You nestle into bed and tuck yourself under the covers, ready to enjoy some much-needed sleep. After a few minutes of winding down, your mind relaxes and you begin drifting into slumber. Suddenly, your significant other lets out a thunderous snort, startling you awake. Back to square one.
If you relate to this scenario, you understand the frustration that comes from sharing a bed with a major snorer. Night after night, you struggle to fall asleep—and when you finally do, you still wake up throughout the night from loud snorts. How can you stop this madness? How do you silence the cacophony of snores?
We turned to the nation’s top sleep specialists for advice on how you should deal with a partner who snores and learned that snoring is more than an annoying habit; in fact, it could indicate a bigger health issue.
The dangers of sleep apnea
Dr. Joseph Krainin, Chief Medical Advisor for SoClean, the CPAP sanitizing device company, and the founder of Singular Sleep, points out that snoring is one of the most prevalent symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder involving pauses in breath during sleep.
“While many of us accept snoring as a common nuisance, it should not be taken so lightly. Chronic snoring may be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a potentially dangerous medical condition,” says Dr. Krainin. “Not only does sleep apnea affect quality of life, it can cause or worsen many medical problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, irregular heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation, stroke, and depression.”
He recommends that people get tested for sleep apnea if they experience any of these conditions:
- Frequent awakenings during the night
- Snoring while sleeping
- Feeling unrefreshed after a full night’s sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
- Waking up gasping, coughing, or choking
- If you have any other medical issues such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, depression, or irregular heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation
Snoring could be contagious?
As you can see, snoring isn’t something to take lightly. Even worse, snoring can be passed on to the other partner. Dr. Murray Grossan, board-certified in otolaryngology, sees this all the time with his patients. When one partner snores, the non-snoring partner ends up sleeping poorly and wakes up tired, making them more likely to make unhealthy food choices throughout the day. Eventually, the non-snoring partner gains weight, develops fat in their throat, and starts to snore as well.
Time to take action
For you and your partner’s health, confront your partner about their snoring and explain that you’re coming from a place of genuine concern, not irritation. After all, you want them to be healthy and well-rested, don’t you? Take initiative and implement these tips that can help alleviate your partner’s snoring—so you can both experience more restful nights and refreshed mornings.
1. Encourage your partner to transition into a side sleeper.
Bad news for back sleepers: this position makes snoring worse. According to Dr. Krainin, “When you sleep on your back, gravity pushes your soft palate further down, blocking more of your airway and leading to more frequent and loud snoring and, potentially, abnormal breathing episodes such as hypopneas (reduced breathing) and apneas (complete cessation of breathing).”
Sleeping on your side is the best position to reduce snoring. It might take them a while to get used to it, but it’ll allow both of you to sleep better. If it’s hard for them to transition, try getting them a body pillow. It encourages side sleeping and provides full body support.
2. Eat a more balanced diet, together.
For a more holistic approach to reduce snoring, Dr. Eunice Deane, DC, advises her clients to address its root causes: carbohydrate intolerance and inflammation. She recommends eating less simple carbohydrates, like sugar, candy, bread, cake, and pasta. Instead, they should eat more vegetables and get adequate, good quality protein in their diet. She stresses the importance of having a balanced blood sugar level.
To combat inflammation, she suggests drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day.
What better way to help your partner out than by joining them? Anyone can benefit from eating a more balanced diet and drinking more water, and your involvement can help keep them motivated and accountable.
3. Challenge them with these throat exercises.
Dr. Grossan recommends doing this eight-minute exercise three times a day to reduce snoring:
- Place your tongue hard against your upper teeth and repeat the vowels (A, E, I, O, U) loudly for a minute.
- Force your tongue against the middle of your hard palate (the front roof of your mouth) and again, repeat the vowels loudly for a minute.
- Force your tongue toward the back of your hard palate and repeat the vowels loudly for a minute.
- Push the tip of the tongue against the hard palate and slide the tongue backward for a minute.
- Lift the entire tongue against the palate repeatedly for a minute.
- Force the back of the tongue against the floor of the mouth while keeping the tip of the tongue against the lower incisor teeth for a minute.
- Elevate the soft palate (the back roof of your mouth) and uvula (the dangly part at the back of your throat) while saying the vowels for a minute.
- Blow up a balloon as forcefully as possible.
He also recommends vibrating the throat muscles through humming and suggests humming “oooommm” or the tune of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Dr. Grossan thinks of these exercises as “throat situps” that reduce fatty tissue in the throat, which lead to less snoring and better sleep.
4. Upgrade your pillows.
Snoring can be caused by sleeping on a pillow that’s not supportive enough. Pillows that tilt your head forward make your breathing patterns worse, as this makes your throat and mouth relax too much.
Pillows that elevate the neck to a neutral level can help widen the upper airway and reduce snoring. Try a shredded memory foam adjustable pillow so you can customize its loft to your perfect level.
5. Prepare them chamomile tea with honey.
Treat your hun with some honey. Since honey has anti-inflammatory properties, it can help reduce the swelling in your partner's throat that obstructs airways. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a nerve and muscle relaxant, which helps ease tense muscles and nerves around the throat, helping you sleep better. Simply brew up a cup of chamomile tea, add a teaspoon of honey, and hand it to your loved one close to their bedtime. Enjoy their smile of appreciation and, perhaps, a good night’s sleep.
6. Invest in some good quality earplugs.
Since snoring won't go away instantly, you can block out their snores in the mean time with a good set of earplugs. While we don't recommend them for long-term use, earplugs will solve the immediate issue at hand so you can get the sleep you need.
7. Last but not least, stay patient and understanding.
No matter how distracting those snores may be, don't lash out at your partner. After all, you love and care about this person. No one sets out to become a snoring machine, so remember that their snores are not a personal attack and can be alleviated with time and effort.
To learn how our pillows can help you get the best sleep of your life, click below: