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I’m a huge proponent of getting great sleep, but when snoring is an issue, it’s likely that no one is getting very good sleep! Snoring is a common issue in adults (and can happen to kids too!), so it’s something worth investigating if you or your child are not sleeping well. Or if you just don’t feel rested in the morning.
What Causes Snoring
Adults and children snore for some of the same reasons, but not always. Here are some of the most common causes of snoring:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
With sleep apnea, the upper airway collapses, resulting in a pause in breathing. This causes the person to wake up to resume breathing. For many people who suffer from OSA, waking throughout the night is frequent, even if they aren’t aware of it. Snoring results from the person trying to breathe through a constricted airway. This is common in adults.
Another common cause of OSA and snoring is obesity and being overweight. A 2010 study in the journal Chest found weight loss had a significant effect on OSA symptoms including snoring. This is true for children as well as adults.
The tonsils and adenoids are found near the back of the throat. They can get swollen or enlarged due to illness or other issues. When they are enlarged, the tonsils and adenoids can cause obstructed breathing. This is a common cause of snoring in children.
Some structural problems, like a deviated septum, can cause snoring. Check with a trusted doctor to see if this is a concern for you or your child.
Shortened Duration of Breastfeeding
A 2012 study found a correlation between breastfeeding duration and the likelihood of snoring in children. Breastfeeding plays a crucial role in forming the upper palette, so this is likely the reason for this connection.
Congestion and Allergies
Swelling or congestion in the nasal passages due to allergies, colds, or other blockages can sometimes lead to snoring. This kind of snoring is not usually a concern since it’s temporary but can still be annoying for the snorer (and family members who sleep nearby!). Often this can be helped by changing sleeping positions or using remedies to help with soft tissue swelling and inflammation.
Is Snoring a Big Deal?
Minor occasional snoring isn’t usually a cause for concern. This can happen because of a stuffy nose, sinus infection, or other temporary issues. But when snoring becomes a frequent occurrence, especially in children, it’s cause for concern. Snoring and OSA can cause many health issues including:
A 2008 article explains how patients with severe sleep apnea also had an increased risk of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke.
Blood Pressure Issues
The above article also notes that the interruptions in breathing sleep apnea patients suffer from also trigger the sympathetic nervous system to raise blood pressure. This can lead to later blood pressure issues.
Due to increases in blood pressure, heart arrhythmias can manifest. The above article does note that more research is needed to understand the role of sleep apnea in heart disease, but experts consider current findings to be enough of a concern to recommend addressing sleep apnea and snoring as soon as possible.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Diagnosis
While snoring does not directly cause ADHD, if a child does not get adequate rest due to interruptions caused by snoring, they may have trouble focusing the next day. For this reason, it’s important to take snoring and sleep breathing issues seriously.
Natural Home Remedies for Snoring
If you or your child are having sleep breathing issues, it’s important to go to your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis for a sleep disorder. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you and your doctor can come up with a plan for improving breathing and sleep. Typically, a CPAP machine is considered as a remedy, but there are other options as well. Here are some of the options you can consider to stop snoring:
Our family is using Vivos to optimize our kids’ palates while they sleep. This device helps to expand the palate naturally and keep the air passages open. We’ve noticed better sleep and less mouth breathing. Vivos also works for adults and helped my husband with his snoring (great for him and me!).
As Dr. Steven Lin explains in this podcast episode, the food we eat plays a big part in how the mouth is formed. Fat-soluble vitamins and healthy fats are crucial for dental health
The fat-soluble vitamins to focus on are:
- vitamin A
- vitamin D
- vitamin K2
These fat-soluble vitamins are rare in nature though. They only come from a small group of foods, which is why many traditional cultures would treasure these foods. My family makes it a priority to consume plenty of fat-soluble vitamins as well as lots of healthy fat. We eat plenty of fermented foods, pastured organ meats, pastured butter, coconut oil, avocados, and fish to get those vitamins and healthy fats.
While diet is a huge factor in health, there are other lifestyle factors that can help reduce snoring. Here are some suggestions:
- Quit smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption before bedtime
- Don’t take sedatives before bedtime
- Get enough sleep
There are also a few tricks for reducing snoring that you can try like changing your sleep position (sleeping on your side instead of on your back), raising the head of your bed (or using an extra pillow), and using nasal strips at bedtime.
A humidifier can help moisten the air in the bedroom at night but can be used throughout the house during the day. Moist air soothes and relaxes the bronchial tubes and nasal passages making breathing easier.
There are a number of exercises you can perform to strengthen and tone the tongue, throat, and mouth so airflow is unimpeded. Here are a few from Sleep Solutions NW:
This exercise stretches the tongue, jaw, and throat muscles.
- Open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out.
- Stretch to touch your chin with the tip of your tongue.
- When your tongue is as close to touching your chin as possible, hold it there for 5 seconds.
- Next stretch your tongue to try and touch your nose. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times daily.
This exercise helps stretch the mouth and throat muscles. It also exercises the soft palate.
- Start by standing in front of a mirror.
- Pronounce each vowel (A, E, I, O, U) but be sure to exaggerate the movement of the mouth with each one.
- Make sure you are forming each vowel sound by stretching the mouth.
- Repeat each vowel 5 times.
This exercise helps strengthen the muscles in the back of the throat.
- Stand in front of a mirror.
- Open your mouth and say “ahh” making sure your tongue is out as far as it can and that it’s down against the bottom of the mouth.
- Also, make sure that the uvula (the small fleshy piece in the back of your throat) is lifted up as you stick your tongue out.
- Hold the lifted uvula for 5 seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
This exercise works the muscles at the back of the throat.
- Stick your tongue out and gently bite down to hold the tongue in position.
- Swallow 5 times in a row.
- Repeat the exercise 5 times.
- Repeat the entire sequence 4 times a day.
Snoring Keeping You Up? Try These Snoring Remedies
Whether it’s your own snoring or that of your partner or kids (they always end up in mom’s bed anyway!), snoring can make for sleep deprivation. Luckily there are some simple natural remedies that can help. Create a plan with your doctor and enjoy more restful sleep for the whole family!
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Shani Muhammad, MD, board-certified in family medicine, and has been practicing for over ten years. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
How do you cope with snoring? Have you tried any of these snoring remedies?
- Romero-Corral, A., Caples, S. M., Lopez-Jimenez, F., & Somers, V. K. (2010). Interactions Between Obesity and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Chest, 137(3), 711–719.
- Persistent snoring in preschool children: predictors and behavioral and developmental correlates. (2012). Pediatrics, 1.
- Jean-Louis, G., Zizi, F., Clark, L. T., Brown, C. D., & McFarlane, S. I. (2008). Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease: Role of the Metabolic Syndrome and Its Components. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 04(03), 261–272.