The dreaded snore is a complicated noise, having a side to it that can invoke both humor and extreme annoyance.
Snoring can be held responsible for ending relationships and for rather serious health complications that put all laughing aside. Yet, some research has shown that simple changes in your body’s position during sleep may have a huge impact on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
What causes snoring?
Before getting into the various details about positional therapy to treat snoring, it is important to first understand what causes the dreaded snore in the first place.
Once asleep, certain muscles in your throat tend to relax. These usually include a combination of your tonsils, tongue, soft palate, and the inner walls of your throat. Once relaxed, these muscles can cause your airway to narrow or close entirely as you inhale. It is this partial closure and narrowing of the airways that creates the snoring sound and can turn even the most peaceful sleeping beauties into sleeping pariahs.
Can simple positional therapy help?
Many snorers also happen to be face-up sleepers. Sleeping on the back seems to add to the relaxation of the throat muscles, and the simple fix seems to be just to sleep on one’s side, and while this sounds easily done, it isn’t easily implemented.
To tell someone to go from sleeping on their backs to their sides is like telling someone to do a full leg split when having never done one before. Our bodies just aren’t accustomed to it, and so we can’t comfortably position ourselves in this way.
Behavioral sleep patterns have been learned over a lifetime and to undo them may require ‘positional therapy’ to help aid in reconditioning the body to a new pattern of sleeping behavior.
Positional therapy has been shown to decrease snoring mildly to moderately and is a proven way to decrease snoring volumes.
What types of positional therapy are there?
There are several ways in which this training and reconditioning of the body can take place. Some changes are small and inexpensive while others are more complicated and costly. Positional therapy devices fall into the category of anti snoring devices.
- Using a tennis ball in a way that keeps the ball positioned on your back can prevent you from wanting to turn over onto your back in the middle of the night.
- Special pillows can help assist you into a comfortable side-sleeping state and disincentivize you from wanting to turn onto your back.
- There are computer trainers that will speak to you like a nagging coach in the middle of the night, reminding you to go back onto your side if you happen to stray onto your back.
- Bumper belts are another trick to keep you on your side. By strapping the belt to your waist, its large size creates a restriction in movement that keeps you on your side no matter what. Just be aware, your spouse may be limited in their ability to cuddle with you as well.
Health complications from snoring
Some people might be completely content with the fact they snore and aren’t worried about it. For these individuals, just remember that snoring, especially over the long term, can turn into serious health complications that go beyond just fatigue and include high blood pressure and blood sugar issues that can lead to diabetes.
While snoring may not seem this serious, when there are simple lifestyle changes one can make and many available resources for positional therapies, there is no reason not to challenge yourself to the possibility of having a good night sleep and maybe even a partner who will be doubly grateful as well.