To some of us, holding on to denial might be easier than owning up to how often we’ve woken ourselves up by snoring. What seems like a harmless problem really can be much more.
Snoring might seem joke-worthy in passing, but if it’s something you have to deal with every night, it can become important and burdensome. For example, light snoring doesn’t seem to affect the snorer’s sleep but still can keep their partner awake.1 Louder, more prolonged, bouts result in the snorer also facing sleep disturbances. They can also be indicative of a more serious problem, such as sleep apnea, which can have health consequences if left untreated.
There are solutions to common snoring, however, some much more effective than a sharp elbow from your partner. This includes products that claim to help prevent snoring like nose clips, tapes, special pillows, and mouthpieces. More drastic solutions include electroshock therapy or surgery on the pharynx. 2 However, there is another potential for remedy, effective for some and enjoyable for all: essential oils.
How Does Snoring Work?
Snoring occurs when you can’t easily move air through your nose and throat while sleeping. The restriction of airflow can create a vibration in surrounding tissues, resulting in the familiar snoring sound. Sound levels vary from 60 decibels (about the level of normal talking) to 100 decibels (think chainsaw). 3
Your snoring might have one or multiple causes. Some causes of snoring relate to how your body is made, while others arise from things you’re doing to your body to create problems. Primarily, snoring is all about breathing. Anything that interferes or changes how you breathe can become a cause of snoring. This includes allergies, inflammation from irritants other than allergens,—like working in a dusty environment—or congestion.
Causes for Snoring
Here are some other reasons for snoring:
- Have you always snored? Individuals often begin snoring as they age. But a sudden onset of snoring could be attributable to an allergy in the environment or food.
- Did you snore as a child? Some children snore due to swollen or oversized tonsils. 4
- Are you a smoker? Irritation from smoking can aggravate snoring.
- Have you gained weight? Added weight affects tissues all over the body, including in the back of the mouth and throat.
- Do you snore only after indulging in a few drinks? Alcohol consumption can add to the problem by causing increased relaxation of muscles and tissues, allowing the airways to narrow and increasing noise.
- Do you only snore in one position? The anatomy of the back of mouth and throat is such that snoring is particularly likely when sleeping on the back.
- Do you regularly suffer from nasal congestion? Congestion often increases at night as the breathing rate slows and the body is horizontal. This congestion also restricts airways.
- Do you currently have a low-grade infection? You might not feel sick, but if there is a slight infection in your system, it might be affecting your breathing, which can lead to snoring at night.
Perhaps you see a probable cause of your snoring in the list above. Maybe these ideas have clarified that your snoring is related to some activity that you can change. For many individuals, snoring may be caused by multiple factors, but it’s important to remember that breathing well is important to overall health and wellbeing. Taking action to curb snoring is important.
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Solutions to snoring can be simple or complex. They can be something you can try on your own, while others may require the help of a medical professional.
Essential Oils for Snoring Prevention
These first four oils promote general respiratory health. They also have multiple effects, so they might be especially helpful if you think your snoring could be caused by a range of factors or you’re unsure of what the cause is.
Known as the “sacred herb” by Romans and a powerful purifier by the Lakota Native American tribe, sage might be best known to some today as the spice their mothers used in Thanksgiving turkey stuffing.
The scientific name for sage is Salvia officinalis, and its other common names include common sage or Dalmatian sage. There is a range of sage essential oils like Greek sage, Spanish sage, and clary sage, so make that you’re purchasing the correct one.
Sage essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers of the plant. 5 In terms of its chemical properties, the sage essential oil contains ketones, which are known to have healing properties and can thin mucus. This essential oil also boosts respiratory and lymphatic system function, both of which can be involved in snoring if working improperly.
Additionally, sage acts as an antibacterial and decongestant, making it helpful for asthma, bronchitis, and glandular disorders. Its scent is herbal and fresh, with a hint of camphor. Sage essential oil blends well with lemon, lavender, and pine essential oils.
To reap the benefits of sage, try applying it topically after diluting it with a carrier oil like coconut, almond, or jojoba oil, adding a few drops to a room diffuser, or breathing it through a personal essential oil diffuser like Zen or Vibrant MONQ. Remember: breathe gently into your mouth and out through your nose. MONQ should not be inhaled into the lungs.
The familiar scent of eucalyptus is a powerful curative. It was used by Aboriginal Australians to bind up serious wounds as it would prevent infection and speed up the healing process. Make sure to look for its Latin name, Eucalyptus globulus, as there are several types of eucalyptus essential oils available. This essential oil primarily affects the respiratory system, reducing the symptoms caused by asthma, coughs, colds, hay fever, inflammation of mucous membranes, and sore throats. The oil promotes overall good health, purification, and healing.
Chemically, eucalyptus contains cineol, an oxide which acts as an anesthetic, antiseptic, and expectorant. The essential oil offers a woody and earthy aroma that blends well with lavender, lemon, Melissa, pine, and thyme.
In order to use eucalyptus essential oil to improve respiratory function, add 10–15 drops of the essential oil to a bowl of boiling water, place a towel over your head and breathe in the vapors for five to 10 minutes. The steam from the bowl will thin mucus while the essential oil itself provides decongestant properties. 6
Another familiar scent, especially during the holiday season, pine essential oil provides powerful support to the respiratory system. Chemically, it contains pinene, which is a terpene with strong antiseptic properties found in many conifer oils. Pine essential oil also provides antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties, especially to the pulmonary system. Often used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, and colds, it is thought to open up the vessels in the respiratory system.
Another powerful oil with a long history, thyme was used by the Egyptians in embalming. The Greeks used this oil to fight infectious diseases, and thyme essential oil continues to provide us with a range of benefits today. Thyme also helps alleviate the symptoms of respiratory disorders including asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, and tonsillitis.
