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What can you do if your snoring is mild?
A mild snorer might make noise at night, but still get plenty of air, with the snoring only occasionally interrupting sleep. Whether or not your occasional wood sawing is tied to wider problems, there are steps you can take to lower the night noise.
Sleep on your side. About half of snorers with sleep apnea in one Israeli study were found to stop when they changed positions. There are pillows available to help you sleep on your side and shirts that make it uncomfortable to roll on your back. For the D.I.Y.-types, you can try sewing some tennis balls onto the back of your night shirt.
Strengthen your tongue. One of the most common causes of snoring is when your tongue slides back in your throat. The simplest way to prevent this is with a daily set of tongue exercises. But Dr. Chang said it can take weeks to have an effect and most people are not diligent in keeping them up.
There are also a steady stream of anti-snoring devices available to buy online, most totally worthless. Chin straps, nose clips and strips, nostril dilators — be wary of them, Dr. Chang said, they don’t work for everyone. A humidifier might help you sleep better by moisturizing your nose and throat, she added, but it probably can’t stop your snoring.
What if your snoring is moderate?
If your sleep study suggests your snoring is moderate — that the lack of air is interrupting your sleep more than 15 times per hour — you should see a sleep doctor, pulmonologist or ear, nose and throat specialist. They might recommend the following:
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This is a device that attaches to either your nose or your nose and mouth to increase the amount of air getting past your throat.
Mouth guard. A mouth guard helps to position the jaw a little bit forward so that the tongue cannot creep down the throat and block it. It’s more convenient than a tube strapped to your face, but it requires a skilled dentist and multiple visits to tailor it to your teeth and jaw. Be sure that your insurance will cover it, and avoid cheaper, over-the-counter guards, because they won’t work unless they are calibrated correctly.
Weight loss. Another way for some people to decrease snoring is to lose weight. Body mass index is reliably connected to snoring and sleep apnea, Dr. Chang said, though every throat is different. Losing weight will decrease the pressure on your windpipe and allow more air to pass.