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How to Sleep With a Snorer

Malena Piper

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Sleeping next to a snorer may affect you more than you realize; one study showed that spouses of snorers woke up an average of 21 times per hour. That’s a lot of times to wake up in one night.

Exhaustion from lack of sleep is not the only way sleeping next to a snorer can affect you. It’s also possible you and the person you sleep next to will have relationship strains. In one study, one-third of couples who reported sleep disturbances due to snoring also reported relationship issues caused by it.

It is important to resolve snoring issues to not only positively impact your sleep, but for the sake of your partner’s sleep and your relationship, as well. In our post, we talk about not only what causes snoring, but ways to manage it, for both the snorer and the person who has to sleep next to them.

What Is Snoring?

Snoring is a common problem, occurring in an estimated 90 million Americans, and is a regular occurrence for 37 million American adults. Snoring happens when the muscles in the roof of your mouth slightly relax. This causes the tissues in the soft palate and throat to vibrate as air moves back and forth, creating a hoarse or harsh sound.

Snoring may continue throughout the night, or be intermittent. If snoring persists through the entire night or if it becomes severe, it may indicate a more significant problem. Snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, which is much more serious and can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. Signs of obstructive sleep apnea include gasping or choking at night, or excessive daytime exhaustion if snoring causes extreme lack of sleep. In this case, you or your partner’s snoring should be treated by a sleep specialist. The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure).

What Causes Snoring

There are many possible causes of snoring, including variations in mouth and sinus anatomy (such as having enlarged tonsils or deviated septum), allergies, obesity, or having a cold. Some possible causes of snoring, such as allergies or having the flu, are only temporary and will go away with time. Others, such as those with structural abnormalities (like having extra floppy tissue that can create more opportunity for vibration) are more prone to snoring. However, even those with atypical mouth or sinus anatomy may still be able to alleviate snoring by following the steps listed below.

How To Help Your Partner Stop Snoring

While there are a few temporary options to help yourself sleep while your partner snores, such as earplugs or even sleeping in another room, these will not resolve the situation entirely. To truly help both you and your snoring partner sleep properly, you need to address the root of the snoring.

There are a variety of options to help put an end to snoring. Below, we talk about the best ways to alleviate snores to get peaceful sleep. You don’t have to sleep in separate rooms just yet!

Use Body Pillows to Promote Side Sleeping

Sleeping on your back has been shown to increase snoring, but switching to side sleeping can help. According to one study, approximately 92 percent of people who suffer from sleep-disordered breathing reported breathing better when they were not sleeping on their backs.

Prop a body pillow behind your partner to prevent them from sleeping on their back. If one body pillow isn’t enough to encourage proper side sleeping, have your partner place body pillows snugly at their sides, or at least the side they tend to roll over onto, to wedge your partner in place and keep them from moving onto their back. Strategically-placed body pillows will provide your partner with soft support to encourage better sleep.

While using body pillows is the most pleasant method for sleeping on your side, some people also have seen success using the “tennis ball method.” Originally made popular in the 1900s, the tennis ball method involves attaching or sewing a tennis ball to the back of the clothing your partner wears to sleep. The tennis ball will keep your partner from laying on their back by making it uncomfortable.

Try Using Basic Snoring Aids

Basic snoring aids like mouthguards and nose dilator strips can be very effective at minimizing snoring. Mouthguards pull your lower jaw down to promote airflow and minimize vibration. Nasal strips work by pulling the nostrils open, again increasing airflow.

Both standard mouthguards and nasal strips are easy to find at your local supermarket. However, you may wish to acquire a custom mouthguard built to the shape of your mouth, as these mouthguards provide the most comfort and protection from teeth grinding. If you’re interested in having a custom mouthguard fitted, we suggest visiting your doctor to learn more about your options.

