Is there anything that actually helps to curb snoring?
May 28, 2014 7:39 AM   Subscribe

I am potentially going to be dating a friend of mine... one thing that has me apprehensive is that I know she is a pretty light sleeper, and while I'm not the worst snorer around, I do snore. I am in ok shape (definitely not overweight), and am not really sure that there is anything that can be "done" about it, but I was wondering if there is anything that actually helps with it? I suppose she could get ear plugs, but she says that it's hard for her to sleep with them. Are there super fancy custom ear plugs that don't feel as invasive? It would be very frustrating if, of all things, this was a source of tension...
posted by wooh to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh I should mention that I am a hay fever sufferer. I take loratadine regularly for it but during a bad time of year am still a little stuffy. I am sure that this contributes to the snoring.
posted by wooh at 7:40 AM on May 28, 2014

I recommend separate beds. I am serious as Death eating crackers. Love is love, sex is sex, sleep is sleep.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:43 AM on May 28, 2014 [26 favorites]

If you snore due to sleep apnea a C-PAP type machine will help, though then instead of snoring you sound kind of like Darth Vader. C-PAPs do more than curb snoring, they also generally help you sleep through the night.

And I'll second separate beds, or at least having the option to sleep on a couch if things are bad.
posted by bondcliff at 7:45 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's all about the wall of white noise. I have no fewer than FOUR SOURCES of white noise at different places in the bedroom, including:

* a repeating mp3 of white noise

* one of those air-blowing white noise machines that every loves

* a fan

* an air conditioner.

That about does it. Nothing else works.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:45 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Options for this range from Breathe-Right strips you can buy at the drugstore (I avoid the generic one myself as the adhesive and shape don't work for me, but YMMV) all the way up to a CPAP (expensive machine requiring expensive doctors).

Starting with the cheapest options seems reasonable since you don't seem to think the snoring is causing you health problems otherwise (if you do, seek medical attention and probably a sleep study). So: loratadine taken at night and cheap anti-snoring devices for you, sleeping earplugs (I prefer the pink-and-yellow swirl ones as most comfortable) and a fan for her.
posted by asperity at 7:48 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Check to see if you are a position snorer, like if you snore when you're on your back but otherwise don't. If that's the case then you can do something silly like put something in the back of your PJs that keeps you off of your back. I'm a light sleeper and I can hear people snoring in the next room. My solution to that is a wall of white noise, but if someone's in my bed snoring, my solution to that is putting them in another bed (and I sleep in ear plugs most of the time, they help but not enough for most noise-sensitive people).
posted by jessamyn at 7:50 AM on May 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

I was a snorer my whole life until I started forcing myself to fall asleep on my side. Like, literally jamming my hand up underneath the pillow, and shooting my leg out as far as I can to keep from rolling onto my back. Nowadays, the only time I snore is when I fall asleep on my back.
posted by Etrigan at 7:55 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah I came in here to say the same thing about position snoring. I snore like hell, but only when I'm on my back. I stop when I'm on my side. If you've shared a bed with anyone in the past, they might be able to tell you. If that turns out to be the case, then what I've done for this is just let the other party know to elbow me if I start snoring and I will roll over onto my side and that is that.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:55 AM on May 28, 2014

Agree with the above re: position snoring - my husband snores on his back but a poke from me and he rolls over to his side and it resolves. When either of us has a cold or allergies, we wear breathe-right strips. I've had a stuffy nose for my entire pregnancy and I've been wearing one every night. Get the ones that are labeled "clear for sensitive skin" because the regular ones hurt like a bitch coming off in the morning. If you've got apnea, rolling over or wearing a strip isn't going to work, but it's a good place to start. And hey, good luck with your friend/more than friend :)
posted by hungrybruno at 7:59 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

First, get yourself to a sleep clinic, and have them evaluate you for sleep apnea. You don't need to be overweight to have it, and there is some statistic floating around that 75% of snorers have apnea, so it is worth checking out just for the sake of your health.

If you have light/moderate sleep apnea, you can be treated with a mouth guard, which is surprisingly effective (my spousal unit wears one), and less of a hassle than a cpap machine.

Finally, position snoring is a thing, most snorers snore when they are on their back because the soft tissues in the throat flop down and block the airway, but it is natural to want to sleep on your back at times, and it may in fact be necessary for a good sleep. Trying to avoid sleeping on your back is a major hassle and is only slightly less disruptive for both sleepers than the snoring.

