Expert Advice for Snorers and Their Partners

Expert Advice for Snorers and Their Partners

You know the old saying, “you snooze, you lose?” For some of us, it rings true in quite a literal way. Ninety million Americans are snorers, and a right many of those ninety million have partners with whom they share a bed. And a room. And all the sounds in that room. See where we’re going with this? Snoring, at some point, affects everyone—and there is empathy to be shared on both sides. Snorers have a hard time breathing, snorees (why not?) have a hard time resting.

We sought practical guidance for how to deal with chronic snoring, so we reached out to dental sleep doctor, Dr. Kent Smith. Smith, who serves as president of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, knows quite a bit about the dreaded snooze sounds known as snores. Read on for his recommendations and guidelines for both snorers and their loved ones.

Advice for snorers

There are a number of common methods to try to stop snoring. The important factor to consider when choosing the right method is the origin of your snoring. Most snoring originates in the throat, though it could also be the result of nasal blockage.

Lifestyle Changes

Losing weight and not drinking alcohol late at night may make a difference. Even just switching to sleeping on your side may significantly reduce snoring.

OTC Solutions

Nose cones and breathing strips are common over-the-counter solutions that may be effective for cases in which snoring is a result of nasal blockage. Nose cones, made of plastic or rubber, are inserted into the nostril to maintain an open passageway. Breathings strips adhere to the outside of the nose to gently pull open the nasal passage.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Custom-fit oral devices that fit similar to a sports mouth guard realign your jaw in such a way that eliminates blockage in the throat due to relaxed muscles or a collapsed tongue.


Advisable in the most severe cases, surgical intervention typically involves removal of some of the loose tissues from the patient’s throat.

If snoring is an issue that has been causing sleepless nights and other problems in your home, it’s time to look more deeply into the reasons behind it and begin searching for a lasting solution.

Advice for those who share a bed with snorers

For those of us that share a bed with another person, it is often our partners’ snoring or sleep disturbances that can disrupt our own sleep. Over the long term, this can have a negative impact not only on your relationship, but also on your health.

Couples struggling with persistent sleep issues that prevent one or both of them from getting quality sleep each night should consult a sleep specialist to diagnose any possible underlying sleep conditions and uncover treatment options. In the meantime, here are some things sleep-challenged couples can try to increase their chances of getting a good night’s sleep:

Talk about your sleep.

If you’re constantly waking up at night because your bed partner is snoring, don’t just elbow them and move on, say something. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. And if you notice that your partner gasps, snorts, or chokes during the night, you should encourage him or her to see a doctor, stat.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and routine.

Work together to improve your bedtime rituals. Get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Limit your bedroom activities to sleep and intimacy. Avoid alcohol, heavy foods, and caffeine before bed. Instead of scrolling through social media or watching TV before you go to sleep, read a book or take a warm shower or bath. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference.

Train your partner not to sleep on his or her back.

Does your significant other snore when he or she sleeps on their back? If so, prop pillows around them so they are forced to sleep on their side. A more extreme option is to attach tennis balls to your partner’s sleep shirt (with their permission, of course) to prevent them from being able to sleep in the supine position.

If neither of these tactics work, the problem may not be solely linked to sleep position and should be investigated by a sleep specialist.

Use earplugs or a white noise machine.

If there are noises in your bedroom over which you have little control—like your bed partner’s snoring—earplugs or a white noise machine may help. For some people, white noise can help “drown out” periodic noises that disrupt sleep.

Sleep alone.

If all else fails, sleeping in separate bedrooms is an option. For some couples, sleeping separately isn’t a big deal. For others, it’s a deal breaker. You must decide what works best for your relationship.

Dr. Kent Smith is the founding director of Sleep Dallas, a dental sleep medicine practice that provides oral appliance therapy to patients who are CPAP intolerant. Dr. Smith is President of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine and is on the Advisory Committee of the Australasian Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. In addition to running his practice, Dr. Smith is the founder and primary facilitator of 21st Century Sleep Seminars, a series of training events that prepares dental professionals to incorporate dental sleep medicine into their practices. Dr. Smith has also created a curriculum for a course focused on recognizing and treating sleep breathing disorders at the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Clinical Studies.