common sleep issues that couples deal with.

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1. Use a bigger mattress to sleep through movement

It can be difficult to sleep through your partner’s tossing and turning all night, particularly if they have to get in and out of bed. Waking up multiple times in one night can leave you frustrated and exhausted. The solution may be a switch to a bigger mattress or a mattress that minimizes movement.

Look for a mattress that allows enough space so that your partner can move around without impacting you or consider a mattress made for two sleepers like the Sleep Number bed.[1] This bed allows each person to choose their own firmness level. It also minimizes any disturbances their partner might feel. A foam mattress like the kind featured in advertisements where someone jumps on a bed with an unspilled glass of wine will help minimize the impact of your partner’s movements.[2]

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2. Communicate about scheduling conflicts

If one of you is a night owl and the other an early riser, bedtime can become a source of conflict. It’s hard for a light sleeper to be jostled by their partner coming to bed four hours after them. Talk to your partner about negotiating some compromises. If you’re finding it difficult to agree on a bedtime, negotiate with your partner. Don’t come to bed before or after a certain time, giving the early bird a chance to fully fall asleep before the other comes in. Consider giving the night owl an eye mask to allow them to stay in bed while their partner gets up to start the day.

3. Don’t bring your technology to bed

If one partner likes bringing devices to bed and the other partner doesn’t, there’s very little compromise to be found. Science is pretty unanimous on the fact that screens can cause harm to a healthy sleeper. Both partners should agree on a time to keep technology out of the bedroom or turn screens off. This will prevent both partners from having their sleep interrupted and can help you power down after a long day.

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4. White noise and changing positions can silence snoring

A snoring partner can be one of the most difficult things to sleep through. Snoring tends to be position-specific so many doctors recommend switching positions to stop the snoring. Rather than sleeping on your back doctors recommend turning onto your side. Changing positions can cut down on noise and breathing difficulties for any snorer. Using a white noise fan, or sound machine can also help soften the impact of loud snoring and keep both partners undisturbed.

5. Use two blankets if one’s a blanket hog

If you’ve got a blanket hog in your bed don’t fight it, get another blanket. This solution fixes any issues between two partners and their comforter. There’s no rule that you have to sleep under the same blanket. Separate covers can also cut down on tossing and turning making it a multi-useful adaptation.

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Rather than giving up entirely on sharing a bed with your partner, try one of these techniques to improve your sleeping habits. Sleeping in separate beds can be a normal part of a healthy home life, but compromise can go a long way toward creating harmony in a shared bed.

Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

Reference

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