Snoring can be a serious cause of tension in relationships, and it can lead to unpleasant health problems. Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, and a variety of other health conditions. It also causes poor quality sleep for both you and your partner. The exhaustion, irritability, and trouble concentrating that occurs as a result of sleep deprivation can make your partner extremely frustrated about your snoring problem.
There are lots of treatments that can help you stop snoring. Many people look for safe and noninvasive treatments before considering oral devices or medications. Fortunately, there are many natural, noninvasive snoring solutions, including some surprising ones like the tennis ball technique.
The tennis ball technique involves keeping a tennis ball on your back while you sleep, which stops you from sleeping on your back. Sometimes, lying on your side is the only thing you have to do to stop snoring.
Why the Tennis Ball Method Works
Snoring typically happens because your tongue, uvula, or soft palate collapses over your throat and partially blocks the airway. Then, the tissue vibrates against the back of your throat while you breathe, creating the snoring sound. When you’re awake, your muscles are tense enough to prevent this from happening. When you fall asleep, they may relax too much and collapse.
This is much more likely to happen when you’re lying on your back than when you’re lying on your side. Lying on your back increases the amount of weight and pressure that’s directly placed on your neck and throat. If you lie on your side, there isn’t nearly as much pressure, and your mouth is less likely to collapse. This is especially true for people who have excess weight around their neck.
It can be difficult to change your sleeping position on your own, especially if you’re used to sleeping on your back every night. When you’re awake, you might fully intend to sleep on your side. However, your sleeping self probably won’t remember that, and it’s very likely that you’ll roll over onto your back as soon as you fall asleep.
If you sleep in bed with a partner, you could ask your partner to remind you to roll over whenever you start snoring. That would require your partner to wake up multiple times throughout the night, though. The tennis ball method is a quick and silent reminder to stay lying down on your back.
When you go to sleep, you’ll wear a shirt that has a pocket sewn into the back, and you’ll place a tennis ball into the pocket. Because lying on top of a tennis ball is so uncomfortable, you’ll immediately roll back onto your side. You won’t lie on your back for enough time to start snoring, and your partner won’t have to wake up.
Over time, sleeping on your side should become a habit. If you use the tennis ball technique, you may notice that the number of times you roll onto your back gets lower and lower until you don’t need the tennis ball at all.
How to Use the Tennis Ball Method
A few companies sell tennis ball T-shirts with the pocket already sewn in, but you can also make a DIY version. All you have to do is sew a pocket into the back of an old T-shirt or a pair of pajamas, making sure the pocket is deep enough that the tennis ball won’t roll right out. For maximum effectiveness, you could sew multiple pockets along the back of the shirt and use multiple tennis balls.
If you don’t want to spend money on a tennis ball T-shirt or sew one yourself, you can make an even easier version. Simply put a tennis ball in a sock, roll it up, and pin it to your pajamas between your shoulder blades. There’s a chance that it will come unpinned and fall off, though.
The tennis ball technique may be uncomfortable at first, especially if you roll onto your back many times each night. The tennis ball puts a lot of pressure on you when you lie on your back, so this method might be frustrating. However, the discomfort is the reason this method is successful.
Over time, sleeping on your side will become a habit, and you won’t need the tennis ball T-shirt anymore. If you snore because of the pressure on your throat when you lie on your back, this technique might be the easiest way to adjust to a new sleeping position and reduce or even eliminate your snoring problem.