Have you ever watched your love sleep peacefully and felt your heart swell? While it might be adorable to hear a child snore, it is rarely cute when you are trying to share a bed with someone snoring. When you or your partner has a tendency to snore, it can wreak havoc on your relationship by increasing irritability, arguments, making the snorer less attractive, and leaving both of you exhausted.

Looks like he needs a ZQuiet Anti-Snoring Mouthpiece!

While there are many reasons that people do not get enough sleep, snoring is one that is also linked to several additional health issues. Snoring is generally caused by some sort of airway obstruction which may be caused by several things including obesity and allergies among others. Snoring can cause sleep interruption and sleep apnea which causes frequent waking, shallow sleep, and strain on the heart. Snoring itself has been linked to risk of stroke, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and heart disease. According to snoremd.com, people who snore are at a higher risk of heart attack, auto accidents, fatigue, anxiety, and inattention.

Whether snoring is caused by allergies or obesity, changing your diet may help you stop, save your relationship, sleep better, and decrease your risk of several mental and physical health problems.

Sleep is essential to physical and mental health. I know people do not want to believe me when I say adults really do need at least eight hours of sleep per night because they cannot imagine dedicating the time. However, once they let themselves get used to sleeping the proper amount, they realize they could never go back to getting by on five or six hour nights.

Did you know that after being awake for 18 hours your reaction time slows and you begin experiencing periods of “microsleep” where your brain zones out for 2-20 seconds? Even more concerning, after 20 hours of wakefulness your reaction times slows to what it would be if you had a blood alcohol level of .08, which is considered legally intoxicated in some states. You may not be arrested for driving without sleep, but it does not mean that you are entirely safe on the road. It has been estimated that there are 100,000 sleep related auto accidents every year.

We know that without enough sleep, people begin to lose procedural memory, the type of memory needed for mastering tasks that require repetition. There is also a theory that different types of memory require different stages of sleep. Sleep helps rejuvenate the immune system. Lack of sleep can create chemicals that instruct your body to consume more calories. Those who sleep less than four hours each night on average are 73 percent more likely to be obese. Without enough sleep eventually psychosis and hallucinations will emerge, and none of us want to start hearing voices.

Like any habit change, don’t expect to change your bed time and sleep habits overnight, but gradually start making changes toward better, longer sleep. For instance, cut off all electronics one to two hours before your new bedtime (that goes for TVs, iPhones, iPads, laptops, and video games). These keep your brain active even though your body isn’t. Avoid caffeine or sugar, which will only continue to stimulate your brain. Take a warm bath or hot shower. Read a book, write, or do yoga. Make your bedroom a sleep-promoting environment by dimming the lights, keeping the air cool, and even using a sound machine if you like.

Be sure to visit your doctor, but some non-medicinal treatments for snoring include nasal strips or an anti-snoring mouthpiece.

By Brooke Randolph, LMHC, a private practice counselor in Indiana. Brooke educates on the relationship between mental health, nutrition and exercise. She’s also Director of Adoption Preparation at MLJ Adoptions. Brooke stays in shape by dancing, walking the dog, and running.