When your partner snores, it can be incredibly frustrating and draining for both of you. The snorer's poor-quality sleep and the constant sound of a motorcycle gang can be disruptive, leading to sleep deprivation for both partners kept awake throughout the night by the loud snoring.
Snoring is common—around half of us adults snore occasionally. It's more common in men, and snoring typically worsens with age. Thankfully, there are a few simple strategies to help you improve your quality and quantity of ZZZs, even when your bedmate's sleep is as disruptive as a freight train.
Important note: If your partner's snoring is chronic or getting worse, it could point to an underlying health issue like sleep apnoea. If you believe this is the case, please encourage them to talk to a healthcare professional for assessment and treatment if needed.
There are two questions we need to answer here:
"How do I get my partner to stop snoring?"
"How can I protect my precious sleep, even if my partner snores?"
Let's first look at ways to tackle the issue of your partner's snoring.
Back sleepers are more likely to snore than side sleepers, this is due to how the tongue tilts when we are asleep, and more likely to obstruct when on your back. If your partner generally sleeps on their back, try to get them to fall asleep on their side instead – you may need to ‘engineer’ a pillow structure to support them while they train themselves to side sleep. The Go Pillow by Hyoumankind will help your partner sleep on their side with the benefit of having their head and spine aligned too.
Anti-snoring Devices (and How They Work)
Nasal dilators are designed to improve airflow and, therefore, reduce snoring. External nasal dilators are small, flexible strips that stick to the outside of the nose, pulling outward slightly and gently opening the nasal passages. An internal nasal dilator operates from the inside by pushing outward. Both types can reduce snoring, so let your partner find the one they feel most comfortable with and track any reductions in snoring frequency and volume.
A variety of anti-snoring mouthpieces are available but may take more getting used to, as they're larger and stay in the mouth all night. A MAD ("mandibular advancement device") is an anti-snoring mouthguard that's fitted and adjusted to move the lower jaw forward slightly. A TRD (tongue retaining device), aka TSD (tongue stabilising device), fits between the teeth and uses gentle suction to prevent the tongue from falling back toward the throat.
Besides reducing snoring, these devices may help with mild OSA (obstructive sleep apnoea). We don't recommend you or your partner self-diagnose sleep apnoea, so please only use a dental device for sleep apnoea with your doctor's approval or advice.
An Anti-snoring Workout
Mouth and breathing exercises, done consistently a few times a day, can help prevent snoring.
- Place the tip of the tongue against the back of the top front teeth and slide the tongue back toward the throat along the roof of the mouth. Work on keeping this movement slow and controlled. Repeat 5-10 times to strengthen tongue and throat muscles.
- To increase tongue strength, stick it out as far as it will go and then try to touch the chin with the tongue while looking up. Hold for 10 seconds, gradually increasing the duration to keep it challenging. Repeat 5 times.
- Stick your entire tongue against the roof of the mouth and hold this position for 10 seconds. Then push the tongue flat against the floor of the mouth with the tip against the lower front teeth and hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat each exercise at least 5 times to tone and strengthen the tongue and soft palate.
- Breathing through the nose stabilises the airway during sleep. Close the mouth and relax the jaw, then breathe in through the nose. Close off one nostril using a finger or knuckle and breathe out gently through the open nostril. Alternating between nostrils, repeat this 10 times.
The Body Weight Influence
If your partner is on the heavier side, they may be more likely to snore and potentially develop obstructive sleep apnoea. While it's not an immediate fix, experts recommend weight loss as a key treatment option to try for snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea in people who are overweight or obese. If this applies to your partner, consider supporting them in their efforts to reduce body weight. Research has found that weight loss in people with a high body mass index reduces both snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea symptoms. Always approach weight loss in a healthy way and encourage your partner to seek professional advice if needed.
While you both work on reducing your partner's snoring, there are a couple of things you can do to get through the night.
Install a Muffler
One of the easiest and quickest solutions is to wear earplugs to dampen the sound of "sawing wood" next to you. You can opt for inexpensive soft foam earplugs from the pharmacy or spend a bit more on silicone noise-reducing earplugs made for people who spend a lot of time in noisy environments, like musicians. If you don't like the feeling of something inserted into your ear, try noise-cancelling headphones. New technology is enabling removable speakers to be built into soft headbands, so you don't have to compromise your preferred sleeping position to get a little peace and quiet.
White Noise, Not White Knuckle
Some online advice suggests "not focusing on the sound." Rather than trying to white-knuckle your way through the night using sheer force of will, consider using a white noise machine or app to even out the sound.
Take a Break
As a temporary measure, you may want to try sleeping in a different space from your partner. It's important that during this time, you both work together on a plan to reduce their snoring and its health impacts on both of you so you can get back into travelling "cuddle class." The couple who dreams together, stays together!
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