Sleep And Your Nose
Why do we brush our teeth? Because we know that if we brush daily, we prevent cavities and we feel better. We also know that all sorts of filters - for the car, the clothes dryer, or the home air system - all work better if kept clean. Why not the body’s filter?
The ancient practice of nasal washing is performed as a daily hygiene routine throughout the eastern world. Even our grandmothers knew that moisture in the nose makes sense. Have you ever sniffed salt water when you had a cold? Ever used a humidifier? How about that clean feeling after an ocean swim? Washing the nose uses a similar principle, but far more easily, efficiently and effectively.
Scientific literature regarding nasal irrigation supports this simple idea: Nasal washing is a proven way to reduce, or even completely avoid, the use of medication that treats a host of nasal woes. Allergists, family doctors, pediatricians, otolaryngologists, naturopathic physicians and nurse practitioners all agree that nasal washing is safe and effective. Our patients are showing us that those who wash their nose daily use fewer medications, sleep better, snore less and have fewer asthma episodes. Daily washing keeps your nasal passages and sinuses clean, clear and healthy.
Stuffy noses, congested sinuses, post nasal drip, asthma, and nasal issues of pregnancy can all be uncomfortable problems during the day. At night, they become downright miserable as they inhibit sound deep sleep. Perhaps the most difficult and longstanding sleep disorder is snoring. A common sleep problem affecting people of all ages, snoring provides endless comic relief for many. But it is really nothing to laugh about - causing poor sleep, daytime fatigue, and frustration between sleeping partners.
Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth, nose and throat is physically obstructed, causing the walls of the airways to vibrate during breathing. The result is the distinctive sound of snoring. Airflow can be obstructed by conditions which cause a narrowing of the nasal airways. During sleep, a person must work harder to breathe because of these partially blocked nasal passages. At times, the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse and vibrate. Some people snore only during allergy season or when they have a sinus infection. Some snore because they have a deformity of the nose, like a deviated septum or nasal polyps.
Snoring can be a sign of Sleep Apnea, a serious condition in which people actually stop breathing for several seconds at a time. This condition can be a serious problem and should be evaluated by a physician.
Nasal washing can be an effective way to reduce or eliminate snoring. While sleep studies are the only way to tell if snoring represents a serious problem, many who experience snoring and poor sleep quality merely have a stuffy nose. Washing the nasal passages before going to bed rinses and moisturizes the nasal tissues. It decreases sinus congestion and ensures open nasal passages, leading to increased air flow and greater comfort.
Just like brushing your teeth, regular nasal hygiene can help you stay healthy and feel better. A regular routine of nasal washing can be the difference between a good night’s sleep and waking up fatigued.
Be Well, Dr Hana
Hana R. Solomon, M.D.
Author of Clearing the Air, One Nose at a Time: Caring for Your Personal Filter