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Snoring is a problem that, it would seem, hardly needs an introduction. However, as a definition, snoring is "a harsh and noisy sound made by the nose and mouth during sleep," according to Philip R. Westbrook, M.D., F.C.C.P., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and past president of the American Sleep Disorders Association.

Sleep on Your Side : "Much of the reason for snoring is positional," says Westbrook. "It occurs when the individual is on his back, not on his side. This clearly suggests that one should avoid sleeping on one's back. Rather than use your bed partner's elbows to help you accomplish that, place two tennis balls in a sock and pin the sock to the back of your pajama top. Make it so uncomfortable to sleep on your back that you sleep on your side."

Avoid Alcohol and Tranquilizers : Alcohol and sleeping pills can depress your central nervous system and relax the muscles of your throat and jaw, making snoring more likely, according to Karl Doghramji, M.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. These substances are also known to cause sleep apnea, a dangerous condition that has been linked with cardiovascular disease, he says.

Lose Weight : Excess body weight, especially around the neck, puts pressure on the airway, causing it to partially collapse, Westbrook says. "It becomes like trying to suck air through a wet paper straw. It limits the amount of air that comes in. Turbulence is created, and the soft tissues flap in the breeze, so to speak, creating the noise." He says that it usually takes a significant weight loss, about ten percent of your total body weight, to make an improvement.

Get Your Allergies Treated : Chronic respiratory allergies may cause snoring by forcing sufferers to breathe through their mouths while they sleep, says Doghramji. A decongestant or antihistamine before bedtime may help, he says. Another help for a blocked nose is saline spray, which may be purchased at any drugstore, says German Nino-Murcia, M.D., founder and medical director of the Sleep Medicine and Neuroscience Institute in Palo Alto, California. (You can make your own saline solution by mixing a cup of water at body temperature, a half teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of baking soda. Then put the solution in a clean nasal spray bottle or nasal syringe and squirt it in to your nose.) "An ultrasonic humidifier is also a good idea," he adds.

Buy a Mouth Guard : Your dentist or doctor may be able to prescribe an antisnoring mouth guard, says Doghramji. "The guards fit into the mouth and make sure that the upper and lower teeth are held together," he says. "It prevents the lower jaw from sagging backwards."

Stop Smoking : "Smoking can be very irritating to the lining of the upper airway, including the nose," says Westbrook. "Your snoring may improve if you quit."

Keep a Regular Schedule : "People who are sleep deprived will tend to snore," says Thomas Roth, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Sleep Disorders Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. "If you find that you are sleepy during the day, you may not be getting enough sleep." Sleep deprivation also increases the volume of the snoring, says Nino-Murcia, and may cause sleep apnea, although physicians aren't sure why. "Keeping a regular sleep wake cycle is also helpful," Nino-Murcia says.

See a Doctor if You Are Pregnant And Snoring : Sometimes, women who are pregnant will begin to snore, according to William C. Dement, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the School of Medicine at Stanford University and director of Stanford University's Sleep Disorders Center in California. The snoring may begin because of the increased body weight and because the hormonal changes of pregnancy cause muscles to relax. Whatever the cause, snoring during pregnancy may be a sign of sleep apnea, which can decrease the oxygen supply to the fetus, Dement says. "Snoring during pregnancy is a serious problem that people haven't paid much attention to," he says. "During pregnancy, sleep is already disturbed by the need to urinate and by discomfort, which may mask other problems."

Elevate Your Head : Sleeping with your head raised may take some of the pressure off of the airway, making breathing easier, according to Roth. "Sleep halfway sitting upFree Articles," he says. "Prop yourself up with pillows."

Article Tags: Sleep Disorders, Sleep Apnea, Body Weight, During Pregnancy

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Michael Russell writes for Get information and facts about diseases and ailments with tips about the treatment and prevention of disease

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