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How to stop snoring

Some 37 million Americans snore, making grunting, whistling, choking, snorting and/or chain sawlike sounds on a regular basis, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

The bothersome noises occur when the airway narrows or is partly blocked during sleep, often thanks to nasal congestion, floppy tissue, alcohol or enlarged tonsils, explains Consumer Reports.

Your snoring can not only ruin your partner's shut-eye but also is a red flag for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is marked by noisy stops and starts in breathing during sleep, and hikes risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension. And 34 percent of men and 19 percent of women who snore routinely have OSA or are at risk for it, says the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Consumer Reports offers this advice on how to stop snoring -- for yourself or for the person you share a bed with.

Start With Lifestyle Steps

-- Ease a stuffy nose. Over-the-counter nasal strips "may help keep nasal passageways open," says Romy Hoque, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. You can also rinse your nose with an over-the-counter saline solution or stand in a steamy shower.

-- Elevate your head. You can buy a special pillow to lift your chin and keep your tongue from blocking the back of your throat as you sleep. Any wedge-shaped pillow will do, Hoque says.

-- Sleep on your side. To keep from rolling onto your back during the night, which triggers snoring, place a body or bolster pillow against your back.

-- Avoid alcohol for four hours before bed. Alcohol relaxes your airway muscles, constricting airflow.

-- Quit smoking. Tobacco smoke can irritate throat membranes.

-- Lose excess weight. "Fat around the neck compresses the upper airway and impedes airflow," says Raj Dasgupta, M.D., assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. In fact, OSA has been associated with a neck circumference greater than 17 inches in men and greater than 16 inches in women.

Try Exercises to Strengthen Your Mouth and Tongue

Snoring occurs when soft tissue in your throat partially blocks the airway, and airflow causes the tissue to vibrate, producing the telltale noise. Some research suggests that strengthening the mouth and tongue may help prevent snoring.

Consumer Reports suggests trying these exercises (perform each 20 times):

-- Exercise 1: Push the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth and slide the tongue backward.

-- Exercise 2: Suck the tongue upward against the roof of the mouth and press the entire tongue against the roof of the mouth.

-- Exercise 3: Force the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue in contact with the bottom front teeth.

-- Exercise 4: Elevate the soft palate (the back of the roof of the mouth) and the uvula (the fleshy protrusion that hangs from the soft palate) while making the vowel sound "A."

To learn more, visit ConsumerReports.org

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How to avoid being gouged when buying eyeglasses

For the approximately 64 percent of Americans who wear them, prescription eyeglasses are part medical device and part fashion accessory. But when it comes to buying them, the choices -- and the trade-offs -- can be overwhelming.

Consumer Reports surveyed more than 91,000 readers and also shopped for glasses themselves, online and in walk-in stores, to discover the pros and cons of different vendors. Here's what they learned:

-- Doctors' offices and independent eyeglass shops. Nearly 40 percent of survey respondents bought their glasses from one of these sources. They gave these sellers high marks for lens and frame fitting, employee knowledge and follow-up service. But frames and lenses tended to cost more than elsewhere: Readers shelled out a median of around $400, two to three times what you might pay online or at a discount store.

-- Major eyewear chains. Since they have many locations, buying eyeglasses at eyeglass chains can be convenient. Consumer Reports' readers reported good follow-up service from most chains, too. But in other areas, survey ratings varied depending on the company.

-- Warby Parker and Zenni Optical. Each of these stores sells only its own brand of glasses. Warby Parker retails both online and in brick-and-mortar locations in 18 states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada. In the seven years since it launched, Warby Parker has become a major player, offering glasses with single-vision lenses for $95, including an anti-reflective coating. But if you order progressive lenses, those prices can rocket to nearly $300 -- far more than the prices Consumer Reports found at some other retailers.

As for all-online retailer Zenni Optical, you can try on frames only virtually, by uploading a photo of yourself. And it, too, has a 30-day warranty. Still, Zenni's frames with basic single-vision lenses start at less than $10, and upgrading to progressives begins at just $28. Survey respondents who bought from Zenni spent a median of just $69 for a complete pair of glasses, making them the survey's lowest-cost retailer.

-- Large discount chains. Costco and Wal-Mart are low-cost one-stop spots for buying eyeglasses where you can do everything from having your eyes examined to getting your finished glasses adjusted for fit. Frames can be inexpensive at these stores. At Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, Consumer Reports found basic, plastic progressive lenses for as little as $79. Costco charges $130 for high-definition progressive lenses, which, as with all Costco lenses, include an anti-reflective coating. That's about half what you'd pay at many walk-in stores. But if you need basic, plastic single-vision lenses, you can pay as little as $29 at Wal-Mart, about half as much as at Costco.

-- Online retailers. While only about 5 percent of respondents bought their glasses online, nearly twice as many browsed online before purchasing at a walk-in store. Even if you don't plan to buy from a website, the price information you get might help you negotiate your way to a discount from a walk-in store.

To learn more, visit ConsumerReports.org

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