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Sleeping with a snorer

Sleeping with a snorer
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Tales of snoring spouses may generate some lively conversations and the occasional giggle, but for both the snorer, and the partner subjected to their nighttime rumblings, snoring can be a real issue. Left unchecked, regular and persistent snoring can lead to poor sleep patterns, fatigue, general irritability and, ultimately, long term health problems as a result. If your partner’s snoring often leads you to abandon the couple-bed in favour of peace in the spare room, it can also lead to trouble in your relationship. So what can you do to improve things?

Identify the Cause

Until you know what’s causing the snoring it’s difficult to target an effective remedy. Snoring occurs when air is prevented from moving unencumbered through your mouth and nose while you are asleep; the reasons behind this are varied. Some of the most common causes of snoring are:

  • Nasal and sinus problems – the airways can become blocked, making inhalation tricky and creating a vacuum in the throat that causes snoring
  • The way you are made – men are more likely to snore than women, in part because their airways are generally narrower. Additional physical attributes such as enlarged adenoids, a cleft palate or a narrow throat can further compound the problem
  • Sleep position – the posture you adopt when sleeping can contribute to snoring. Those who prefer to snooze on their back, for example, experience a greater relaxation of the flesh in the throat that can block the airway, leading to snoring
  • Age – in both men and women the throat narrows with age, its muscle tone decreases making snoring more likely
  • Drugs – alcohol, smoking, medications – can all cause a relaxation of the throat muscles that creates the ideal environment for snoring
  • Physical condition – being out of shape can also cause snoring, as excess fatty tissue and poor muscle tone generate blockages in the airways

If your partner snores with their mouth closed it is most likely a problem with their tongue. Conversely, open-mouthed snoring usually suggests a problem with the throat tissues. Snoring that only occurs when lying on the back is most likely caused by lifestyle choices; sleep posture or your partner’s physical condition, making it simpler to cure.

Once you understand the underlying cause of the snoring, you can seek solutions that address the specific issue. Be aware however, in a minority of cases snoring can be a result of sleep apnoea. This is a more serious condition where the breathing is obstructed to the extent that the brain actively interferes to wake the sleeper, in order to stimulate breathing again.

Snoring Solutions

Sleeping with a snorerThere are various ways to tackle the different causes of snoring, including the following:

  1. Lifestyle – weight loss, exercise and an avoidance of, or reduction in, the use of drugs and medications can all improve snoring when it occurs as a result of your partner’s lifestyle choices
  2. Sleep environment – nasal and sinus problems can be improved by keeping your bedroom air moist and well aired, also using nasal decongestants that help you breathe more easily
  3. Sleeping on the back – many couples swear by the ‘tennis ball’ solution, where a tennis ball or similar object is secured into the back of the snorer’s nightwear, discouraging sleeping on the back
  4. Throat issues – if excess, un-toned throat tissue is the issue, this can be helped by doing daily throat and mouth exercises designed to strengthen the muscles that contribute to snoring
  5. Oral devices – similar to an athletic mouth guard, a snoring mouthpiece can help by keeping the lower jaw and tongue in place at the front of the mouth during sleep
  6. Herbal sprays – these help to tighten the tissues on the roof of the mouth and in the throat, keeping the airways more open and facilitating the flow of air

Communicating with your Partner

Many snorers will be slightly sensitive about the nightly disruption caused by their snoring. They are not doing it on purpose after all. So when you raise the issue with your partner, try to be as sensitive as you can about it:

  • Avoid talking in the middle of the night – you’ll both be tired and irritable
  • Remember the snoring is not intentional – it disturbs their sleep too
  • Use humour – keep the discussion light-hearted to try and ease any tension, but avoid teasing
  • Don’t lash out – having your sleep disturbed can make you angry, but a confrontational approach will not help
  • Try not to be bitter – simmering resentment and bitterness can be damaging to a relationship. Be up front and frank about how the snoring is affecting you, but don’t use it as an excuse to dish up other issues that may be troubling you in the relationship

 

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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