Imagine one minute that you’re soaring through dreamland, on the back of a magical dragon no less, and the next, you’re jerked awake by what sounds like a dying hippopotamus. It may be better if that irritating noise was, in fact, coming from a wild animal, but more often than not, it’s escaping from the gaping mouth of your snoozing significant other.
Snoring. It’s a problem that plagues more than 90 million Americans, according to sleep experts. Snoring can often be funny, and even somewhat cute at first, but a chronically sleep-deprived bunkmate is no laughing matter. That’s why we’ve partnered with Sleep Number to talk to real couples about how snoring affects their relationship and sleeping arrangements, and to learn the weird hacks they use to stay sane and snuggle on. Here’s what they had to say:
1. Maria and Jim ― Together 27 years, married for 17
Maria: “Jim snores like a slumbering bear. After years of putting up with the snorting and wheezing, I realized that when he wasn’t loud, he was often not breathing at all for several seconds. As a consequence of not breathing, he got fitted with a c-Pap (positive airway pressure) mask which helps him breathe properly while asleep. [The mask causes] its own issues if there is a light sleeper in the same bed. If it doesn’t seal properly to his face, it sounds like a teapot whistling in my ear at 3 a.m., and feels like someone blowing a steady stream of air into my eye ― if I happen to be facing him as I sleep.”
Jim: “Hey, she snores too!”
Maria: “I don’t know how he would know that since he always seems to be asleep. But if I do snore, I am sure my snores are soft and dainty.”
Tip: Experts estimate that sleep apnea affects more than 18 million American adults. If left untreated, it can lead to weight gain, memory problems, high blood pressure and other serious cardiovascular issues, so talk with your doctor if you think an undiagnosed sleep disorder could be keeping you from scoring your soundest Zs.
2. Sakura and Angela ― Together two years, engaged to be married
Sakura: “Angela snores so badly. She didn’t believe me, so I recorded her once, and it was ridiculous. She also talks in her sleep which is funny but very annoying when I want to sleep.”
Angela: “I would like to go on the record and say that I am so fortunate to have someone like Sakura who puts up with my snoring. From what she describes, it sounds awful. I wouldn’t even know if Sakura snores because I’m such a heavy sleeper, I can pretty much sleep through anything. She does drool, though. But that’s fine because we have separate pillows.”
Sakura: “I recently figured out how to make her stop snoring if she wakes me up: I massage and scratch her head until the snoring stops. If I only do it for a few minutes, she’ll start back up again right away. But if I massage for a while, I can stop it for pretty much the whole night, and she never wakes up during it.”
Tip: Change your sleeping position to curb snoring. Studies show that side sleepers are less likely to snore.
3. Bob and Carla ― Married for 19 years
Carla: “One morning, when Bob woke up, he looked at me and said, ‘The snoring isn’t you! It’s Chester! All this time I thought you were snoring, but I didn’t want to say anything!’”
“Chester is our fat Shih Tzu, who at night always crawls into the empty section [of our] bookcase headboard and snores up a storm in our ears. I’d always known the snores were coming from the puppy, but apparently my kind and compassionate husband thought for years that he had a wife who snored like a truck driver.”
Tip: Sleeping with pets is cozy, but it can also prevent you from getting a great night’s sleep. If your pet is a sleep saboteur, it might be time to close your bedroom door and keep those furry snuggles to the daytime hours.
4. Rachel and Tom ― Together five years, married five months
Rachel: “Tom only snores when he’s had a little to drink.”
Tom: “It’s a lot harder to wake me up after a few beers, so I’m sure it’s annoying.”
Rachel: “It’s only a problem when he falls asleep on his back, then I have to wake him up and force him to switch over to his side so he’s not sleeping with his mouth open. Usually that does the trick.”
Tip: Because alcohol relaxes and narrows the upper airways, even a couple of beers before bed can lead to some serious snoring. Avoid drinking for at least four hours before you hit the sack to keep alcohol-induced snoring to a minimum.
5. Jase and Caroline ― Together three years, living together for two
Caroline: “I’m a crazy-light sleeper, so even ONE stuffy-nose snore from his side of the bed can wrench me out of sleep for the rest of the night. I once got so angry with him for snoring I plugged his nose until he woke up in a panic.”
Jase: “Yeah, that was mean. I thought I was drowning! Plus, she snores too, especially when she’s sick.”
Caroline: “There’s literally no way my snoring is as bad as his. And even if it is, it wouldn’t matter, because he can sleep through anything! I wake up if the cat jumps off the bed, Jase can sleep through a fire truck parade. When he gets going, I usually poke him as hard as I can and put in my headphones. Sometimes it works, sometimes I just lie there fuming until morning, and then spend the whole day being irrationally mad at him. It’s a process.”
Tip: Though it appears the science is still out on what makes someone a light sleeper or a heavy sleeper, those who claim to be light sleepers know it can be hard to rest easy. Investing in a pair of quality earplugs, noise-cancelling headphones, or a soothing sound machine can be a lifesaver for the light sleepers among us.
6. Noelle and Isak ― Together three years
Noelle: “I’ve been having some snoring issues lately, and I feel so bad about keeping him up.”
Isak: “It’s really not that bad at all. You only do it when you fall asleep on your back or when you’re sick. It’s not a bad snore. I like to call it a ‘cute lil dino snore.”
Tip: When you’re sick, you can stop even your cutest “dino” snores by slightly elevating your head while you sleep. Specially designed pillows and mattresses that elevate your head can help clear your your sinuses by preventing nostril-blocking mucus from pooling in your nasal cavities.
Snoring shouldn’t be a bedroom deal-breaker. That’s why Sleep Number® offers the FlexFit™ adjustable base with Snore™ technology* to gently raise your partner’s head. Plus, Sleep Number® beds adjust on each side to your ideal level of firmness, comfort and support ― your Sleep Number setting. So couples sleep better together.
*May temporarily relieve common mild snoring in otherwise healthy adults. Partner Snore™ technology is available with Split King and FlexTop® King mattresses on FlexFit™ 2 and 3 adjustable bases.