Having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? You’re not alone! 90% of Australians will suffer from some form of sleep disorder in their lifetime, with 30% being severely affected. With the International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD) organising 8 categories, with over 70 recognised sleep disorders, it’s no wonder it’s difficult to know what’s causing you to toss and turn.
Causes may be medical, social or behavioural, or a combination of these factors, making the diagnosis and treatment complex. In fact, a staggering 80% of sufferers go undiagnosed. If you or someone you know suffers from snoring, insomnia, difficulty getting to sleep or simply restlessness, then you should seek expert advice from your GP or family dentist. In the meantime, there are some easy and safe natural sleep treatments that may provide some ease. Even if these treatments don’t stop you snoring overnight, you may just feel more energised and better equipped to take on the day.
A few simple changes in your diet and lifestyle may be all you need to get a better night’s sleep.
Foods to eat that can help you sleep!
Foods high in Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, are thought to facilitate your body’s production of the neurotransmitters associated with good sleep. Serotonin and Melatonin have long been associated with sleep cycles and are often used as natural sleeping treatments. While there is still a need for clinical research to support these claims, there does exist an abundance of anecdotal evidence to support better sleep with a diet rich in some of these wholesome goodies:
- Sweet potatoes
- Nuts, seeds, beans and legumes
- Salmon and white fish
- Chicken and turkey
Foods to avoid if you snore!
Milk and dairy products, especially if you know you’re lactose intolerant. Avoiding foods that contain lactose could be a good idea and an easy, natural snoring remedy! Lactose sensitivity can cause a reaction in the airways and lead to swelling in and around the nasal passage. A narrow nasal passage, or narrowing after a reaction, can often lead to or contribute to snoring. Not only can dairy products cause a reaction to lactose, but they can also give the sensation of increased mucus. The verdict is still out on if milk actually causes an increase in mucus production or just the sensation due to its consistency, but either way a glass of milk just before bed might not help you snore less! Milk and dairy products are important source of calcium, so be sure to keep this in mind if you decide to make a dietary change.
Making a change from red meat to fish at dinnertime could help you snore less too. The saturated fats in red meat have been associated with increased inflammation around the nasal passage and sinus. Choosing other protein rich options, like fish, chicken or legumes, for the family meal may reduce the narrowing of your sinuses and help everyone sleep a little sounder that night.
Maybe give the extra night cap a miss?
Do you have a night cap or two to help you nod off? If snoring and broken sleep is a concern, then it may be alcohol related. It’s well known that a drink or two can put you to sleep. Anyone that’s ever indulged in a few alcoholic beverages is sure to have felt the sleepiness coming on. What’s less known is that alcohol can actually disrupt your quality of sleep and be detrimental to the later stages of your slumber. It’s during the later stages of your sleep when REM (rapid eye movement) is most prevalent. During these stages of sleep, your body is repairing and regenerating, which is critical to wellbeing. Disruption by alcohol to these later stages can leave you waking up during night or waking up early and not getting the benefits of a full night’s sleep.
A few too many drinks will also act as a muscle relaxant, letting your tongue and throat muscles relax and fall back in your mouth, reducing or even closing off your airway. Reducing the number of drinks to a moderate level is always recommended for other health reasons, but now you know good sleep is another!
Roll over for a better sleep!
Along with implementing dietary changes, you could experiment with new sleeping positions. Are you a back sleeper? You could try to raise your head a few centimetres on a higher pillow. This will allow your tongue to relax forward in your mouth rather than fall back and, thus, may help keep your airways open. Alternatively, try to get some shuteye on your side. If you notice that a change in your sleep position helps reduce your snoring, you may benefit further from a consultation with your dentist. Often a small mouth, large tongue, a narrow jaw or any combination of these factors can lead to snoring in all ages. Most people don’t consider asking their dentist about their snoring, but a dentist can often easily assess whether a dental device may help you.
While it may be difficult to stop snoring overnight, some simple changes in your diet can certainly go a long way towards improving your sleep quality. Natural remedies to reduce snoring can also have a myriad of other health benefits. Snoring can often be treated and sleep improved by a discussion with your dentist. For more information about how a Sound Sleeper dentist may be able to help, click here.
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