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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 December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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