Snoring is a significant concern for many people, with Sleep Medicine Reviews stating that up to 40% of the global population struggle with loud snoring at night. Snoring can lead to a restless night for the individual and anybody that shares their bed.
Typically, snoring is caused by vibrations in the throat or nasal airways while we sleep. Many snoring remedies are available, but lifestyle changes can play a sizable role in controlling and even ceasing snoring, including changing diet.
While eating anything late at night can lead to snoring, meals high in salt or sugar are prime offenders. Red meat, saturated fats, and refined carbohydrates are common concerns.
Some liquids are also linked directly to snoring. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks should be avoided at night for various reasons, with a direct correlation to snoring just one of them. Milk, and the common substitute soy, can also agitate the throat at night and lead to snoring.
Why Do I Snore After Eating?
Snoring has various triggers, from your sleeping position to using an inappropriate pillow.
If you eat food or consume drinks high in inflammatory compounds. Such foods irritate and inflame the throat, mouth, and nasal passages. Loud, disruptive snoring will follow.
Foods that lead to enhanced mucus generation can also result in snoring. While sleeping at night, you’ll not consciously clear mucus by swallowing or blowing your nose. Mucus levels can then build up, preventing breathing through the nose and agitating the throat.
Eating too late can lead to snoring, as your body is still digesting while you try to sleep. Eating around four hours before retiring for the night is best, and moderate what you consume to enhance your chances of a quieter night.
What Foods Trigger Snoring?
Any food can make you snore if you eat too late at night or try to sleep before you have adequately digested and cleared your throat and air passages. Some food types are linked more closely to snoring if you eat them at night, including the following:
The body automatically releases more fluid when we consume a meal heavily seasoned with salt. This is an instinctive reaction as your organs seek to retain a balance between water and sodium in the body.
This outcome leads to what is commonly referred to as water retention or edema. Edema often leads to swelling in the extremities while upright, as this fluid needs to pool somewhere. While we sleep and lie horizontal, the fluid moves to the neck.
The water build-up in the neck narrows the upper airways. At best, this will cause irritation that leads to snoring – and frequently, it prevents breathing for a few seconds at a time, resulting in loud sleep apnea.
Cheese and Other Dairy Products
As confirmed by The Laryngoscope, the consumption of dairy products like cheese or yogurt is linked to the creation of mucus in the body. This mucus will start in the chest and move to the airways, blocking the ability to breathe freely through the nose.
If you can’t breathe through your nose, you’ll instinctively do so through your mouth. Unfortunately, excess mucus doesn’t stop at the nasal passages, as it travels down the throat, causing irritation and snoring.
All dairy products made from cows’ or goats’ milk will have this impact, so choosing a lactose-free option won’t make any difference. Give your sinuses time to recover from dairy consumption by avoiding eating it for around six hours before bed.
Eggs are often regarded alongside dairy products, and where snoring is concerned, they have a similar impact. Consumption of eggs can cause swelling in the adenoids, which are lymphatic nodes found at the back of the nose, just above the top of the mouth.
Swollen adenoids are often connected to mild allergic reactions, as they block the Eustachian tubes. If these tubes are restricted, it’s tough to clear any mucus that builds up while you sleep, with snoring and sleep apnea invariably following.
Processed sugar increases the phlegm produced by the chest, which blocks the nasal passages while we sleep. Unfortunately, the same is also true of natural sugar. Where snoring is concerned, an apple is no better than a donut or ice cream cone.
Another connection between sugar and snoring is that sweet foods encourage the production and release of cytokines. As per International Anesthesiology Clinics, some of these proteins are naturally inflammatory. Enjoy any sweet treats a few hours before bed.
Red meat is arguably the most commonly discussed of all foods linked to inflammation. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms that consumption of red meat is linked to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), insulin, ferritin (iron protein), and hemoglobin A1c.
Red meat is also frequently high in saturated fat, which can also be linked to inflammation – and, by extension, snoring. Try to minimize red meat consumption, treating it as a side dish rather than the main course. Better yet, exchange red meat for fish.
Eating red meat in the evening gives your body time to recover, as it can take the body as long as six hours to digest this food fully. If you’re eating a heavy meal, do so as early as possible.
