Lighten Up and Snore Less

by | Mar 31, 2001 | Health & Healing

Q. My husband snores each night. He wakes up refreshed, and I wake up exhausted. How can I get some sleep?
–S.F., Boston, Mass.

A. First educating yourself and your husband about his condition and then treating it is the best way to start. Snoring is one of the most common sleep problems in the United States–approximately 25 percent of men snore and about 12 percent of women. It tends to increase during and after middle age, and there is usually an anatomical reason why some people snore and some don’t.

The physical reasons include obstructed nasal passages; elongation of the uvula (the tissue that hangs down in the back of the throat); poor muscle tone in the soft palate, throat and tongue; and excessive girth of the neck due to obesity. In children snoring can be caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids.

Many devices are designed to treat snoring. They range from dental appliances to neck collars to electrical devices that cause painful stimuli.

But the most effective treatment of all is to lose weight. The typical snorer is overweight, and snoring becomes more frequent because the girth of the neck has increased and the muscle tone of the tongue and throat has declined.

The best advice I can give a chronic snorer is to lose weight and start an exercise program. A person may snore less frequently just by shedding 10-15 pounds.

Because many snorers have nasal congestion, clearing or opening the nasal passages can be helpful. For this, I suggest a nasal decongestant, a nasal steroid spray or an adhesive strip placed on the outside of the nose to open the nostrils.

Avoid alcohol, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers and sleep medications because these tend to relax the muscles of the throat, which can worsen snoring. Cigarette smoke can cause throat tissues to swell and thus encourage snoring.

If, after following all of these recommendations, your husband continues to snore, I advise he use a dental appliance that prevents the tongue from sagging against the back of the throat. It helps about 60 percent of snorers.

Or he could try a snore alarm, such as one sold at Sharper Image stores. It is a wristwatch that vibrates as soon as a person begins to snore.

For you, the nonsnoring spouse, I recommend a background-noise machine that makes the sound of a waterfall or raindrops. It may help you sleep better. Or you could try soft earplugs until your husband has been treated.

Q. Are there physical dangers or specific health risks that generally are associated with snoring?

–M.C., Veradale, Wash.

A. There is a very serious medical problem called obstructive sleep apnea that is associated with snoring. It causes the upper airway to become completely obstructed for 10 seconds or longer and occurs in about 2 percent to 4 percent of middle-age adults. It may occur a few times or hundreds of times during sleep.

In sleep apnea, there is a decrease of oxygen in the blood and an increase of carbon dioxide. This change in blood gases alerts the brain and causes it to awaken the body, even though a person may not realize he or she is waking up.

This leads to excessive daytime drowsiness, depression, and learning and memory problems. It is linked to irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

However, even though everyone with sleep apnea snores, all snorers do not have sleep apnea. Sadly, though, as many as 80 percent of apnea sufferers don’t know they have the disease.

At least 60 percent of patients with sleep apnea are obese. If a man or woman has a large neck, a double chin and obesity around the abdominal region, then there seems to be an increased correlation with obstructive sleep apnea.

If you suspect that you or your spouse has sleep apnea, see your doctor and undergo a sleep-lab study. The most important thing to do is lose weight and avoid alcohol, muscle relaxants, tranquilizers or sleep aids.

Donald Colbert, M.D., is a family physician and nutrition expert. His latest book What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You! is available from Siloam Press at Send your questions about health and nutrition to Doctor’s Orders, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746.


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Charisma Highlights: Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Following are snippets of the top stories posted on over the past week. We encourage you to visit the links to read the stories in full. Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are...

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your family This Thanksgiving

This month we are entering a season which, in the United States, has been devoted to gratitude and thanksgiving for 400 years! While the Thanksgiving holiday has had a long and varied history within the United States, the practice of devoting sacrificial offerings,...

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

Don’t Let Ungratefulness Turn You Into a Spoiled American

My frequent trips to developing nations always help me adjust my attitude. Just when I start to feel spoiled and entitled, I meet people from places like Congo, India and Honduras—and I realize just how blessed I am. This happened to me again last week during a trip...

The Power of Being Thankful

The Power of Being Thankful

One of the best ways to show God we love Him is to be thankful. When we express our deep gratitude to Him, it actually invites His presence onto our lives. Being thankful also neutralizes the enemy and brings victory into our situations no matter what the outcome....

Get Off Your Pew!

Get Off Your Pew!

As God’s clock inches closer to the final hour before His return, many people find themselves filled with angst, anxiety and despair. People are not sleeping well, many have fallen into depression and are feeling hopeless. These are the very days that we have been...

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

The Great Commission Can Set Us Free from Responsibility

Read Time: 4 Minutes 28 Seconds While all of the stories we read in the Torah are meaningful, sometimes the events we read about can seem to hold more relevance, especially for those of us who are followers of Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah. One such event is the calling...


The Church’s Role in Preserving Freedom of Speech in America

Read Time: 3 Minutes 17 Seconds The controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving and his post of a tweet that claims the Jews in Israel are not the real Jews—that Black Africans are the real Jews—raises...
Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Count Your Blessings, For God Indeed is Good

Read Time: 4 Minutes 42 Seconds Thanksgiving Day is just a few days away for U.S. Americans. It is a favorite holiday—perhaps only exceeded by Christmas—to gather with family and friends to watch parades, play (American) “football” and eat delicious food—often from...

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven?

Is Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer in Heaven? Read Time: 3 Minutes, 10 Seconds Is it possible that behind the pearly gates of heaven there are murderers, pedophiles and cannibals walking along the streets of gold? We are taught in the book of Romans, "That if...

Pin It on Pinterest