Help with snoring
November 22, 2010 11:23 AM   Subscribe

How do you deal with your partner's snoring?

My partner snores, and I haven't gotten a good night's sleep in a week. I go to sleep okay if I go to bed before him, but I always wake up sometime during the night and can't get back to sleep because his snoring disrupts me. He knows he needs to go to the doctor; this question is about ways for me to cope. Things that I've tried that are not working:

-earplugs. It muffles the snoring, but once I'm awake and worrying about how to go back to sleep, any trace of it is disruptive. Even with the more effective earplugs, I can feel the vibrations and "hear" it.
-sleep medicine. I've only tried melatonin. It gets me to sleep fantastically, but I still wake up between 2am and 4 am.
-sleeping on the couch (we have no second bedroom). This is the best solution so far, but it's a terrible night's sleep and I'm exhausted.
-having my partner sleep on the couch. We've been trading off nights on the couch, and he's exhausted too.
-breathing in time with the snoring. This has worked like magic with past snorers, but my partner's breathing/snoring is irregular (see: above-mentioned need to visit the doctor).
-anti-anxiety breathing exercises. This gets me to where I can start to drop off, but I wake right back up as soon as partner snores.
-physically turning him over. Our size disparity is too great for me to turn over without waking him, and I'd rather not wake him if I can help it.

I'm seeing my therapist tomorrow, and we will be addressing the things I'm stressed out about right now. In addition, as a note, although I am a pretty high-strung anxious person generally, other than this sleep thing, the anxiety is as well-controlled now as it's ever been. My learned coping mechanisms are great--when it's not 3am.

(Anonymous because I haven't cleared this with my partner, and I suspect he will find it embarrassing.)

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (44 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
elbow him in the ribs. seriously. he won't wake up, but will move enough for a break from the snoring. it's also really satisfying in an evil sort of way.
posted by jrishel at 11:28 AM on November 22, 2010

Does he smoke? Husband stopped snoring like a dragon pretty much a week after he stopped smoking.
posted by Tarumba at 11:29 AM on November 22, 2010

My snorer has become so accustomed to me yelling "ROLL OVER" in the middle of the night, that he complies (and thus stops snoring) without ever really waking up. But it took a couple of months of him actually waking up before we made it to that point.

Also, Breathe Right nasal strips and a throat spray made by the same folks work well for him during times when the snoring is consistently extra bad (e.g. during allergy season). YMMV.
posted by somanyamys at 11:30 AM on November 22, 2010

Breathe Right Strips.
posted by morganannie at 11:30 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remind my hubby to take his allergy medicine -- he tends to snore from seasonal allergies, and taking the meds usually clears it up. If not, I also can get him to roll over/reposition without waking him up (a fact that AMAZES his mother, much to my amusement). If your partner is snoring that badly, he's not sleeping that deeply anyway, and asking him to move will make both of you more comfortable.
posted by hms71 at 11:36 AM on November 22, 2010

I think the best solution is for him to see a doctor to figure it out, obviously, but in the meantime he should let you fall asleep first. Assuming it doesn't normally take you hours to get to sleep, it shouldn't be a huge inconvenience for either of you.

I also vote for elbowing him in the side/ribs. It helps, and in my experience it's not enough to wake someone but enough to get them to adjust.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:36 AM on November 22, 2010

Melatonin isn't really meant for someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. You might try soma, it's a prescription, but it's kind of meant for when you pop awake in the middle of the night. Maybe see if you can get a sample and then maybe it, in combination with the other things you're trying, will help. Also, if you haven't slept well for a week, I'd suggest maybe you're beyond the point of being able to help it and you should wake him up.
posted by *s at 11:38 AM on November 22, 2010

Some people sew a tennis ball onto the back of a shirt, so that the snorer can't ever sleep on his back.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oops, I'm sorry. I see that you tried the falling asleep first thing.
posted by two lights above the sea at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2010

Are you somewhere where you've recently turned on the heat? My husband snores when it's dry in the bedroom, and a humidifier helps with the moisture level and acts as a white noise generator. Otherwise a white noise generator may be all you need.
posted by metarkest at 11:40 AM on November 22, 2010

Have you tried putting in the earplugs (and they should be the awesome sort that expand in your ears to fill them, easy to find at target shooting online sites) before you go to bed? That's what I do, and then I never awaken to hear my husband's unbelievably loud snoring. He has been to the doctor, of course. No luck fixing the problem.