The other option is sleeping separately, starting out together, and one person moving to a separate bedroom later on. I know a few couples who do that. And a few people who happily wear ear plugs. But, again, I think checking out whether you have sleep apnea should be the first thing you do.
posted by nanook at 8:07 AM on May 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you have to go the earplug route, know that the feeling just takes a few weeks to get used to. It was uncomfortable for me until I roomed with a noisy person, at which point the discomfort of sleep loss outweighed everything else. Now I hardly notice the earplugs. Your partner might need to experiment with different textures and shapes -- I like the smooth, bell-shaped kind.
posted by Sullenbode at 8:09 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

If the allergies lead to congestion which contributes to the snoring, could you try adding a steroid nosespray and trying a sinus rinse? Just make sure you don't use the rinse an hour before bedtime.

My partner is a snorer, but it's much worse when he's sleeping on his back and when he's congested. I elbow him and tell him it's his turn to be the little spoon when his snoring is bad--it's a problem that's solved with proper snuggling positions.
posted by inertia at 8:25 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh also, depends on some other things, but: mouth guards can really help. The good SOFT ONES, not the insane hard ones that feel like you're playing sleep hockey. They can sometimes just open your jaw enough that your throat doesn't collapse to create snoring.

But other than that, white noise, and a really big bed. Or two beds. Or two rooms.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:28 AM on May 28, 2014

I live by a train yard and I use the wax earplugs, not the foam ones. My husband wears Breathe-rite strips, when he remembers.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:32 AM on May 28, 2014

My husband snores, very loudly. For years I have slept with earplugs (the pink kind designed for smaller girl's ears) but I always pull them out through the night and wake up to snoring. Now with a new baby on the way this won't really be an option for me anymore anyway.
I bought a pillow for snoring from a department store and made my husband use it. It helps a lot, but doesn't completely eliminate the snoring. It is sort of wedge shaped and you put the thick end towards your shoulders so that your neck is elongated when sleeping and chin is not down towards the chest. He used to sleep with a super fluffy pillow before that changed his neck position and made him snore more. Best thing we have found so far.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:45 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you snore because your nose gets clogged at night? I have this problem, and this is what I do.

Neti pot, clean my nose with it about an hour before bed
Breathe right strips or those things you put in your nose to expand the opening. Both available at pharmacy.
Humidifier in my room
Change pillow cases and sheets at least once a week to avoid dust. Also, dust regularly, vacume, ect.
Sleep with 2 pillows on top of each other with head slightly elevated so nose can drain itself at night.
Sleep with a fan for white nose. She might be able to get used to earplugs, even if she said she wouldn't. Get the kind for swimming, they hold in over night and might be more comfortable since they cover the ear and are not put inside.

Added bonus: better quality sleep because your brain is getting more oxygen at night!
posted by eq21 at 8:55 AM on May 28, 2014

Short term: Are you a mouth breather at night? See if you can arrange your pillows so your jaw stays closed, which will hopefully prevent some of that snoring.

For the long term: Do you still have your tonsils? I had a sleep test and a consultation with an ENT specialist, who said my tonsils were so huge she was amazed I could swallow. I was also a chronic mouth breather, because when I lay down to sleep, my tonsils constricted my throat. After having them removed, I can now sleep with my mouth closed and snore far, far less.
posted by vickyverky at 9:01 AM on May 28, 2014

Seconding the advice to get checked out at a sleep clinic. Finding out the reason for the snoring is the key to finding out how to either stop or reduce it.

As a light sleeper who's sometimes shared a room with a heavy snorer, I've never found anything that worked to mask or block out enough of the noise to stay asleep for very long. Earplugs, fans, white noise, headphones, music, combinations of the above - all failed. Basically, anything loud enough to drown out the snoring was loud enough to keep me awake, too. And, anything heavy enough to block it was too cumbersone to be comfortable.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:22 AM on May 28, 2014

Sudafed before bed. That plus white noise plus ear plugs is what my spouse and I do when we share a bed.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:32 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

My husband only snores when he sleeps on his back. Careful positioning of 2 small dogs to prevent husband rolling during the night and a mucus aid before bed have helped my sleep immeasurably. If you are fit and only snore lightly I imagine you are a position based snorer so replacing small dogs with pillows or blankets would probably do the trick.

Remember every relationship is made up of 2 people that swear only the other one snores.
posted by wwax at 9:39 AM on May 28, 2014

I snore. Loudly and often. In any position. With pillows positioned to try and keep my mouth shut. With more pillows than normal. With less pillows than normal. I am a snoring beast. I went through initial rounds of testing for sleep apnea, but found the process so annoying I didn't complete it (how am I expected to produce a valid test result if I can't sleep at all with all the damned wires and cords attached to my head?). My wife, bless her patient heart, has put up with it (mostly) gracefully, though I know there have been more than a few nights where she's probably entertained the idea of suffocating me with her pillow.

