By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
There are few things worse than snoring… especially when it’s not you. It may come in a close second to being stuck on a plane with crying babies. And there’s only so many times you can try to tap, turn, or (gently) punch someone to make them stop before your night of sleep is ruined. While sleep apnea is a more severe breathing condition and associated with being overweight and obese, occasional snoring is not very serious (according to this WebMD article). While it does worsen with age and can be influenced by weight, from my own experience snoring seems to be an equal opportunity issue among normal weight people.
I’ve heard the “deviated septum” or “broke my nose” excuse with many a friend and an ex-boyfriend or two, but being a Googler extraorinaire I knew there had to be something diet related in there. I was right.
As it turns out, research shows that certain foods cause more inflammation than others, and a higher production of mucus and phlegm – lovely, I know – which acts like glue and in turn causes congestion in the airways. These foods typically include dairy products; starchy processed foods like white breads, pastas, and pastries; fried foods; and alcohol (though it may make the snorer sleep more soundly).
While a “stop-the-snore” diet doesn’t have to cut these foods out entirely, it seems avoiding them in the hours leading up to bedtime can work wonders for decongestion and anti-inflammation.
In addition to avoiding those congestion-causing foods, there are preventative ones to add in as well. Pungent foods like onions, garlic, leeks, and horseradish may actually “dry up” mucus and phlegm. Herbal teas are also incredibly soothing for the throat and nasal passages – not to mention hydration reduces congestion.
So are you a snorer or do you deal with one on the regular? How do you handle it? Have you noticed any improvements with diet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.