Cope with a Snoring Partner

Edited by Sarah Maloney, Maria, Eng, Alma

For many couples, the bedroom is a symbol of the evolution of their alliance and the bed a report on the state of the partnership. In good times, you might lie together in bed and laugh about your days, share intimacy and exchange pleasure, hands intertwined and legs interlaced feeding each other chocolate covered strawberries and sighing at the utter and complete beauty that is your togetherness.

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Someday you may share your bed with crying babies and steal half hour naps together while they sleep. You may be awoken by toddlers at 5 am and spend nights too exhausted to do anything together except sleep. You might spend hours in the middle of the night waiting to hear the door close and know your teenagers are home safe or wait to hear your partner arrive home after a late night of work, nestle yourself back into the arms of each other and sleep soundly. Your bed is where your family begins and where partnerships often grow; it is where you will share the highlights, the lowlights and all the in times in between.

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If you are a part of two-thirds of Canadians, at some point you may find yourself lying next to your partner at 3 am trying to resist the urge to kick them, nudge them, cover their head with a pillow or segregate them to another room. This is not a nocturnal response to an unfaithful partner, but a response instead to a co-sleeping challenge many couples face that is more disruptive than any newborn, more bothersome than a toddler at 5 am and more mentally maddening than a teenager.

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Sleep Facts

The National Sleep Foundation[1] reports that snoring affects approximately 90 million American adults 37 million on a regular basis. The Public Health Agency of Canada[2] reports as much as 30 percent of people aged thirty and above are snorers. The proportion rises to 40 percent when it comes to middle-aged people, while two-thirds of all partnered adults say that their partner snores. That's a lot of North American households moving and shaking with nasal nocturnal vibrations and an awful lot of unhappy, agitated sleep deprived partnerships. Although sleeping with a snoring partner can be exasperating there are some strategies that can help. This article will show you how to cope with a snoring partner.

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Steps and Strategies

Like most challenges that arise in a marriage or partnership, there is no one-sided quick fix answer. Dealing with snoring must be team tackled and this article will present to you some of the causes of snoring and coping strategies for both you and your partner to try.

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  1. 1
    It's not you, it's me
    .
    If you have been sleeping together for years but have just recently been awakened by your partners snoring, it is possible the snoring has gotten worse or louder. However, it is also just as possible that the non-snorer has recently developed a sleep disorder or ailment that has caused them to be more easily disrupted by the snoring. You may be sleeping lighter or experiencing insomnia. If you expect this might be a part of the challenge you are having, consider trying to sleep in another room and keeping a sleep log, if you identify a change in your sleep pattern, it will make coping with snoring together much easier.
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  2. 2
    No really, it's not your fault
    .
    Sleeping with a snoring partner can take a toll on a partnership. Resentment and anger become heightened when both members are overtired and irritable. Try to remember that your partner is not snoring on purpose and no snoring is normal. Work together to try new strategies and see what works for both of you.
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  3. 3
    Causes
    :
    There are several causes/triggers for snoring and/or increased snoring including:
    • Weight gain.
    • Eating before bed.
    • Alcohol.
    • Sleep Apnea.
    • Allergies or Cold.
    • Sleep deprived.
    • Narrow airway.
    • Deviated Septum.
    • Previous injury to the nose or nasal cavities.
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  4. 4
    Physiologically
    .
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    Snoring is not actually a breathing disorder but a throat disorder. The reflexes that keep your throat open, the muscles in your tongue and the roof of your mouth controlled when you're awake (for obvious reasons; eating, swallowing, complaining about your partner's snoring) relax when you sleep. The thunderous noise you hear coming from even the quietest, soft spoken people when they snore is actually the turbulence caused by the same amount of air moving across the same space made smaller. This makes sense when you look at the causes above. Weight gain can make your airway smaller, alcohol can make your muscles and reflexes even more relaxed, allergies and colds can also make your airway smaller and sleep apnea is a medical condition that partially obstructs the airway during sleep.
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  5. 5
    Identify the cause of the trigger
    :
    Spend a couple nights once awakened by the snorer watching and listening to the snoring. Keep a snore log identifying patterns including what was eaten/drank before bed, sleep position, the length of snoring and breath holding. Pay special attention to sleep apnea, if the snorer is overweight, if the snoring involves a "gasping" for air, if the snorer wakes up still tired sleep apnea may be the culprit and medical intervention (CPAP machine, orthodontics) are required. Discuss your findings with your partner.
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  6. 6
    Get Help
    .
    After you have discussed your findings, you should have some idea of the cause. Next, you want to sit down together and decide on a treatment plan. If the snoring is louder because of environmental factors (i.e. alcohol, eating a big meal before bed, sleeping position, weight gain) you can decide together on a treatment plan you can both agree on. Your treatment plan may include:  
    1. Limiting alcohol and large meals before bed.
    2. Modifying the snorers sleep position. Pillows and special cushions have been designed especially for this function. Some couples find placing a tennis ball under the shirt of the snorer to be helpful for people who snore on their backs when they roll onto their back (and the tennis ball) they find it uncomfortable and switch position. Sleep position can be modified, however, it is important the snorer is not feeling discomfort. Discuss together daily how you both feel and are sleeping.
    3. Over the counter nose strips and nasal washes (Neti-Pot) may be beneficial for snorers with allergies or colds. *Work together to create a healthy diet and exercise plan (once approved by your physician). Many couples find that snoring is increased when the snorer reaches a specific weight. Work together to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle. If your sleep log does not disclose environmental factors, a trip to the sleep clinic is in order. The snorer will probably start with a referral from your primary physician and then spend a night in a sleep clinic. The clinic will monitor breathing, snoring and sleeping. After the clinic, the physician will work with both of you to create a treatment plan that works best. This may involve a CPAP machine or orthodontics (mouth guards).
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  7. 7
    Speak up
    .
    During appointments ensure both of you attend and you are both comfortable expressing your concerns or requests. Some couples find some interventions more disruptive than others but there are a lot of options available. Your clinical staff will work together with you to choose an option that works for you both and create a treatment plan that takes your lifestyle and bedroom habits into consideration. Continue to check in with each other daily to see how each other slept and how the treatment plan is working. Modify the plan as necessary while maintaining communication with your healthcare provider(s).
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  8. 8
    Divide
    .
    If you have visited your healthcare provider and/or if the factors are environmental and you are unable to agree upon a treatment plan, you may want to consider separate rooms. There are a lot of couples who have happily been partners for years that prefer sleeping separately. Work together to create an arrangement that you both find acceptable and that doesn't impact those activities you like to do together in bed (watching T.V., reading, talking at the end of the day, sex). If both parties agree, this is a perfectly acceptable way to get better sleep and enhance your partnership.
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  9. 9
    Stay Positive
    .
    It may seem like a lot of work just to get good nights sleep together, but remember this is a partnership, work together and stay positive there are a lot of treatment options out there and resolving a snoring challenge will be beneficial to both of you and your relationship. It may take some time and you may try a lot of different methods while you search for the treatment plan that works for you but keep communication open and express how you are feeling with each other. If you're feeling tired or irritable, if you find yourself waking up angry at your snoring partner it might be time to take a night off and sleep in another room. When you wake up refreshed you can discuss the next steps together.
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  10. 10
    Remember, the intent in coping with snoring is to enhance your partnership awake through a better night sleep for both of you
    .
    There are a lot of options out there; together you can find the plan that works for both of you. Working together, nocturnal bliss and morning, happiness is possible.
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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Health & Wellness | Relationships

Recent edits by: Eng, Maria, Sarah Maloney

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