A little over a month ago she saw a livingsocial deal for the ZQuiet, and since it was so cheap, I went for it. Like most anti-snoring mouthpieces, it works by bringing the lower jaw forward, opening up the throat so air moves freely. The first couple days were not promising. Though I didn't snore at all, I woke up with jaw and tooth pain that lasted the entire day. Thankfully the jaw pain subsided after a couple nights, though the sore tooth pain lasted for about a week and a half (I suffered through by telling myself that a little discomfort was worth the peaceful sleep for my wife). After two weeks there was no more pain. Now over a month later, my teeth still feel just a little sore when I first wake up and remove the ZQuiet, but that quickly subsides. And I've been completely snore-free the entire time. My wife regularly calls it a miracle cure.

-Relatively inexpensive compared to the competition
-Flexible hinge allows for more natural movement - you can take a drink of water and even talk, though it takes a little effort to enunciate clearly with it in
-Easy to clean
-I've noticed I don't toss and turn as much and feel a little more rested on average
-Your partner won't have sleep-deprived murderous impulses towards you in the middle of the night

-Initial discomfort/pain
-Even after a month there's still some minor discomfort
-Seems to increase saliva production
-In its natural position, there's enough tension in the hinge to keep your mouth open - can lead to dry mouth and chapped lips if you're prone to it (though the increased saliva production at least keeps the throat from drying out too much)
-Not sure how durable it will be. I've read other reviews that said they had to replace it two or 3 times a year. Based on its effectiveness, it might be worth it.

All in all, I'd say it's definitely worth a try. Just bear in mind that you'll probably hate the device for the first couple days and/or weeks.
posted by adamp88 at 9:45 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Although I agree that a sleep study is definitely worthwhile, I have two thoughts.

First, an ex-boyfriend snored until the day I bought him a tempur pedic pillow. I had purchased one for myself to help with a pinched nerve in my neck and, although it takes a few days to get used to sleeping on memory foam if you're used to down, it's the single best thing I ever did for my sleep. He stopped snoring immediately but gave it up shortly thereafter as he felt like he couldn't get comfortable. I used earplugs with him, and they helped a lot, but they have to be industrial, not the kind you get at the pharmacy but the kind you get at the hardware store.

Second, my current boyfriend is a snorer. He has friends who make fun of him for snoring so loudly that he shakes the rafters. Mainly, we spoon with me as the big spoon. That's really all that's needed. I'm sure the tempur pedic pillows help, too, though.
posted by janey47 at 9:47 AM on May 28, 2014

Speaking as a woman who is married to a man who did not start snoring until the DAY AFTER THE WEDDING DAY (I kid you not)...

Yeah, earplugs. I first tried the normal orange foamy ones, but they were uncomfortable, and they fell out and just weren't good for sleeping. Now I get the dainty little "for women" pink foamy ones that are a little smaller or something than the normal orange ones. They sucked at first, but I know now how to get them in properly, comfortably, and they are pretty comfy to sleep in now.

I also try very hard to fall asleep before he does, or at least before he starts snoring. That helps a lot.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2014

The position thing is definitely real. I have been known to elbow a certain someone in the middle of the night when his snoring wakes me up. He rolls over, everyone goes back to sleep.
posted by radioamy at 12:08 PM on May 28, 2014

There's a study that shows practicing the didgeridoo can help ease snoring issues.
posted by forkisbetter at 1:04 PM on May 28, 2014

Ear plugs don't really work well at all--at best they muffle sound. Unless you're a really light snorer, they won't really work. I've had better luck with ear plugs + insisting that someone wear Breathe Right strips on their nose + white noise machines, all honesty, separate beds is the easier choice.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:44 PM on May 28, 2014

Sleep studies can be expensive if not covered by insurance - you might want to talk to a good ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor. Mine discovered that I have a deviated septum and an oversized uvula (of all things) that blocked my air passage when I was sleeping. He fixed both (inlcuding a uvulectomy) and my wife is MUCH happier for it.
posted by sirvinegar at 11:56 AM on May 29, 2014

Nthing the sleep study - or at least checking in with your doctor to rule out sleep apnea. However, as someone who had an operation for apnea and still snores a bit, I have found two products that have worked for me at various stages: Theravent and NasiVent. Both are actually available via Amazon and both have made my snoring much less noticeable and tolerable (I believe) to my wife. I have no connection to either company, but have had recent success with the Theravent. Theravent takes some time to get used to, but works. Neither is particularly attractive - use them when you're really ready to sleep. :)
posted by flyingrock at 12:18 PM on June 3, 2014

If you are snoring because of sleep apnea, a CPAP machine might be a life changing event. So much so that not snoring might be a minor footnote.

I had bad apnea, and I was getting married to light sleeper. After getting my machine, I felt like I was getting 4+ hours more sleep a night. I used to have a hard time staying awake on my long work commute, but after the CPAP I rarely had a problem ever again.

So, get a sleep study and find out if a CPAP is a good solution. If the doctor says it is, I highly recommend it.
posted by sideshow at 12:57 PM on June 5, 2014

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