Thyme is commonly thought of as a strong fighter of bacterial and viral infections. Its scent is fresh and herbaceous and its benefits can be enjoyed through a room diffuser or personal aromatherapy diffuser like Happy or Mountain MONQ.
If congestion or low-grade infection might be the underlying reason behind your snoring, these oils might prove helpful.
The fennel seed is ground and steam distilled to produce the essential oil. It is helpful for relieving digestive and menstrual issues, but also highly regarded for the benefits it provides to the respiratory system by acting as a decongestant and thinning out mucus. The scent of fennel is spicy and peppery with a hint of licorice.
It blends well with lavender and lemon and can provide its range of benefits when used topically when diluted with a carrier oil or used aromatically in a room or personal essential oil diffuser like Happy or Vibrant MONQ.
Citronella essential oil comes from the leaves of a tropical grass. It is best known as an insect repellent but has also long been used to help with alleviating aches and pains. The oil can also be helpful for fatigue, colds, flu, minor infections, and headaches.
In terms of chemical composition, citronella contains the aldehyde citronellal, which has a lemony scent. Many aldehydes can be irritating to the skin, but soothing and calming to the body. This aldehyde is also found in lemon, Melissa, and eucalyptus essential oils. The scent is fresh, a bit fruity, citrusy, and sweet. It blends well with lemon and pine essential oils.
Lemon essential oil is a common and handy oil to have in your collection because it is uplifting, energizing, and great at clearing away musty or smoky odors from a room.
The oil is produced from the lemon rind, either through cold pressing or steam distillation. However, if you plan to use the oil on your skin, choose steam distilled oil. The chemical compound limonene gives the lemon essential oil its distinctive smell.
The lemon essential oil acts as an antiseptic, antiviral, and astringent. According to the Reference Guide for Essential Oils, its ability to promote contraction in skin and tissues could improve the tone of tissues in the back of mouth and throat, minimizing snoring.
Lemon essential oil blends well with eucalyptus, fennel, and peppermint and can provide its benefits topically or aromatically in a room diffuser or personal essential oil diffuser like Zen, Sexy, Healthy, Active, Vibrant, Ocean, or Mountain MONQ.
The Romans and Greeks thought of marjoram as the “herb of happiness,” as it seemed to warm the body and the emotions. Marjoram essential oil works as an antibacterial, expectorant, sedative, and tonic. It calms the respiratory system, helping to relieve respiratory congestion, asthma, and bronchitis.
The herbal, woodsy scent has also been shown to promote sleep and relaxation. Marjoram essential oil blends well with lavender and lemon and can provide a range of benefits when used in a personal essential diffuser like Happy, Sleepy, Healthy MONQ.
The scent of peppermint is familiar to many. While commonly used as a breath freshener, this fresh, strong scent reminds some of the holiday seasons. It is uplifting, invigorating, and intense, more so than many steam distilled oils.
Peppermint is also used to remedy digestive issues, asthma, and sinusitis. Because of its energizing characteristics, it is most effective when blended with another oil more-relaxing oil to help reduce snoring without interrupting good sleep.
If you think allergies might be your snoring culprit, some of the essential oils highlighted below might be of help.
Melissa is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. It is still used today by many for balancing the emotions because it is both calming and uplifting. Melissa essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and flowers of the plant.
As with many floral oils, it takes a lot of plant material to produce this essential oil, so it is expensive. Ensure you are purchasing real Melissa essential oil and not one that contains synthetic fragrance.
Melissa essential oil is helpful for allergies, anxiety, stress, tension, and sleep issues. Chemically, it contains the aldehydes citral and citronellal, which can be a skin irritant, so ensure that this essential oil is diluted with a carrier oil before topical application.
Additionally, this essential oil has antibacterial, antihistamine, and antiviral properties. Its scent is fresh, herbal, and lemony. It blends well with lavender and other citrus essential oils.
Spicy and warming, clove is often used in cooking and baking. Historically, it has been widely used to relieve the pain of toothaches. It is best known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting properties, all of which could prevent or reduce snoring.
The scent of clove is woody, warming, and spicy. It blends well with lavender, lemon, and peppermint and provides benefits when used topically, added to a room diffuser, or used in a personal essential oil diffuser like Love MONQ.
It’s not surprising that lavender essential oil is included in this list. Aromatherapy teachers often say that if you can only have one oil, make it lavender. Since the causes of snoring can be many and varied, having a powerful multipurpose oil on hand is helpful.
Lavender is effective against a range of health issues—from dandruff to diaper rash—but in terms of snoring, it combats allergies and has anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it is widely used for alleviating stress and anxiety.
The scent of lavender is floral, sweet, herbal, and fresh. This essential oil blends well with most oils, especially citrus ones. Lavender essential oil is very versatile and can provide its health benefits when added to a bath, applied topically when diluted with a carrier oil, added to a room diffuser, or used in a personal aromatherapy diffuser like Happy, Sexy, Sleepy, or Ocean MONQ.
How To Use Essential Oils
Studies have shown that many methods work quite effectively when it comes to using essential oils. For example, a few drops of an essential oil on a small dish or a tissue tucked inside a pillowcase can work well for some.
Most oils, especially thyme, work well when massaged onto the bottom of the big toe, which, from a reflexology perspective, is the area that affects the throat. Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil to avoid skin irritation.
Additionally, all of these essential oils can be breathed straight from the bottle, through a room diffuser, or via a personal aromatherapy diffuser.
As with any self-directed healing practice, remember that everyone is different. What works well for one individual might not work for another. What is a pleasing scent to some won’t be so pleasant to others? Pay attention to your intuition about the oils you prefer using, and carefully monitor your progress.
With snoring, your bed partner might often be the best source of feedback on your results. May your night’s sleep be silent and perfectly scented.