How to stop snoring: advice from a certified doctor

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If you google how to stop snoring, chances are you snore or your partner does. Chronic snoring can reduce the quality of your sleep, which impacts your energy levels and general sense of well-being, not to mention the same for your bed partner (if you have one).

So if snoring is robbing you of the quality you need to feel and function your best, you’re probably looking for the best tips, remedies, and lifestyle changes to help you stop snoring.

To find out what it is, we contacted Raj Dasgupta, MD, FACP, FCCP, FAASM (opens in a new tab), a quadruple-board board-certified physician — in internal medicine, pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine — who practices at Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, California. Here’s what he had to say…

How to stop snoring, according to a doctor

1. Rule out sleep apnea

Above all, Dr. Dasgupta stresses how essential it is to detect whether the main problem is snoring or something more serious. “The most important thing is to make sure it’s not obstructive sleep apnea (OSA),” he says. “About 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, but it is underdiagnosed, especially in women and after menopause.”

According to Dr. Dasgupta, an easy way to find out if you have sleep apnea is to take the STOP BANG Questionnaire (opens in a new tab). This is an assessment tool that can help diagnose OSAS. As Dr. Dasgupta explains, the acronym stands for “snoring, youirritability, ohapnea observed, blood ppressure, body mass index, aage, notneck circumference and gend.

Woman wears cpap machine while sleeping on her side to stop snoring

(Image credit: Getty)

If you discover that you have sleep apnea, you will need to work with your doctor and follow a treatment plan that goes beyond adopting advice to help you stop snoring. This often includes the use of a CPAP machine. The good news, however, is that “every time you treat OSA, you treat snoring”.

2. Try positional therapy for snoring

“Position therapy works for both snoring and sleep apnea, per se,” says Dr. Dasgupta. “There are many ways to go about it, and there are many recommendations based on comfort and budget.”

While people tend to have a favorite sleeping position, there’s one that snorers should avoid: sleeping on their backs.

As the doctor and sleep expert explains, “Due to gravity, the tongue will block the airway,” which contributes to a greater likelihood of snoring. For this reason, he advises that one of the best sleeping positions for snoring is to sleep on your side.

3. Consider products that encourage side sleeping

It’s one thing to say that sleeping on your side can help reduce snoring, but it’s another to put it into practice if staying in that position doesn’t come naturally to you.

Some people try tricks like “sew tennis balls onto the back of the shirt to avoid sleeping on your back,” shares Dr. Dasgupta. We also recommend investing in the best mattress for your body and health needs, and specifically for snoring, a mattress dedicated to side sleepers.

Still, if a new bed or DIY trick doesn’t sound appealing or realistic for your needs, you might want to purchase side sleep aids to reduce snoring. Some of these products include:

A man with long black hair sleeps on his side in bed to reduce his risk of snoring

(Image credit: Getty)
  • night scale (opens in a new tab)“a chest-worn device that detects when you snore and encourages you to roll onto your side” via gentle vibrations, says Dr. Dasgupta.
  • Zzoma (opens in a new tab)a positioning belt worn around the torso that prevents you from moving around while sleeping on your side.
  • night patrol (opens in a new tab)“a necklace worn around the neck that vibrates” when you sleep on your back and stops when you change position.

Note: Although Dr. Dasgupta does not personally endorse the brands mentioned in this article, he does say that people can find relief from them.

4. Raise the head of your bed

In addition to sleeping on your side, Dr. Dasgupta says raising the head of the bed will “get you on the right track” to stopping snoring. “There are also people with OSA who, despite wearing a CPAP [find greater relief from snoring] using pillows in tandem with the CPAP mask,” he continues. But is there an ideal pillow to reduce snoring?

“When choosing a pillow, there are many types available, including whether it’s an adjustable or wedge pillow, and what’s in it,” he explains. (Check out our guide to the best pillows for recommendations.)

However, you can just as easily try stacking the pillows you already have before buying new ones with all the bells and whistles. “There is no data showing that stacked pillows are less effective than wedge pillows,” he points out.

5. Open your nasal passages

After positional therapy, making sure your nasal passages are open and clear can also help reduce snoring. “When we talk about snoring, there are articles available that focus on the nostrils,” shares Dr. Dasgupta.

“Over the counter Breathe Right Strips (opens in a new tab) can be worth a shot, and nasal dilators can also help with airflow.

If you suffer from allergies, rhinitis or asthma, have them checked by your doctor. “The bedroom can be a source of allergies, and asthma tends to get worse at night,” says Dr. Dasgupta.

Woman with short blond hair blows her nose in bed because she has allergies that make her nighttime snoring worse

(Image credit: Getty)

In addition to taking medication as advised by your doctor, you may also find relief by changing your sheets more often to prevent dust mites from impeding airflow and causing irritation.

“If you have a dry room, it will be difficult to get good airflow through your nose,” adds Dr. Dasgupta, so using a dehumidifier can help with that too.

Snoring remedies that don’t work

With so many options available that can help you stop snoring, you might be curious about which so-called snoring remedies don’t work. On this point, Dr. Dasgupta emphasizes more on what you should not do if you commit to quitting snoring for good.

“As redundant as it may sound, you absolutely have to make sure that it’s not the OSA that’s contributing to snoring,” he reminds us. From there, when it comes to products, hacks, and other methods in your anti-snoring toolkit, he says the best options are ultimately the ones that “are safe, comfortable, and the ones you’ll actually use.”

Yet, even if you follow all the advice and purchase all the products mentioned above, you may not find the snoring relief you are looking for unless you make a few important lifestyle changes first, which, according to the sleep expert, shouldn’t cost much. (if nothing at all).

“If you are a smoker, quit smoking,” he begins. “Don’t drink alcohol before bed and stay active by exercising regularly.”

Finally, weight is another factor that can impact snoring, leading Dr. Dasgupta to advise “watching what and when you eat” to encourage less snoring as well as better health across the board.

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