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My Spouse Snores — What’s Causing It and What Can I Do?

October 15, 2015

Everyone snores.

Think you don’t? Then you probably are kidding yourself.

Snoring is about as natural as sleeping, but when you have a spouse that snores, getting enough rest can be a challenge. Some people try everything — ear plugs, soothing music, pulling the pillow over their head —but sometimes even these efforts can’t block out the noise caused by a snoring partner.

If you are at your wits’ end with the snoring coming from the other side of the bed, be patient with your spouse and figure out what you can do to help him or her. After all, no one wants to snore. There are several things that may work to help you both get a good night’s rest—and I don’t mean sleeping in separate rooms.

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring occurs when air gets trapped between your mouth and nose when you sleep. Sleeping on your back can cause you to snore because your tongue drops to the back of your mouth, causing irregular airflow. Other causes include a weakened throat that closes when you sleep, nasal or sinus problems and being overweight, which causes fatty tissue to develop around the throat.

Sometimes snoring is physiological. Men often have narrower air passages than women, which makes them more likely to snore. Snoring also may indicate a more serious health issue such as sleep apnea, a condition in which someone’s breathing is interrupted during sleep and must wake up to begin breathing again.

Snoring isn’t just uncomfortable to listen to; it also can affect the quality of your sleep and level of energy. Non-snoring spouses sometimes suffer from sleep deprivation or daytime fatigue because they’ve been awake most of the night. Some spouses have chosen to correct the problem by simply separating themselves from the noise. A National Sleep Foundation survey found that 23 percent of couples slept in separate beds or bedrooms because one of the spouse’s suffered from sleep problems.

Helpful Remedies

If your spouse is a snorer, talk to him or her about how it affects your sleep. Work together to develop solutions to address the issue.

If your partner sleeps on his back, ask your spouse to change sleeping positions. Your spouse can sleep on his side instead and use a body pillow to maintain that position. Excess weight, smoking, caffeine and eating certain foods also can lead to snoring. Dairy products, chocolate and spicy foods are all culprits, so if your spouse tends to overindulge in these foods it may be time for him or her to cut back. Drinking alcohol about four hours before bed also can cause snoring. As can sedatives, which affect the muscles in your throat. If your spouse’s snoring is related to any of the factors I mentioned above, gradual lifestyle changes — including a better diet and more exercise — can curb snoring.

If you have clogged or narrow nasal passages, take a hot shower before bed to open your airways. Some people also use a neti pot, a tea pot-like device you can fill with salt and water and flush through your nose to clear your nasal passages. Allergies also can make snoring worse, so make sure your pillows, carpets and ceiling fans are dust-free and as clean as possible.

Snoring can be difficult to deal with, but it’s important to be supportive and approach the topic with sensitivity when you have a spouse who snores. Your spouse may not be aware of his snoring or may be embarrassed by it. Talk to your spouse about ways to reduce or eliminate the snoring altogether or visit your doctor for additional help. And if all else fails, there’s always earplugs or hopefully a comfy couch.