Sleep is one of the most enjoyable parts of life, and there's nothing nicer than snuggling up next to your partner to wind down after a busy day. But it's not so nice when they begin to snore, keeping you awake.
By understanding snoring and its effects, you and your partner can work out the best solution and you’ll be able to once again enjoy silent nights full of restful sleep.
Nothing is more disruptive to your sleep than the constant vibrating noise that comes every time your partner breathes in and out throughout the night. While some couples may overlook it as a minor nuisance, for most of us, it's not that easy.
So if you’re trying to catch a few ZZZs next to a person who’s snoring all night, it's time to find some solutions.
No matter how much you love your partner, snoring can be a thoroughly frustrating experience – the snorer suffers from poor quality sleep, while you struggle to nod off against the backdrop of constant noise. This can be incredibly disruptive. If you sleep next to someone who snores, you’re likely to wake up feeling fatigued and experience the common symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as irritation, or lack of concentration – simply because the snoring is keeping you awake.
For some people, snoring gets so loud that it has the potential to cause hearing issues for their partner. It's not surprising, because some snores can reach up to 80 decibels, which is the equivalent to a jack hammer or motorcycle.1
It's no fun for the snorer either! They may feel anxious and embarrassed when they sleep amongst other people when they travel. They may also feel personally responsible for causing an intimacy problem in your relationship by forcing you to sleep apart from them.
Thankfully, a few tips and a little education can go a long way in helping you catch more ZZZs even if your bed neighbour is snoring loud enough to wake the dead.
Learning how to manage snoring can greatly improve sleep quality so you and your partner can both awaken refreshed.
Snoring isn’t uncommon. Approximately 50% of adults snore on occasion, while around 25% of us are actually routine snorers. It’s also more common in men. Like many health problems, snoring tends to get worse with age.2
The sound your partner produces when snoring occurs when air is restricted either through their nose or in their throat. When lying down, the muscles in their upper airway relax which creates what is known as 'airflow turbulence'.
When air is breathed in and out, the surrounding tissue vibrates, causing that familiar shuddering sound. If the muscles relax too much, they can cause a complete blockage in the airway, which stops the breath altogether, causing them to choke or cough to clear it.
Unfortunately, these subconscious responses can lead to disruptions in their sleep patterns and overall sleep quality, not to mention yours too. If snoring continues night after night, the effects can get quite serious. You may find that your partner experiences daytime fatigue, irritability, headaches and other health problems. Additionally, the loud and repetitive sound can affect you each and every night too.
There are two main causes for snoring: temporary and structural factors.
Snoring can be caused by a range of temporary factors, including sedative use, consumption of alcohol, excessive smoking, seasonal allergies, swollen tonsils, sleeping on their back and having a cold or flu. These factors occur for a short time and are not permanent.
For example, smoking can inflame airways, pollen may cause an allergic reaction, while alcohol and medication can relax the muscles within the throat, all of which restricts airflow.
Often, addressing temporary causes of snoring can solve the problem and restore quiet to the bedroom once again.
Structural factors are more long-term, and include excessive weight around the neck and the shape of their palate, nose and jaw.
For example, the nasal passages may be blocked due to polyp growth or a structural abnormality, or there may be irregularities with the soft palate or muscle tone within the throat which makes breathing while sleeping difficult.
Importantly, snoring may be an indicator of a more serious condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea. Over the long term, this condition can pose serious risks to your partner's health by increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.3
There are many reasons why people snore as well as a wide range of effective treatments, which is why it’s so important to understand the specific cause of their snoring.
Once the cause of their snoring is solved, you may both get a better night's sleep.
Unfortunately, there can be other medical consequences for your partner if their snoring is left untreated, including a lack of focus, daytime drowsiness due to interrupted sleep, low libido, and embarrassment.
However, if snoring is related to sleep apnea, then there can be a potential risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke.
The first thing to ask yourself is: how long have you noticed them snoring? Is it only recent or has it been happening for a while? Examining their habits may offer insight into what may be causing the issue. Our free Sleep Diary offers a system that can enable you or your partner to log sleep-related behaviours over a period of 7 days, which may give a clearer picture of the potential issues.
Read on to get a good idea of the factors that might be causing your partner’s snoring. Successfully addressing these factors can greatly help your partner overcome their nightly snoring. For example, reducing their consumption of alcohol or cigarettes, especially at night, can go a long way in ruling those causes out.
Being overweight is quite a common cause of snoring, as excessive weight can increase the amount of tissue around the neck and place extra pressure on breathing passages. A combination of improved diet and exercise can help shed a few kilos, which may be sufficient to ease this issue.
If your snoring partner sleeps on their back, you can try using a pillow to elevate their head or turn them onto their side. These positions place them more at an angle and help open the airways as they sleep, reducing the vibrations in their throat.
Having a dry mouth or throat can amplify snoring sounds as the passageways lose their flexibility. Try keeping a glass of water beside the bed to encourage your partner to remain hydrated before and during the night. This can soften the passageways and allow easier breathing.
Playing some gentle sounds, such as white noise, pink noise, environmental sounds or soft music may help mask the snoring noise so that you can improve the quality of your sleep.
If you know your partner snores, perhaps a simple solution may be to go to bed earlier than they do. This will give you time to relax and fall asleep in silence before they join you later on.
Blocking the noise may be a temporary solution to the snoring issue. Wearing soft and non-invasive earplugs will help you muffle the sound so you can get a better night's sleep.
While it may not be desirable for partners to sleep apart, especially over longer periods of time, sleeping in different rooms during the night can help you get some relief. But just remember to make time for intimacy!
Snoring is often overlooked because people underestimate how serious it can be. If the above remedies are just not working and you're noticing that your partner's snoring is getting worse and not better, it's time to recommend that they have a home sleep test.
Habitually loud snoring can indicate that something may be seriously wrong. If you hear your partner snorting or gasping for air frequently throughout the night, it could mean they have obstructive sleep apnea.
People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea have a chronic condition of restricted airways, meaning that they snore frequently. Unfortunately, their snoring is so severe that they actually stop breathing for a few seconds at a time throughout the night, causing them to briefly wake up with a choke or gasp, take in the oxygen they need, and resume breathing. This happens repeatedly all night, often without them even realising.
Besides your personal discomfort from the noise, waking up like this is quite stressful on their body and not conducive to a restful night’s sleep. Many people with sleep apnea may also have high blood pressure3 and other related conditions, so if you suspect your partner has sleep apnea, order a home sleep test to find out for sure whether they have sleep apnea.
The basic home sleep test is a simple DIY kit that will be sent to you through the mail. It will enable your partner to test their sleep in the comfort of their own home, and send the results back for professional analysis.
However, if your partner isn’t ready to take a home sleep test at this stage, you might find it easier to persuade them to use our online sleep assessment first, before considering other steps.
Eliminate snoring from your bedroom and you’ll both sleep more soundly – and awake your best!
Our online sleep assessment will ask your partner a series of simple questions designed to help them understand whether their snoring is a possible sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
You can access the Sleep Assessment here:
ResMed is a global leader in sleep technology that has its origins right here in Australia. Our goal is to provide people with the means to awaken their best and enjoy healthier lives by promoting good sleep habits and creating awareness for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
https://www.southerncross.co.nz/group/medical-library/snoring-causes-treatment-surgery . accessed 1 July 2019.
https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea accessed 1 July 2019.
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