The other option, which is not so dreadful as it sounds, is separate bedrooms.
posted by bearwife at 11:40 AM on November 22, 2010

White noise! My wife has a fan next to her head to drown out my snoring.

Breathe-right strips did nothing for my snoring.
posted by callmejay at 11:40 AM on November 22, 2010

Ditto the breathe right strips. For some snorers, it works wonders.
posted by Zed at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2010

Our solution when someone is snoring (usually when one or the other is getting/has a cold) is the nudge. Just a nudge and a "You're snoring, roll over" and it stops enough for the other to get to sleep. We came to this agreement so there would be little/no resentment in the morning.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 11:43 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Get a futon or fold-out couch.

My parents both snore, and a comfortable sleeping surface that someone can retreat to in the middle of the night has saved their marriage.
posted by muddgirl at 11:49 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm you. You're me. Earplugs, meds, couch, breathing, punching...been there, done that. I too just can't go back to sleep once I "feel" the vibrations of the snoring.

Think about getting a LOUD white noise machine. Mine is my new best friend, for real. It's actually an air cleaner, so does double duty. Earplugs and a sound machine = total sleeping bliss. Also, seriously consider twin beds. You can keep them together for sexy times and move them apart (even slightly) so that you'll never hear or feel vibrations. Totally works. If you don't want twin beds or anything that looks curious to others, think about putting a super comfy chaise lounge or fainting couch of some sort in the bedroom that either of you can move to. Make sure to keep the white noise machine between wherever he is and wherever you are.

And. I bought my husband SnoreMed, and he doesn't snore while wearing it. At all. He doesn't like wearing it every night, usually uses it 3-4 nights a week.
posted by iconomy at 11:50 AM on November 22, 2010

In order to keep us calm and help us sleep, I put a drop of lavender essential oil on my and my partner's pillows. I take a herbal remedy containing Valerian root, vervain, and some other stuff (it's called Kalms, don't know if you can get it where you are but I'm sure you could find something similar or you could drink chamomile tea if you have a big enough bladder to hold a cup of tea all night! I don't.).

I also put in really good foam earplugs before I go to sleep (my favorite are Hearos and you can mail order them).

Finally, instead of a king sized bed we have a double bed and a twin bed pushed together to make a really big "bed palace" as I like to call it (we're lucky enough to have a big enough bedroom for this). That way, we can snuggle together on the double bed part and then when it's time to sleep I just roll over onto the twin bed. This helps with the vibrations as I don't feel them, and also the tossing and turning which is also a problem for us.
posted by hazyjane at 11:50 AM on November 22, 2010

I was you. My husband can snore sitting straight up, thirty seconds after falling asleep. For the first part of our relationship, he had to sleep in a different room. There really was no way around it. No amount of white noise is going to cover up snoring that's loud enough to prevent you from falling asleep or keep you awake. It's going to get worse and worse unless you buy something to sleep on in the other room that allows either or both of you to get a good night's sleep.

The ultimate solution though? My husband has really bad sleep apnea and needed a vpap machine. Now we can sleep in the same bed and I only have to poke him if his mask gets out of kilter. You said that you guys know he should go to the doctor--my advice is just do it. Lack of sleep will rob you of your ability to cope with the situation and make other things that life brings up harder to cope with as well.
posted by Kimberly at 11:59 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Assuming that this is possible sleep apnea, the only thing you can do is sleep in another room. Invest in an inflatable mattress so it will be more comfy (I was always fine on the couches we've had but that depends, obviously, on the couch.)

