A common cause of snoring is that the tongue falls back into the throat during sleep. This form of snoring only occurs when you sleep on your back. Conversely, this means, you can prevent snoring by sleeping on your side or on your stomach. There are various position therapy devices like sleep vests or anti-snoring backpacks.
The Tongue Base is a Major Cause of Snoring
Snoring in supine position is mostly caused by the tongue, i.e. by its tongue base. During sleep, the tongue’s muscles relax and the tongue base slides backwards into the throat due to gravity. This narrows or even blocks the airways and leads to noises commonly known as snoring. This type of snoring is called tongue snoring or tongue-based snoring (as the tongue is the cause of snoring). About 30% of the snorers are tongue snorers, i.e., they only snore while sleeping on the back.
Good to know: The snoring noise occurs in spurts. In many cases the tone is higher than the typical snoring sound.
Position Therapy - Pillows against Snoring Noises
Positional therapy products can help against tongue snoring. They make it impossible to sleep comfortably in a supine position, so that you are forced to sleep on your side or on your stomach. This eliminates the risk of the tongue falling back into the throat. So far, most positional therapy products come in the form of belts, vests or backpacks. A rather new and emerging category of positional therapy products are anti-snore pillows.
Some of these cushions are described as rather small, medium-hard headrests. There is a raised ridge in the middle that prevents you from sleeping on your back. Instead, the head automatically rolls down to the left or right side during sleep, forcing you to sleep in a lateral position. These cushions are often made of a memory foam core which perfectly adapts to your head. This type of anti-snoring pillow relieves the neck and keeps you free from snoring. They can also be used for treating mild, position-dependent sleep apnea. But please consult with your physician before using it for sleep apnea treatment.
Similar cushions are also available for the legs: With a rather harder padding, they are placed between the knees and thus provide for a pleasant sleep on the side.
The so-called side pillows are soft and around 1.40 meters long. Many of them replicate the shape of a 7 and are positioned close to the body. One leg usually lies on the pillow while the arms wrap around the cushion.
Why Sleeping in a Lateral Position is Healthy
First and foremost, sleeping in lateral position can prevent snoring. Incidentally, snoring can turn from a daily problem into a health hazard. For example; if it develops into a sleep apnea, then the upper respiratory tract closes completely during sleep. This prevents air from flowing through at all and one stops breathing for a while, during which time the body is not supplied with oxygen. This has negative health effects such as; lack of concentration, fatigue during the day, high blood pressure etc.
In addition, sleeping on the side prevents heartburn. Sleeping on one’s left side is even better than sleeping on one’s right side. The reason lies in the human anatomy: the stomach is known to be on the left side. For people sleeping on the right side, the stomach is above the esophagus. The acidic gastric fluid can thus easily flow up the esophagus and cause heartburn, due to gastroesophageal (acid) reflux. However, when one sleeps on the left side the stomach and its contents are lower than the esophagus. As a result, stomach acid rarely flows into the esophagus and one hardly ever experiences any heartburn.