Living with a Partner Who Snores: From “Argh!” to “Zzz”

Do you sleep in the same bed with a partner who snores? That is…do you try to? When your partner’s sleep problems get so bad they become your sleep problems, here are a few solutions you can try, both alone and together.

What You Can Do

Drown It Out

Ear plugs are an obvious (and cheap) solution. Available at big stores (think WalMart), sporting goods stories, or sometimes hardware stores and pharmacies, a good night’s sleep might cost you as little as a few dollars.

Noise machines can also help. Also called sound machines, you can get them at a range of prices and functionalities, from $25 at Target to $130 at Brookstone. If you can’t justify spending 50 bucks for a device that just sounds like ordinary wind, try turning on a fan at night and facing it toward a wall, so you get the benefit of the noise without the chilliness of the breeze.

Change Your Timing

If you’re sick of getting in bed and lying in wait for the snoring to ramp up, try going to bed 15 minutes or more before your partner. Once you’re solidly getting your sleep on, the loud sounds might not bother you.

What Your Partner Can Do

If your partner snores, you might be tempted to give a gift of natural throat sprays, special pillows, or anti-snoring nose strips as a not-so-subtle hint. But be warned: according to Dr. Peter G. Michaelson, an ear-nose-throat surgeon affiliated with Wilford Hall Medical Center, these products often don’t work.

It Could Be Serious

Most of the time, when a partner snores, it’s just an annoyance for the unlucky person who’s sharing the bed. But sometimes, it can be a sign of a medical problem.


If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to have trouble breathing during sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Unfortunately, there’s no overnight (ha ha) solution to this one except for healthy diet and exercise over time. Even then, it might not completely solve the problem.

Sleep Apnea: Beyond Just Snoring

What if, while you slept, you just stopped breathing sometimes? 18 million Americans live with exactly this problem—a dangerous condition called sleep apnea, when airway obstructions are so bad, they only stop snoring by not breathing at all.

While obesity can cause sleep apnea, anything that puts pressure on the airway can also be a cause—a smoking habit, large tonsils, or even severe allergies. (Or maybe that’s just the pressure of the cat lying on your partner’s neck.)

While there’s no permanent cure, sleep apnea is treatable and there is plenty of help available. Have your partner make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out and talk things over.

Nothing Is Working! Now What?

If your partner has a clean bill of health and your noise machine is maxed out, and it still sounds like you’re bunking with a chainsaw, keep in mind that according to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 12 percent of married couples sleep alone. If all else fails, don’t be embarrassed about packing up and heading to the couch—or your own designated bedroom!

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