How to sleep next to a snorer

They might be your lifelong soulmate, but it’s hard to love a snorer when they keep you awake at night.

Whether they make a loud rumble or a bothersome whistle, snoring is never fun for those within hearing distance. Especially if it’s preventing you from getting the seven to nine hours of sleep that experts say we should aim for each night.

Sleep is the one time of the day when you can tune out, relax and enjoy being at peace. There’s nothing better than cuddling up beside your partner or with a book to wind down. But if their snoring is disrupting your sleep pattern, it can be a time you dread.

Unfortunately, Australians aren’t getting enough sleep as it is. A study from the Australasian Sleep Association showed that around one-third of Australian adults regularly suffer sleep troubles. Whether that’s feeling groggy and unrefreshed on waking or waking up frequently throughout the night. In a recent survey, more than 60 per cent of respondents said they were disturbed by their partner’s snoring.

Some suggest you overlook snoring as a minor nuisance and remind yourself that breathing is natural and necessary, and the snoring means your loved one is breathing … If only it was that simple.

Thankfully, there are a few tips and tricks that you can try to lessen or silence the noise. Stephanie Romiszewski is a sleep physiologist and here she offers some handy tips that could be the answer to any nocturnal woes.

What causes snoring?

Temporary factors
Snoring can be induced by temporary factors such as sedative use, consumption of alcohol, excessive smoking, seasonal allergies, swollen tonsils, sleeping position and a cold or flu.

Removing these temporary causes where possible may solve the problem and restore quiet to the bedroom once again.

Structural factors
These are unfortunately more long term and include excessive weight around the neck and the shape of the palate, nose and jaw.

What happens when we snore?

While there are different causes of snoring, it is quite common – with around 40 per cent of adults snoring regularly around the globe.

Snoring occurs when air is restricted through the nose or throat. The muscles in the upper airway relax when we are lying down and the shuddering sound is caused by the surrounding tissue vibrating when air is breathed in and out.

If the muscles relax too much, a blockage can occur in the airway, causing the snorer to choke or cough to clear it and restart breathing. This is known as sleep apnoea and can be dangerous.

Tips the snorer can try

See a doctor or sleep specialist
It’s always good to check that the snoring is not a symptom of an underlying condition.

Adjust their sleeping position
Sometimes, simply shifting your partner’s sleeping position can make all the difference. “Some people who snore tend to sleep on their back, which can make snoring worse, so turn your partner on their side instead,” advises Romiszewski.

Use an adjustable pillow or pile up the pillows
Here’s a simple tip you can try tonight. “If you sleep with a snorer, get them to use an extra pillow for elevation, which can reduce snoring,” says Romiszewski.

Skip the nightcap
Having a glass of wine with dinner might seem like a good idea at the time, but it can actually make your partner’s snoring worse during the night. Romiszewski says: “Alcohol or other sedatives and depressants really don’t help – the more your muscles relax, the more it can lead to snoring.”

Get a weight loss plan in place
Obesity and being overweight can increase the risk of many serious health problems, but it can also make snoring worse. “Encourage your partner to lose some weight if needed,” says Romiszewski. “Carrying extra weight around the neck area can lead to snoring, because of the pressure that rests on the throat.”

Play midnight tennis. “Get your partner to try the tennis ball technique,” our sleep expert suggests. This is a sleep technique that involves placing a tennis ball in a T-shirt pocket. “Get your partner to put the T-shirt on backwards right before bed, as this will encourage your partner to learn to sleep on their side during the night – rather than their back.”

Tips that you can try

Give them a poke
If you’ve been enduring night after night of low-frequency rumbling, you probably won’t need any encouragement. “Don’t poke them too hard though,” warns Romiszewski. “Just do it gently – this will get them out of their snoring state, without interrupting their sleep too much.”

Increase the humidity level
Snoring can be caused or exacerbated by dryness. Investing in a humidifier can help, or recommend the snorer take a warm shower before sleeping to soothe the airways.

Use earplugs
Perhaps the easiest solution of them all, if it works for you. Try different earplugs to find a pair that works for you, ensure you clean them regularly to avoid infection and never push them too far into your ear.

Fall asleep earlier
Try hopping into bed a half hour or so earlier than your snoring companion. If you can drift off before the noise, you may be able to get a good night’s sleep.

Divide and conquer
Finally, if you need to, sleep in separate bedrooms. “It’s the social norm that couples should sleep together, but we weren’t made to sleep in someone else’s sleeping pattern,” says Romiszewski. “In the worst-case scenario, don’t be ashamed to sleep in the spare bedroom if you need to – you will have a good night’s rest and potentially fewer arguments the day after.”

Do you sleep next to a snoring spouse? Or snore yourself? Have you found any tips that work for you?

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Related articles:
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The stigma about separate beds
Taking the snore out of snoozing

Written by Ellie Baxter

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