Wheat and Bread
Wheat and bread products are often referred to as refined carbohydrates. Sometimes, the idea of consuming carbs before bed is appealing. Foods high in carbs tend to leave us feeling sluggish and sated. While that can lead to a frustrating energy crash in the afternoon, it’s arguably ideal at night.
Unfortunately, refined carbohydrates impact the body almost identically to sugar. Consuming wheat or bread will spike your body’s blood sugar and leads to inflammation.
Pasta and white bread are the biggest problem foods here, so avoid consuming such dishes before bed, especially if you’re pairing them with red meat. Consider brown rice and vegetables instead.
What Drinks Trigger Snoring?
It’s not just eating the wrong foods before bed that can cause snoring, as what we drink is crucial to keeping the airways clear and preventing a noisy, disruptive night of slumber.
Before climbing into bed, there are some beverage types to avoid, including:
A glass of warm milk, or a mug of hot cocoa, have long been considered bedtime staples that lead to a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, as established, dairy products aggravate the nose and throat.
If you must have a hot drink before bed, use a milk substitute that won’t make you snore. As we are about to discuss, some popular choices are just as likely to make you snore as milk.
Soy is a popular alternative to cow’s milk for vegans and people that struggle to digest lactose.
Unfortunately, soy is just as likely to create a hard mucus build-up as dairy. Ergo, consuming soy milk before bed will potentially block your airways and lead to snoring.
Thankfully, other milk alternatives are safe and will not have the same impact. For example, almond milk has antioxidant properties that reduce inflammation and snoring risk.
Coconut and oat milk are available from any reputable supermarket and provoke none of the same concerns as a traditional glass of milk. Apply these substitutes to your evening drink if you indulge in such a practice as part of your sleep hygiene routine.
Alcohol and snoring are linked due primarily to alcoholic drinks’ physical impact on the body. While you may feel that an alcoholic nightcap helps you nod off at night, it’s unlikely to be a restful slumber.
When we drink alcohol, the muscles in the throat relax, resulting in blockages to the airways, forcing the body to work harder to breathe.
You’ll likely snore, even if you don’t struggle with sleep apnea after drinking alcohol. The more forcefully the body seeks to inhale oxygen, the more your throat will vibrate.
Most people know to avoid caffeine before bed, as the purpose of this stimulant is to keep us awake. Just cutting down on coffee is not enough to prevent snoring, though. As per Chest, caffeinated soda drinks are also linked to snoring.
Experts have long decried the connection between caffeine and snoring, but the study above confirms that the substance is directly linked to sleep-disordered breathing. This outcome may not be as serious as sleep apnea, but it’ll result in snoring.
So, switch caffeinated soda to water at night. Remember that fluid intake should be limited after dark to prevent the need to urinate during the night.
What to Eat and Drink to Avoid Snoring
Discussing the foods that may aid a restful night of sleep for you and anybody that shares your bed may be beneficial.
While there’s no foolproof way to prevent snoring, bringing the following ingredients into your life will often lead to a quieter, more restful night:
Onions and Garlic
While some people may not care for the taste or scent of onions and garlic, these foods can be powerful weapons against snoring.
As per Nutrition and Food Science, both ingredients inhibit the oxidation of fats and act as antibacterial agents, clearing the throat overnight.
Green tea is a natural decongestant that will help clear your airways before you get into bed. Thankfully, green tea is also packed with antioxidants and other ingredients that benefit your body.
Don’t drink green tea too late, as most brands will contain traces of caffeine. Consider chamomile tea if you’re seeking a beverage to help you fall asleep.
However, switching your afternoon coffee or black tea to green tea will help you breathe at night.
Honey and Lemon Water
If you can’t tolerate the taste of green tea or like to hydrate at night before getting into bed, consider adding some lemon and a little honey to a glass of water.
Honey and lemon water is a natural remedy for head colds and upper respiratory infections, as both ingredients have naturally decongestant and antiseptic properties.
Thyme and Turmeric
If you like a herbal taste in your water, sprinkle a little thyme or turmeric into the mix. These herbs combine well with honey and lemon, reducing the likelihood of snoring.
As per Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy, thyme achieves this by reducing mucus build-up in the nose and throat, significantly improving breathing. Turmeric, meanwhile, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Snoring may not be a life-threatening condition, but it can impact your ability to sleep – and, more critically, those around you. You can block out snoring if you don’t want to change your diet.