13 Nov 2017

How to Deal with a Snoring Spouse

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 to wind down after another long day…only to find that they begin to snore and keep you awake.

The constant vibrating noise which comes every time they breathe in and out throughout the night is very disruptive to both your sleep and theirs. While some couples may overlook it as a minor nuisance or suffer in silence (or lack thereof!), for most partners, it’s not that simple.

Unfortunately, Australians in general aren’t getting enough sleep. Dr Maree Barnes from the Australasian Sleep Association estimates that around one-third of Australian adults suffer regularly from significant problems, don’t feel refreshed upon waking and wake up frequently throughout the night1. In a recent survey, more than 60% of respondents said that they were disturbed by their partner’s snoring2

These statistics are quite alarming, as it is very important for your health to get quality sleep every night. So if you are someone who is having trouble trying to catch a few winks while lying next to a person snoring all night, it’s time to find some solutions.  

Why Is My Partner Snoring So Loudly?

partnersnoreicon.pngWe all love our partners, but sometimes you’ll find yourself trying to sleep through their seriously loud breathing during the night, during the hours when you’re both supposed to be resting comfortably!

It’s common to believe that it is the snorer who suffers, but the effects of snoring impact on everyone in the room. This can be incredibly disruptive night after night. People who sleep next to a person who snores are likely to be fatigued and experience all of the common symptoms that come with sleep deprivation, such as frustration or a lack of concentration, simply because they are being kept awake throughout the night due to a loud partner.

Does this sound like you?

In certain cases, snoring volumes can get so loud that they can cause hearing issues for their partner. It’s not surprising because some snoring can be between 50 and 100 decibels, which is the equivalent to a pneumatic drill3!

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It’s not a pleasant experience for your snoring spouse either! They often have anxiety and embarrassment about sleeping amongst other people when they travel, and feel personally responsible for causing an intimacy breakdown in their relationships by forcing their partners to either deal with their nightly habit or sleep in different rooms.

Thankfully, a little education and a few tips can go a long way in helping you catch more ZZZs even if your bed neighbour sounds like a chainsaw! Learning how to manage this can greatly improve your ongoing quality of sleep and perhaps even save your relationship! 

What Is Happening When They Snore? 

Snoring is not that uncommon. While the causes differ, 40% of normal adults snore regularly, whether they realise it or not4. Many people aren’t even aware of their nightly habit and only discover that they snore when a partner or housemate finally lets them know.

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The sound your partner produces when snoring while asleep occurs when air is restricted either though 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 the 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 breathing 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 they experience daytime fatigue, irritability, headaches and numerous other health problems. Additionally, the loud and repetitive sound can impact you each and every night.

What causes their snoring?  

There are two main causes for snoring which are related to temporary and structural factors.

Temporary factors

Snoring can be caused by a whole number of temporary factors, including sedative use, consumption of alcohol, excessive smoking, seasonal allergies, swollen tonsils, sleeping position and the 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. Generally removing these temporary causes may solve the problem and restore quiet to the bedroom once again.

Structural factors

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.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

But most importantly, snoring can be an indicator of a more serious condition, known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition can pose serious risks to your partner’s health due to diabetes, stroke and heart disease1. This will be discussed more, below.

What can you do about their snoring?

There are many reasons as to why people snore as well as a wide range of effective treatments, which is why so it’s important to understand the specific causes behind their situation. Once they understand the reasons behind it, they can find the best solutions specific to their case and get a better night’s sleep- for the good of both them and you.

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Unfortunately,  if your partner’s snoring is left untreated, it can lead to  a lack of focus, daytime drowsiness due to interrupted sleep, low libido, and embarrassment.

Tips to Help Stop the Snoring

The first things to do if you have a snoring spouse is to try to manage the snoring itself so you can try and restore the quality of sleep you both get. 

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 you a little insight into what may be causing the issue in the first place.

Addressing the factors discussed above, 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.