My husband has sleep apnea and the only thing other than sleeping elsewhere that worked was him getting a cpap machine. BTW please tell him I said don't put this on the back burner; sleep apnea can wreak havoc on your health up to and including dying from a heart attack or a stroke. Not to mention the havoc it wreaks on your relationship when both of you are cranky and exhausted!!!!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:00 PM on November 22, 2010

Nthing the white noise suggestion. I used to be married to someone who snored, and running a big box fan in the room was the only solution that ever worked for me.
posted by spinto at 12:10 PM on November 22, 2010

Sweetie uses a Neti pot, which helps a lot. Works best if he uses it regularly. There's also a sqeeze-bottle-type one that I hear is easier to use.

Nthing separate sleeping arrangements. I'll climb in bed to cuddle in the morning sometimes.
posted by momus_window at 12:15 PM on November 22, 2010

I make like large insect in a prehistoric cave - that is, I lightly touch his rib cage or upper arm and wiggle my fingers. He rolls over to get away from the "bug," stops snoring and I get a 20-minute window to fall asleep, which is usually enough. He doesn't wake up (well, maybe one time in a 100) and I don't have to yell at him.

Also, I pester him to see a sleep specialist because he complains about being tired and because I think he has sleep apnea, but so far no luck with that.
posted by rw at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2010

Mr. crankylex snores so loudly that I hear him from the other side of the house. Does he snore less in any position? If so, when he wakes you up with his snores, shake him awake and tell him to switch to that position. I find that gives me enough time to fall back asleep before he really starts in again. Sometimes when it is especially deafening, I take a sleeping pill. Maybe try taking a sleeping pill before you go to bed aand see if that keeps you asleep for the whole night?
posted by crankylex at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2010

elbow to the ribs is a useful suggestion - but i've had more luck through the years with a variety of snoring partners by plugging their nose for 3-5 seconds. they roll, they don't wake up, and they reset their breathing, allowing me to fall back asleep before the snoring starts again.
posted by nadawi at 12:34 PM on November 22, 2010

They say the volume control on bagpipes is radius-squared and it's the same for snoring.

You need to make a second comfortable place to sleep in your apartment. There may be a medical problem that needs attention - he needs to get that checked, of course - but meanwhile, separate yourselves and get some rest. You can't solve any problem without sleep first.
posted by fritley at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tug on the pillow, lightly. Usually this works by itself, but if not: tug on pillow and make a little scratchy sound on the wall or headboard with a fingernail. This sort-of-wakens the sleeper and they will very often flop over at that point.
posted by jet_silver at 1:18 PM on November 22, 2010

vvvvsleep apnea can wreak havoc on your health up to and including dying from a heart attack or a stroke.

This: sleep apnea is no joke. Neither is having a car accident because he didn't get good sleep and nodded off at the wheel. Sleep study, STAT.

In the meantime: for him, Breathe Right strips, FloNase or other nasal spray, and a tennis ball in a sock, pinned to the back of his pajamas, so he can't sleep on his back. For you, Restoril or Ambien, a white noise machine, a body pillow as a barrier so he can't snore in your ear, and/or separate beds.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:35 PM on November 22, 2010

I just don't think there's a good solution for you other than sleeping in another room or resigning to interrupted sleep. Sounds like you all are already aware of some sort of doctor option, but here's some more detail in case you don't have it. My poor mom didn't have a full night's deep sleep for 35 years and then my dad got a CPAP machine and now there is zero snoring and the poor woman can finally rest. All night every night for those decades she'd reach over and jiggle him and say his name over and over each time he'd start up. He tried the belt of tennis balls and other tricks but nothing worked. And he now feels great, like so much better. He didn't realize he was feeling bad until he started using it. Now he wakes up fully refreshed before the alarm goes off and has more energy and alertness.