Elevate Your Partner’s Head

Elevating your partner’s head allows for better airflow by shifting your partner’s tongue and jaw forward. The best way to keep your partner’s head elevated throughout the night is to sleep on an adjustable base. Elevating your head and torso alleviates a constricted airflow, improving snoring.

If there isn’t room for an adjustable bed frame within your budget, a wedge pillow can also serve to elevate your head at night. These pillows silence snoring by keeping you sleeping at an angle, much like adjustable bed frames. However, these are not as ideal, as they lack adjustability.

Clear Nasal Passages For Allergies

If your partner has a stuffy nose or suffers from allergies, have them use a saline solution (such as a Neti pot) before bed to clear their nasal passages. This will encourage airflow to minimize snoring. Saline solutions also clear allergens from deep within your nasal passages, and if allergies are the cause of your partner’s snoring, this may mean you are both able to achieve a quiet night’s sleep.

Keep a clean bedroom to minimize allergens and dust mites. We also recommend keeping your bedroom air moist since dry air can irritate membranes in the nose and throat. A humidifier may help if swollen nasal passages are the cause of your partner’s snoring.

Talk To A Sleep Specialist

If snoring continues to persist after trying the steps above, or if snoring is not just persistent but also severe (causing sleeplessness or other issues); we recommend referring to a doctor or sleep specialist to out rule any possible underlying sleep disorders. They will work with you to come up with a treatment plan. If nothing else has worked, this may be the step you need to finally find deeper sleep for you and your partner.

FAQs

How can my partner’s snoring affect my health?

Due to the chronic nature of being woken up by snoring, you may not be able to experience deep sleep or REM sleep. Both of these are vital stages of sleep for physical and mental health.

A lack of either deep sleep or REM sleep may result in daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. Severe REM sleep deprivation may lead to depression, weight gain, or cardiovascular disease. Remember, your partner’s snoring affects you both, as you may also be having difficulty sleeping. Each of you needs enough sleep to be productive and healthy.

How does snoring affect my partner’s health?

Snoring regularly can interrupt your partner’s sleep cycle and cause a lack of REM sleep. It may also lead to fatigue and irritability, and can put a strain on your relationship.

Lack of sleep from snoring has also been linked to cardiovascular disease, and can even cause a heart attack. This is because, during normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Snoring interrupts this, causing your blood pressure to be elevated for longer periods of time.

Can I just sleep alone?

While sleeping in a separate area from your partner is an option, it is not ideal for many. Most people do not have spare bedrooms readily available, and sleeping on the couch is rarely the desired solution. Sleeping in a different room, however, may work well temporarily to give you a good night’s sleep while working on your partner’s underlying snoring problems.

How do age and gender relate to snoring?

As they grow older, people have a tendency to snore more. This is because as you reach middle age and beyond, muscle tone in your throat diminishes, and your throat becomes narrower. A narrow airway provides conditions that can lead to snoring.

Snoring is also linked to gender; men are more likely to snore because they have narrower airway passages than women. There are other hereditary traits that can contribute to snoring, including having a narrow throat, a deviated septum, a cleft palate, or other certain physical attributes.

Could my partner’s weight be affecting their snoring?

It is a fact that weight has been linked to snoring; poor muscle tone and excess fatty tissue can lead to a narrow airway, often leading to snoring. Even if you are not overweight overall, simply carrying extra fatty tissue around your neck or throat can contribute to snoring.

If you and your partner feel their snoring may be linked to weight, we recommend beginning a diet and exercise regime. Another option is to see their doctor or a nutrition specialist for weight loss recommendations. This may lead to not only potentially helping your partner’s snoring but also their health in general.

Conclusion

Oftentimes, the causes of mild-to-moderate snoring can be improved by following some simple techniques. Some of the easiest and quickest to implement—such as using a body pillow and sleeping on your side—are also the most effective. More complex snoring issues may require the help of a specialist. Improving your partner’s snoring condition will help you both feel more alert and reduce anxiety, and silencing snores also prevents a lack of sleep from straining your relationship.

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