Most people snore from time to time, though for some it’s more than just an occasional issue. While snoring may seem like a minor nuisance (though your spouse might say otherwise), it could be a sign of a bigger underlying issue. People who snore regularly often suffer from daytime fatigue, irritability, and other issues caused or exacerbated by poor sleep quality.
Your doctor is the best person to talk to about your snoring, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn more about it on your own. In this guide, we’ll explore the most common cause of snoring and discuss the ways buying a new mattress could help. You’ll also learn what to look for in a mattress for snoring.
What Causes Snoring?
You’re undoubtedly familiar with the sound of snoring, but what is it, exactly? Snoring happens when the tissues in your throat vibrate as you breathe in and out during sleep. People who snore frequently typically have anatomical features that make their tissues more prone to these vibrations – things like excess tissue in the nose or throat. Snoring can also be caused by the tongue relaxing into the throat.
Different people snore for different reasons. Once you identify the trigger for your snoring, you can talk to your doctor about potential solutions.
Here are some of the most common causes of snoring:
- Age – As you get older, you lose muscle tone in your throat and the throat may become narrower. Both of these conditions may make you more prone to snoring.
- Obesity – People who are overweight or obese tend to have more fatty tissue in the throat along with poor muscle tone. Even carrying excess weight around your neck can be an issue.
- Anatomy – Men typically have narrower air passages than women which makes them more prone to snoring. A narrow throat, enlarged adenoids, a cleft palate, or other physical features can be inherited and may contribute to your risk for snoring.
- Infections – When your nasal passages are blocked by congestion, it becomes more difficult to inhale through your nose and may create a vacuum in your throat that causes snoring.
- Alcohol – Consuming alcohol too close to bedtime can cause the muscles in your throat to relax, making you more prone to snoring.
- Smoking – The chemicals in cigarettes can irritate the tissues in your airway and cause inflammation that may narrow the throat, increasing your risk for snoring.
- Medication – Taking certain sedatives and tranquilizers like lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium) may cause your muscles to relax in sleep which can lead to snoring.
- Posture – The position in which you sleep can make you more prone to snoring. People who sleep on their back are the most likely to snore.
In addition to these common causes of snoring, there’s another option to consider: sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which your experience interruptions in breathing throughout the night. If you snore loudly and heavily or stop breathing at intervals during sleep, it could be sleep apnea. Daytime sleepiness and falling asleep at inappropriate times are also symptoms.
What to Look for in a Mattress for Snoring
If you or your partner snores frequently, talk to your doctor to rule out a serious sleep disorder like sleep apnea. Addressing other risk factors such as smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and the use of medication may help as well. If you can’t pinpoint the cause of your snoring as one of these factors, it may help to upgrade your mattress. Sleeping on an old, unsupportive mattress may cause the neck and spine to fall out of alignment which can contribute to snoring and other issues.
Buying a new mattress isn’t a guaranteed solution for snoring, but it could help. At the very least, a new mattress should be supportive enough to support good posture during sleep.
Here are some things to consider when shopping for a mattress to reduce snoring:
- Sleeping on your side rather than your back should help reduce snoring, so look for a medium-firm mattress that supports proper spine alignment and relieves pressure for side sleepers.
- Consider your body weight when shopping for a mattress. The heavier you are, the firmer and more supportive your mattress should be.
- Look for high-quality materials like organic latex that don’t contain harsh chemicals that may off-gas as you sleep – materials that don’t accumulate allergens may be beneficial as well.
- Avoid choosing a mattress that is too soft – though it may feel comfortable, it may not provide the support you need to keep your spine in proper alignment.
- Consider temperature-regulating materials like gel- or copper-infused memory foam if you tend to run hot at night – cooler sleeping conditions could help reduce snoring.
The actual type of mattress you choose is largely a matter of preference, though you should look for a model that provides a strong combination of support and pressure relief. Hybrid mattresses that combine a supportive coil base with softer comfort layers are a great option for snorers.
Additional Tips to Reduce Snoring
Again, buying a new mattress isn’t a guaranteed solution for your snoring, though it could help. It’s also important to make sure you’re using the right pillow. Your pillow should be firm enough and full enough to keep your head elevated to the right degree to ensure proper spine alignment. If you’re a side sleeper, you may need a higher pillow than you would as a back sleeper.
Here are some additional tips to help reduce snoring:
- Consider using pillows or elevating the head of your bed by a few inches. Lying flat on your back allows the muscles in your throat to relax which can contribute to snoring.
- Think about investing in an adjustable bed so you can elevate your head. Some adjustable beds allow you to control the two sides separately so your partner can sleep as they choose.
- Ask your doctor about anti-snoring mouthpieces and mouth guards. These devices help prevent the tongue and the soft tissue in the throat from obstructing the airway during sleep.
- Think about using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine during sleep – this device is most commonly used to treat sleep apnea and can help eliminate snoring.
- If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight – this will take care of extra tissues in the throat that contribute to snoring.
- Limit your intake of alcohol near bedtime and try to avoid using sedatives which depress the central nervous system and cause the muscles to relax.
Though snoring may seem like more of a nuisance than anything else, it can disrupt your quality of sleep. Poor sleep quality comes with its own list of adverse health effects including an increased risk for accidents, impaired cognition, increased risk for heart attack, and weakened immunity. Talk to your doctor about your snoring and consider upgrading your mattress to something more supportive that might give you a better night’s sleep.