Almost everyone occasionally snores. It is typically not something to worry about. However, if you regularly snore at night, it can disrupt the quality of your sleep—leading to daytime fatigue, irritability, and increased health problems. Plus, your snoring can keep your partner awake. Snoring can create major relationship problems too. Sleeping in separate bedrooms is not the only solution for snoring. There are many effective remedies that can help both you and your partner sleep better at night and overcome the relationship problems caused when one person snores.
What causes snoring?
Snoring happens when you cannot move air freely through your throat and nose during sleep. This makes the surrounding tissues vibrate, which produces the familiar snoring sound. The position of your tongue can also get in the way of smooth breathing.
Snoring and your relationship
No matter how much you love each other, snoring can put major stress on your relationship. If you are the one lying awake at night as your partner snores away, it is easy to start feeling resentful and bitter. If you are the snorer, you can feel guilty, helpless, or even irritated with your partner for nagging on about something you cannot control.
When snoring is a problem, relationship problems can grow in the following ways:
Irritability due to sleep loss. Disrupted sleep is not just a problem for the non-snorer. Snoring is caused by disordered breathing, which means the snorer’s sleep quality also suffers. Poor sleep takes a toll on mood, thinking skills, judgment, and your ability to manage stress and conflict. Furthermore, poor sleep puts serious strain on your brain, organs and body. This can explain why communication often breaks down when you and your partner try talking about the problem.
Sleeping in separate rooms. While this may be an easy solution for some couples, it can also take a toll on physical and emotional intimacy. Plus, if you are the one snoring, you might feel lonely, isolated, and unfairly punished.
Partner resentment. When a non-snorer feels they has done everything possible to sleep through the night (ear plugs, sound machines, etc.) but the snorer does nothing to combat the snoring, it can lead to resentment. Working as a team to find a snoring cure can prevent future fights. Dr. Nugent sees a lot of new patients that are very reluctant to come see him. The new patients come in order to help their bed partners sleep better.
If you value your relationship, sleep and heath, make it your priority to find a snoring cure so you can both sleep soundly. Working together to stop snoring can even be an opportunity to improve the quality of your bond and become more deeply connected.
Dealing with criticisms about your snoring
It is common to be caught off guard—not to mention to feel a little hurt—when a bed partner criticizes about your snoring. After all, you probably did not even realize it was happening. And although it might seem silly that snoring can cause such relationship turmoil, it’s a common and a very real problem.
If you ignore your bed partner’s concerns and refuse to try to solve your snoring problem, you are sending a strong message to your partner that you do not care about their needs. This could mean your relationship is in trouble.
Please keep the following in mind as you and your partner work together to find a solution to your snoring:
Avoid taking it personally. Try not to take your partner’s annoyance as a personal critique or attack. Your partner loves you, just not the snoring.
Snoring is a physical issue. It is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.
Take your partner seriously. Avoid down playing complaints. Lack of sleep is a health hazard and can make your partner feel miserable all day.
Make it clear that you prioritize the relationship. If you and your partner have this understanding, you will both do what it takes to find a cure for the snoring.
People snore for different reasons, it is important to understand the causes behind your snoring. Once you understand why you snore, you can find the right solutions to a quieter, deeper sleep—for both you and your partner.
Common causes of snoring
- Being overweight or out of shape. Fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring. Exercising and losing weight can sometimes be all it takes to end your snoring.
- Age. As you reach middle age and beyond the muscle tone in your throat decreases.
- Nasal and sinus problems. Blocked airways or a stuffy nose make inhalation difficult and create a vacuum in the throat, leading to snoring. This is why Dr. Nugent recommends a CBCT to evaluate for anatomical obstruction.
- Your anatomy. A narrow throat, a cleft palate, enlarged adenoids, and other physical attributes that contribute to snoring are often hereditary.
- Alcohol, smoking, and medications. Alcohol intake, smoking, and certain medications, such as tranquilizers like Ativan and Valium, can decrease muscle tone leading to more snoring.
- Sleep posture. Sleeping flat on your back causes the flesh of your throat and tongue to relax and block the airway. Changing your sleep position can help.
Dr. Nugent can create an oral appliance to help eliminate snoring!
The oral appliance pulls the lower jaw downward and forward opening up the airway in the back of the throat. With the airway open there is no vibration of the soft tissue in the back of the throat to cause snoring.
Snoring, OSA and your Health
When to see a Doctor?
Consult a sleep doctor if you experience, or if your partner observes, the following:
- Snoring loud enough to disturb your sleep or that of others
- Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
- Waking up gasping or choking
- Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving a vehicle
Many people may not think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea.
Be sure to contact Dr. Nugent if you experience loud snoring, especially snoring that’s punctuated by periods of silence. With obstructive sleep apnea, snoring usually is loudest when you sleep on your back, and it quiets when you turn on your side.
Snoring or a Serious Medical Problem?
Snoring could indicate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is a serious sleep disorder where your breathing is interrupted many times each night. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep because there is not a blockage of air during breathing. However, with OSA you literally stop breathing and there is no oxygen being taken in. The lack of oxygen and the body having to “wake up” to clear the airway to live can cause serious health problems, extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.
Sleep Apnea Red Flags
- You snore loudly and heavily and are tired during the day.
- You stop breathing, gasp, or choke during sleep.
- You fall asleep at inappropriate times, such as during a conversation or while driving
- Night time sweating
- Non-refreshing sleep
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Morning Headaches
- Decreased Sex Drive