Dealing with a snoring partner

How do you deal with a snoring partner? 

Living with a partner who snores is no picnic. Too many sleepless nights can start to take their toll on your relationship and affect your day-to-day life. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help your partner control their snoring so you can both get back to enjoying a good night’s sleep.

What causes snoring? 

Snoring happens when the soft tissues in your mouth, nose, and throat vibrate as air passes over them. This vibration gets worse when the airways are constricted (a blocked nose, for example). The muscles that normally stop this tissue from vibrating are relaxed at night. 

Did you know there are different types of snorers? Before tackling the problem, it helps to identify what kind of snoring your partner is experiencing. 

  • Nose snorers – if your partner is suffering from nose snoring, it’s because they have a blockage in one or both of their nasal passages. 
  • Mouth snorers – this type of snoring is caused by the mouth falling open when the jaw relaxes during sleep. 
  • Tongue snorers – in some people, the tongue can drop to the back of the mouth and partially obstruct the throat. 

It’s possible for a combination of these things to be the problem – this is known as multifactorial snoring. To help you recognise the type of snoring your partner is experiencing, the British Snoring and Sleep Apnoea Association (BSSAA) has created this online interactive snore test

Woman snoring next to partner

Do men snore more than women? 

It’s well-known that men snore more than women. According to the Snore Lab, 40% of adult men snore compared with only 24% of women. 

Anatomy plays a big part in this. For one thing, the male voicebox sits lower down in the throat, so there is more space for the air to reverberate. 

Moreover, men are more prone to suffering from an obstruction in their airways because they have a lot of unsupported soft tissue that can get in the way when their muscles relax. 

How to stop my partner snoring 

There is no cure for snoring, but there are several ways you can control it. 

1. Anti-snoring devices 

For every type of snorer, there is an anti-snoring product or device out there that can help. 

Nasal strips are great for nose-based snorers. They are designed to open the nasal passages and allow the wearer to breathe more easily at night. Nasal spray and dilators have a similar effect by opening up the airways. 

For mouth snorers, a chin strap can help to keep the mouth closed at night, so air cannot pass through it. Your partner may also benefit from a vestibular shield. This device is worn in the mouth, forcing the wearer to breathe through the nose. 

Tongue-based snorers could benefit from using a mandibular advancement device (MAD) that pushes the lower jaw (mandible) forward. This pulls the tongue away from the back of the throat and opens the airways. 

2. Lifestyle changes 

Too much alcohol, smoking, and being overweight can make snoring worse. To remedy this, you could suggest that your partner make some changes to their lifestyle. This could include losing weight or reducing their alcohol intake, especially before bed. 

Sleeping pills can also cause snoring, as can medication like lorazepam and diazepam (Valium), which relax the muscles. If medication is contributing to the problem, ask your GP if there are any alternatives you could try. 

3. Sleeping position 

Your partner’s sleeping position can affect how much and how often they snore. Making some simple changes may improve the situation.   

  • Suggest they sleep on their side. You’re more likely to snore sleeping on your back because this position constricts the airways.
  • Invest in an adjustable bed that moves up and down, or use pillows to raise your partner’s head, so it’s above the rest of their body. 

If your partner starts on their side and then rolls over during the night, try stitching a tennis ball into their sleepwear to make it uncomfortable for them to sleep on their back. 

Some people also find that sleeping with a body pillow can help them stay in position. 

Man sleeping on his side

Is snoring serious? 

Snoring is rarely caused by anything serious, but in some cases, it can be a symptom of sleep apnoea (where your breathing stops and starts while you’re sleeping). This is a serious condition that can lead to further problems if it’s left untreated. 

The NHS recommends contacting your GP if: 

  • Your partner’s snoring is affecting both your lives 
  • Making lifestyle changes hasn’t improved the situation 
  • They make gasping or choking noises while they sleep or feel sleepy during the day (these are signs of sleep apnoea). 

Typically, sleep apnoea is treated with a CPAP machine that pumps air into a mask worn over the mouth and nose during sleep to keep the airways open. 

How to cope with your partner snoring

Living with a partner that snores isn’t easy – it puts pressure on you both, and being deprived of a good night’s sleep can affect your relationships and day-to-day life. 

If you have a spare room bed, spend a few nights sleeping on your own to catch up on the sleep you’ve missed. 

Lots of couples successfully sleep in different rooms, but if you’d rather not sleep apart from your partner, try going to bed earlier. If you’re already asleep when they come to bed, then you’re less likely to hear them snoring. 

You could also invest in earplugs to block out the sound of your partner’s snoring.  

Don’t be afraid to give your partner a gentle nudge in the middle of the night if they roll onto their back. Sometimes all they need is a push in the right direction to move back to a side-sleeping position. 

Dealing with a snoring partner – the bottom line 

Snoring is a common problem, so thankfully, a lot is already known about how to treat it. There are lots of things your partner can try to control their snoring, from anti-snoring aids to making lifestyle changes and changing their sleeping position.  

If all that fails, don’t be afraid to sleep in another room or stick in a pair of earplugs. After all, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.