Tips to silence snoring

CLEVELAND CLINIC - Do you lay in bed listening to your partner snore all night long? Well, you're not alone.

According to the National Sleep Foundation snoring affects about 90 million adults.

"I think it's important to realize that snoring can be more than just an annoying noise," said Dr. Alan Kominsky of Cleveland Clinic. "It can be associated with obstructive sleep apnea which is a serious issue that may need to be addressed."

Dr. Kominsky said if snoring is interrupted by pauses in breathing or a struggle to breathe it may be a sign of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea should be addressed by a doctor because not treating it can be associated with an increased risk for stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Generally, snoring is caused when the back of the roof of the mouth, called the soft palate, flutters and hits the back of the throat.

Snoring that can be heard through walls and throughout the house, is called "heroic" snoring.

Dr. Kominsky said this type of snoring can be disruptive to married life and is often what drives people into his office.

Being overweight, having nasal congestion, breathing through the mouth while sleeping, and using anything sedating before bed - like alcohol or medications - can increase the chances of snoring.

Men are also more prone to snoring than women, according to Dr. Kominsky.

To reduce the risk of snoring, Dr. Kominsky has the following tips:

- Avoid alcohol and sedating medications before bedtime
- Treat allergies; take allergy medication or use a nasal steroid spray to improve nasal airflow
- Sleep on your side

If all else fails, doctors can prescribe special dental devices to help separate the tissues in the back of the throat. Or, there are also different methods available to stiffen the soft palate, which can also help reduce snoring.