There’s a running joke about wives not being able to sleep because of their husbands’ loud snoring. But in reality, women can snore as loudly as men, and that chronic snoring is no laughing matter.
Nearly 90 million Americans occasionally snore and 37 million people reported snoring regularly. While snoring is very common, medical professionals still warn against its dangers to our health such as fatigue due to interrupted sleep and higher risks of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.
Many resort to using humidifiers while sleeping to prevent or at least reduce snoring.
Does a humidifier help with snoring? Do the high or low levels of humidity cause you to snore? Is it okay to sleep through the night with a humidifier on? What are your best options in picking a humidifier for your home?
Let’s put these questions to rest in this article.
Will A Humidifier Help to Stop Snoring?
Excessively dry air can irritate the nasal tissues and throat due to a lack of enough moisture. This leads to loud and frequent snoring. One big way a humidifier can help is by releasing the vapor in your bedroom, thus raising the humidity and preventing snoring.
It is safe to sleep with a humidifier on all night to maintain a restful and quiet sleep. However, a warm mist humidifier must be at a safe distance that cannot be reached by children or pets to avoid burning. A whole-house humidifier is also a more practical choice if you want to manage humidity in the entire home.
It is also crucial to keep the humidity level in your bedroom in check as overly high humidity can also cause difficulty in breathing and can promote the growth of mold and other allergens. Breathing in toxins as you sleep can cause inflammation of the throat and nasal passages and can make snoring worse.
What Causes You to Snore?
Snoring happens when the tissues in your throat relax as you fall asleep. As the connective tissues and muscles in your throat, as well as the soft palate and tongue relax, they sag and slightly obstruct your airway. As the air passes through a relatively smaller path, they vibrate and create a harsh, turbulent noise we know as a snore.
What are the usual causes of snoring? Here are some:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA is a breathing disorder where a person stops and starts breathing as you sleep. The throat muscles of a person with OSA relax way too much that it makes airflow difficult or even impossible. The most obvious symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, but it is also accompanied by drowsiness during the daytime, morning headaches, irritability, and waking up abruptly with a forceful gasp or choking sound. It is best to see a doctor if you suspect you’re suffering from OSA.
- Immoderate drinking of alcohol. Consuming exorbitant amounts of alcohol before going to sleep tends to make throat muscles more relaxed, thus causing louder snoring. Intoxication can also make a person more susceptible to obstruction of the airways.
- Mouth’s physical structure. People with significantly lower and thicker soft palates, more elongated uvula, and larger oropharynx are found to be more frequent snorers.
- Nasal complications. If you have a deviated septum, a condition where the partitions between your nostril are crooked or off-center, you are more prone to snoring. The same is true if you have chronic nasal congestion because the path of airflow is typically hindered.
- Obesity. Snoring comes easily to people with weight problems because they tend to have an excess of fatty tissues. If a person sustains more fats in the upper chest area and neck, the airflow will be suppressed.
- Lack of sleep. Constant sleep deprivation leads to overt tiredness so the body including the throat is more inclined to relax when it gets a chance for a shut-eye.
- Sleeping on your back. Gravity is not your friend when you are prone to snoring. If you lay down on your back, your airway will be more restricted.
- Dehydration. Not drinking enough water before going to bed or extremely low humidity in your room can trigger or make snoring worse.
Sleep apnea and nasal complications are best to be looked at and treated by healthcare professionals. Snoring because of the anatomy of your mouth can be remedied by nasal steroids or surgery to straighten out the septum. While alcohol consumption, sleeping on your back, and obesity can be managed by lifestyle changes.
But how can humidifiers help to put a stop to snoring caused by dehydration and lack of sleep?
Does Dry Air Worsen Snoring?
During cold climates, people naturally turn on their heating systems indoors to stay comfortable. This brings the humidity low and prompts health problems such as congestion, sore throat, and our hot topic: snoring.
As we know, a humidifier adds moisture to your air until ideal levels are reached. But how exactly does a humidifier solve the snoring problem and also deal with some of its triggers?
- Hydrate the air in your home. Humidifiers are most effective when snoring is brought on by breathing in dry air. Because we normally sleep for hours, our bodies go without water for an extended period. Keeping a humidifier in your bedroom will moisturize your nasal and throat tissues and lessen the risk of inflammation and obstruction of the airway leading to snoring.
- Reduce congestion. Colds and flu increase the production of mucus. Since mucus is naturally sticky, it blocks the airflow as we sleep and results in snoring. Also, if our nose is clogged, we breathe through our mouth and leave it mostly open when we snooze. This causes more dryness of the throat and louder snoring. Humidifiers can help ease congestion by loosening the mucus so it is easier to expel.
- Improves the quality of your sleep. Contrary to what some believe, a snoring person is NOT having a good sleep but a restless one. A person with a snoring problem does not reach the REM cycle because their sleep is interrupted by the vibrations of their throats. A humidifier will not only solve the dry air issue but the white noise it creates as it runs helps people sleep better.
Is It Good to Sleep With a Humidifier?
Despite the numerous benefits of using a humidifier to prevent or reduce snoring, you may still be hesitant to sleep with a humidifier all night.
After all, too much humidity is also dangerous to your health as it can trigger the nerves in your lungs to contract and narrow your airways, thus making your snoring worse. High levels of humidity can also encourage the growth of allergens and initiate allergic reactions or asthma, neither contributing to a good night’s sleep.
If you are concerned that the humidifier might overproduce humidity, set the humidistat to 30% to 50% before heading to bed so you don’t have to worry about excessive moisture as you sleep.
It is also important to keep the humidifier and tank clean and the water fresh.
What Humidifier is Best for Snoring?
There are two major types of humidifiers: a warm or a cool mist humidifier. Both are efficient in humidifying your home and helping to prevent snoring because each produces a mist that adds to the overall moisture in the air.
One consideration is if you are going to put a warm mist humidifier in the children’s bedroom. Warm mist humidifiers heat the water first before releasing mist in the air. If your child is a restless sleeper, place the humidifier away from their reach to avoid accidental burning. The same is true when you have pets sleeping with you in your bedroom.
The best way to increase humidity safely is by installing a whole-house humidifier instead of several portable ones. You can manage the level of humidity for your entire home instead of having to control each device in every room. This way, you can be assured that your whole family has better sleep at night.