According to a recently-conducted survey one third of adults say that their sleep problems are directly connected to their spouse keeping them awake or waking them up, and in most cases they’re doing it with their snoring.
Bring up the subject of snoring in a room full of women and you’re likely to find them playing a fatigue-fueled game of “can you top this” with each other, telling stories of the noises emanating from their spouses in the middle of the night. And though snoring may sound funny, it is no laughing matter. Not only is a snoring partner responsible for sleep deprivation that can have profound impacts on cognitive and physical performance, it can have a negative impact on overall health. It can also put the sleep deprived partner at risk of getting into an accident. And that’s just the impact on the person who is listening to the snoring. The snorer themselves is at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder that can have consequences such as cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, diabetes 2, depression and obesity. For both partners, the snoring can lead to poor memory function.
So what’s the answer to sleeping with a snorer? There are a number of solutions that you can turn to, ranging from nasal strips to tennis balls to seeking medical assistance.
Try looking at snoring in a whole new way
We’re putting this one first because it may be the most difficult to swallow. Some sleep experts suggest that you try to find a new way of thinking about the noises emanating from the other side of the bed. Instead of thinking of the sound as disruptive or annoying, try changing your attitude and thinking of it lovingly, as the sound of someone who is very dear to you breathing. As silly as this may seem, it is a tool that works for some. According to Joy Martino, who co-wrote the book, “Sleep Your Fat Away,” it’s an idea that can work. In fact, you can undergo hypnosis to convince yourself that the snoring sound is actually waves on a beach. “Most people like sleeping next to the sound of waves. The snoring also comes in waves. So through hypnosis, you can give people the suggestion that every time they hear their spouse snoring, it lulls them into deeper sleep.”
Now that we’ve tried the approach of fixing you even though the problem isn’t caused by you, let’s take a look at what can be fixed in your snoring spouse. One of the main reasons that people snore is that they are overweight, and if that’s the case in your situation then you may want to encourage your spouse to lose a few pounds. According to Dr. Andrew Westwood, assistant professor of clinical neurology specializing in sleep disorders at Columbia University Medical Center, “some people who snore haven’t always snored – they’ve gained weight and then they start. So if over the last year they’ve gained twenty pounds, then losing that weight is probably going to solve the problem.”
The Tennis Ball Trick
In most cases, when people snore they do so because they’re laying on their back. Rolling them onto their side can be difficult to do but will do the trick, so some people sew a pocket onto the back of the snorer’s sleep shirt and then stuff a tennis ball into the pocket. The discomfort that the tennis ball causes forces them off of their back, and shuts down the snoring.
Nasal strips are a simple and inexpensive solution that often works wonders. They’re small adhesive strips that adhere to the outside of the nose and hold the nasal passages open just enough to let air pass through freely, thus eliminating the noise.
It may sound drastic, but a lot of people have found that the most successful strategy has been to remove themselves from the situation. Rather than wear ear plugs that will prevent them from hearing children crying or an alarm clock ringing in the morning, by simply moving out of the bedroom into a spare room, both partners are able to get the sleep that they need. The problem is that most couples prefer to sleep together.
Show them how bad their problem is
One of the most effective ways of stopping a snorer or getting them to seek help for their problem is to show them exactly how bad their snoring is. Most people don’t believe their spouse when they tell them that their snoring is keeping them up at night. So take out you smart phone or video camera and video tape the sounds that your spouse is making. If you suspect that your partner might have obstructive sleep apnea and their nighttime breathing includes gasping then the result of the video can be even more powerful. It may also be helpful to show a sleep physician exactly how bad the problem is so that they will prescribe a sleep study.
Sleep specialists can help, and may even save your life
If the snoring is bad enough that it is keeping you up, and especially if there is a suspicion that some of the snoring is caused by an obstruction, it is essential that you take your partner for diagnosis by a sleep specialist. In the majority of cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the problem is first brought to light by the observations of the patient’s sleep partner, who is either disrupted or concerned by the sounds emanating from the person who is obstructed. Because obstructive sleep apnea can lead to serious medical issues, taking the time to see a specialist, get diagnosed and get treated can be a life-saving decision.