In addition to this, you could try the following:

Sleeping Position

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.

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Different Sleep Schedules

If you know your partner snores, perhaps a simple solution may be to go to bed earlier than they do. This will give you plenty of time to relax and fall asleep in silence before they join you later on.

Background Noise

Playing some gentle sounds, such as white-noise or soft instrumental music may help mask the snoring noise so that you can improve the quality of your sleep.

Soft Earplugs

The removal of the noise may be a temporary solution to the snoring issue. Wearing soft and non-invasive earplugs will help you block out the sound so you can get a better night’s sleep.

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Body Weight

Being overweight is quite a common cause of snoring, as excessive weight can increase the tissue size around the neck and place extra pressure on breathing passageways. Improving their diet in order for them to lose a few kilograms may ease this issue.

Hydration

Having a dry mouth or throat can amplify snoring sounds as the passageways lose their flexibility. Keeping a glass of water conveniently beside the bed will help your partner remain hydrated before and during the night which will soften the passageways and allow easier breathing.

Sleeping Apart

We put this last for a reason. While it’s never 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. Just don’t forget to make alternative times for intimacy.

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What else can you do to stop snoring?

Since we wrote this article, we have found that many people are asking for advice about snoring. If you or your partner have snoring issues, we have actually got even more information about snoring, and what you can do about it. To find out more, you can read our dedicated article on how to stop snoring.


When Should You Go See A Doctor?

It’s easy to overlook snoring because people often underestimate how serious it can be. If the above tips and tricks are simply not working and you’re noticing that your partner’s snoring is just not improving, it’s time to book a visit in to see your Doctor or sleep professional.

Loud and reoccurring snoring may be an indication of other problems that your Doctor may need to diagnose. If you hear your partner snorting or gasping for air frequently throughout the night, it could mean they have Obstructive Sleep Apena.

People who suffer from 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, take in the oxygen they need, and resume breathing. This happens over and over again 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 of sleep.

When left untreated, this condition can also lead to an increase in risk of suffering from depressed moods, car accidents and injury.

At your appointment, your Doctor or sleep professional will ask you both several questions about your sleeping habits and encourage you to take a home sleep test or test at a sleep clinic to monitor their snoring habits and investigate their condition further.  This is the most accurate way of determining the right solution for your loved one, so you can both rest at ease.

The Eight Ways To Improve Your Sleep

How do we get the right amount of quality sleep each night? If you and your partner are experiencing problems with sleeping due to snoring, we have created a free eBook, called the 8 Ways To Sleep Better Tonight, which explains the eight best ways to improve your sleep in order to keep your energy levels high and your body healthy.

Understanding Your Sleep - ResSleep

Book A Sleep Test

You may wish to refer them to undertake a convenient sleep test to better understand how to improve their restful state and overall health.

To talk to someone about your current sleep issues, find out more about the sleep test, or discuss the results of your sleep test:

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References:

[1] The Sydney Morning Herald. Why Australians aren’t getting enough sleep. http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellbeing/waking-up-is-hard-to-do-why-australians-arent-getting-enough-sleep-20161201-gt1k9y.html. Accessed 24 October, 2017.

[2] News.com.au. More couples roaring over nightly snoring. http://www.news.com.au/national/nsw-act/more-couples-roaring-over-nightly-snoring/news-story/29faae9e38a27150cdbd0857921b56e6?sv=7de7683ac53498ec2e1a6b17e21e044. Accessed 24 October 2017

[3] Health465. The Top Ten Facts On Snoring. http://health465.com.au/articles/sleep/top-10-facts-on-snoring. Accessed 24 October 2017.

[4] Ohayon MM et al. Snoring and breathing pauses during sleep: telephone interview survey of a United Kingdom population sample. BMJ. 1997;314:860–3.

[5] Better Health Victorian Government. Sleep Apnoea. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sleep-apnoea. Accessed 24 October 2017