I don't know if snoring necessarily equals apnea, but for many people they go hand in hand. They stop breathing many times per night and then when they're about to pass out, their bodies make them wake up a bit and lunge for air with a snort. And with their collapsed throat tissues, it's chainsaw time even when that's not happening. Ultimately living this way for years and decades can lead to heart problems. So it's not only advantageous to stop the snoring, not only great for getting true rest, but also important for long term health. Assuming it's apnea. Does he jerk suddenly in his sleep? That's often a clue.

Either way, you could get a referral to a doctor that treats it, usually a pulmonologist, and they can see if it makes sense to have him do a polysomnography (sleep study). If they determine he's waking up X times during the night and not breathing for stretches of time, they can prescribe him a little machine blows a constant stream of air through a hose leading up to a little nose piece or small mask, which hits the back of the throat and causes the airway to remain open instead of collapsing, which keeps him breathing steadily and stops the snoring.

It's somewhat awkward but the stories I hear from my dad, uncle, and others are that it's life changing and they won't be without it. They even take it traveling. Once you know what to look for you can see lots of them amongst airport travelers. It's a hassle to get all set up with doctors and tests and all, and since he's a asleep and doesn't know it's happening, his motivation can be very low. But if he won't do it for his sake maybe he'll do it for yours. We had to record my dad on tape before he'd believe that he snored, so that's something you could try. Record him all night and then play it back for him at the same volume as he tries to go to sleep, just so he can see how awful it is.
posted by Askr at 1:39 PM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second Kimberly in that both of you need to sleep separately in real beds and nothing else is going to work if you are sensitive to snoring. I'd suggest getting a day bed, though, it's kinda couch-y for days and is still like a real bed.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:49 PM on November 22, 2010

My girlfriend noticed that after I lost 15kg over a period of ninety days or so my snoring almost disappeared. I know that it might be BS, but my BMI went from 28 to 24 during this period of time. Maybe more exercise?
posted by vkxmai at 2:01 PM on November 22, 2010

White noise machine helps a ton.

As does a gentle tap on the arm telling the snorer "You're snoring, roll over." Enough to startle him, not enough to wake him fully.

These work for me when my husband snores. If I really can't get back to sleep, I move to our (fold-down) couch. My parents have also had this problem and my mother has often retreated to the guest room. If the problem continues, you might want to invest in a more comfortable couch/guest bed option. No shame in sleeping separately from time to time - or even months on end. Everyone needs sleep. The upshot of this being that you'll also have a place for overnight guests to crash! Bonus!
posted by sonika at 2:47 PM on November 22, 2010

I bounce on the mattress a little bit to get my beau to roll over. It doesn't wake him up and it gives me time to fall asleep before he starts up again.
posted by ladygypsy at 2:47 PM on November 22, 2010

Mr. immlass is a big-time snorer. Things that have worked for us:

- White noise generator (available at Brookstone or similar mall shop).
- Mr. immlass takes nasal spray before bed.
- Mr. immlass is not allowed to sleep on his back. I will make him roll over and wake him up to do so if I have to.
- Touching Mr. immlass' back if he is snoring on his side. Even if he doesn't wake up, it breaks the (non)rhythm of snoring.

Sometimes one of us still has to sleep in the other room even with all that. We're hoping that our recent move and a change in his habits will result in some weight loss and reduced snoring, but the jury is still out on that.
posted by immlass at 2:52 PM on November 22, 2010

My husband snores. I take Ambien and try to fall asleep first. On Ambien, once I'm asleep I tend to stay asleep.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:14 PM on November 22, 2010

I'm the poster. Turns out that partner is not embarrassed at all by his public exposure, although he's dismayed at all the suggestions to poke him in the ribs! (He's actually a very light sleeper, and it'd definitely wake him up, which I do want to avoid.)

