How to get rid of snoring

how to get rid of snoringAuthentic snoring blasts the silence of the night like an open-throttled Mack truck. It crashes through the hearer’s central nervous system like a chain saw wasting a forest. It appears, in the paranoia of early-morning darkness, as an aggressive act: “The king sleeps! All you lesser mortals, stay awake.”

In the reasoned light of day, sufferers usually feel foolish for having attributed psychological motives to this purely physiological condition. Snoring is the vibration of the tongue and a flaccid soft palate. It is usually caused by a relaxation of muscles in the throat. Relaxation is not an aggressive act. The snorer is not snoring at you.

Estimates are that 15 percent of the total population snores, and perhaps 50 percent of the elderly. Winston Churchill was an eminently successful snorer, according to Marcus H. Boulware, director of the Speech and Hearing Program at Florida A&M University, who has written a book entitled Snoring. And so were at least 20 Presidents of the United States. As many women snore as men, according to Boulware. Old age, allergies, swollen tonsils, nasal deformities, poorly fitted dentures and excessive smoking, drinking or eating aggravate the malady. Not all snorers are overweight, but enough are to suggest some connection.

Snoring may even be a danger signal – if the person who snores all night is also excessively tired during the day. He may be a victim of sleep apnea, explains Dr. Charles P. Pollak, co-director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Unit at Montefiore Hospital in New York City. While sleeping, such a snorer may make a sudden explosive noise – it does not occur with each breath – and actually stoppage, called apnea, can last from a few seconds to over two minutes. It puts a strain on the body and can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Only s small percentage of snorers suffer from sleep apnea – 90 percent of them male. To date, a tracheotomy, a surgical procedure in which a permanent air hole is created in the windpipe, is the only complete cure.

Stifling normal snoring is another matter. Therapists suggest these possible remedies:

Self-hypnosis: According to Boulware, snoring can be cured by autosuggestion, a form of self-hypnosis. The snorer must say to himself, “I will not snore tonight or any night.” He should engage another person to waken him whenever he snores, and before he goes to sleep again the must concentrate on controlling his snoring mechanism, the muscles in the back of the throat. Boulware himself spent “hundreds of hours” practicing what he describes as “threshold sleeping”; that is, remaining on the borderline of sleep and wakefulness. During this time he kept his mouth closed and consequently did not snore. Then, says Boulware, “I turned the task over to the subconscious mind.”

The snore ball: This control is patterned after a quaint Revolutionary War tradition, in which metal balls were sewn into the backs of nightshirts to keep soldiers from sleeping on their backs, the best snoring position. Instead of metal weights, you might prefer tucking a tennis ball into a sock and pinning it to your pajamas. But there’s a drawback: since dedicated snorers will sleep on anything, they soon learn that sacking out on a tennis ball can be bliss.

Earplugs: Of rubber, plastic or beeswax, they deaden the din but aren’t sufficient to block out high-level snoring. According to a Colgate University Study, such snoring can reach 69 decibels, thus comparing favorably with the 70 to 90 decibel level of pneumatic drills used to break up concrete.

Pillows: The snorer places a regular pillow well up under his chin propping his mouth shut. “The pillow can be held in place with one or both arms,” Boulware writes, “and can help enable an individual to sleep for hours without snoring.”

Staggered bedtimes: It sometimes helps if the “snore,” the one who is snored at, is fast asleep before the snorer begins to tune up. More snores complain of not being able to get to sleep than of being wakened during the night.

Surgery: This is a drastic step, to be taken only in cases of structural difficulties in the respiratory tract, such as deformities of the nose and throat. Few surgeons will operate unless the deformity is causing problems other than snoring.

Some therapists believe that husband-wife arguments over snoring hide underlying difficulties in the relationship. Others have suggested that snoring may be an expression of a sense of inadequacy or disappointment. However, Norman Dine, who runs a sleep center in East Orange, N.J., maintains that what makes a person snore is happiness. Just as a hungry puppy loves his food, so the snorer loves his sleep. He is, in other words, blissfully at peace with the world.

So there you are. Experts are sending us mixed messages. If you’re sure you have the solution, write a book. It can’t miss. The world is still waiting and snoring.

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