Thanks for the answers--I'm definitely going to try earplugs + white noise, and we may give some other snore reduction measures a try too. Ordinarily it's not a problem, so I'm not concerned about moving to a 2-bedroom apartment so we can have separate beds, but I've been more stressed out than usual recently and it's affecting sleep (obviously). Also, in partner's kind of defense, he really isn't a very loud snorer; I'm just overly sensitive and sleep-anxious right now.
posted by mchorn at 4:47 PM on November 22, 2010

I have had trouble sleeping in the past because I'd wake up and fret about stuff - I found that quietly listening to audiobooks really helped - I use a comfortable clip-on earphone when my boyfriend sleeps over. The trick is to listen to a book that you love, but have read before - it's just enough to keep your mind from fretting, but not so gripping that it will keep you up.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:19 PM on November 22, 2010

Snore shirt
posted by lalochezia at 5:41 PM on November 22, 2010

I don't poke my partner, but he's now trained to respond without even waking to my hand firmly placed on his shoulder - he turns right around onto his side and stops snoring.

Also we recently bought a bed that causes no partner sleep-disturbance and that has helped immensely.
posted by shazzam! at 6:17 PM on November 22, 2010

My husband has really bad sleep apnea and needed a vpap machine. Now we can sleep in the same bed and I only have to poke him if his mask gets out of kilter. You said that you guys know he should go to the doctor--my advice is just do it.

I won't say a bad word about the cpap machines; my husband's probably saved his life. However, just to note, I find sleeping next to the machine (and its constant wind blowing on me whenever he wants to snuggle me in his sleep) far worse than then snoring ever was. I now sleep in another room probably 4 nights out of 7.

For now, though, finding a way to turn him on his side will help. I did this by simply pushing lightly on his shoulder and he'd roll on his side; then I'd snuggle up behind him and fall back asleep.
posted by anastasiav at 8:29 PM on November 22, 2010

MrBardophile snores loud enough to be heard through closed doors. My trick is to a) try to fall asleep before him. b) if/when I wake up in the middle of the night, put on a relaxation podcast or some relaxing classical music that is about 20-30 mins long. If it's shorter, I might not fall asleep. If it's longer, I may drift off and then have the music wake me up.
posted by bardophile at 2:42 AM on November 23, 2010

Been dealt with before, I'm not sure where the previous is...

Anyway, have husband see an ENT, and do a sleep study. The sleep study will have one of two outcomes:

1. No medical problem: Options for alleviating snoring include "pillar implants", or an oral appliance. There are some other options. In my experience, very few people benefit from Breathe-Right strips. In order for it to help, the noise basically has to be coming from inside the nose. It it's further back, it doesn't do anything.

2. Problem! A large number of snorers (including myself) snore due to Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Options for treatment (which will alleviate the snoring as well) are the use of a CPAP machine or similar (an air pump that blows air into the lungs via a mask), or a different kind of oral appliance which moves the jaw forward, and needs to be custom-fit by a dentist (that's what I'm using now).

The vast majority of over the counter anti-snoring products are completely worthless.
posted by Citrus at 11:15 AM on November 23, 2010

Again, I was the poster; parter is not embarrassed as expected.

Citrus: We're aware of the medical implications, which is why my question asked for answers focused on how I can cope with the snoring rather than doctor-related recommendations. I did in fact search the history, and snoring-related questions are what you apparently think this one is: questions about limiting snoring. If you have a suggestion about how your wife puts up with you, I'd be happy to listen.
posted by mchorn at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2010

For us, the ONLY thing that worked was sleeping on opposite ends of the house. (I took the couch.)

You might try seeing if the husband can sleep on the couch instead, or perhaps get a more comfortable sleeping arrangement for the other room. Maybe a sleeping bag, maybe an airbed?
posted by Citrus at 12:08 PM on November 23, 2010

I sleep on an airbed in the "office" of our apartment, while the wife sleeps in the bedroom. I put office in quotes because my sleeping is the most common activity for that room, while most of the work done from home is done on the couch in the living room.
posted by owtytrof at 9:56 AM on November 24, 2010

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