What can I do if my partner snores?

Craig L. Schwimmer, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Explain that their snoring is impacting your relationship, and causing you lost sleep. You will both benefit from treating the snoring, so encourage your partner to seek treatment from a snoring expert. 

The first thing to do is to determine if their breathing stops or snoring stops for brief periods of time (could be a sign of sleep apnea).  If so, or you hear then grunt or choke, seek medical attention immediately.

Make sure you understand the various physical causes of snoring—check my answer for What is snoring?

If sleep apnea is not a concern then there are several possible steps:

  1. Reduce nasal congestion - this can be done one of several ways: an over the counter nasal decongestant, prescription nasal steroid spray, nasal saline wash, over the counter internal or external nasal dilators.
  2. Next try to determine if the snoring is coming from the mouth. If so there are jaw re-positioners that can slightly move the jaw forward and open up the airway, or tongue re-positioners that can keep your tongue from falling to the back of the throat and causing the narrowing.
  3. There are also pillows on the market that can help re-position the head to open up the airway and allow for better airflow. 
  4. Surgical procedures have been developed to remove excess tissue, reposition the jaw, shrink the tongue, firm up the palate, or open up the nose. These are usually performed by an ENT surgeon.

Behavioral methods could include: ear plugs, sound machines, a pillow barrier between you and your partner, try moving the snorer to their side position for sleeping and as a last resort one of you moving to another room.

Stuck beside a snoring partner? You don't have to suffer. In this video, sleep specialist Dr. Michael Breus offers tips that can cut down on noise in a few different ways.


Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
You think secondhand smoke is bad? Think about secondhand sleep. Spouses lose an average of one hour a night of sleep because of their partners' snoring (not continuous, but a cumulative effect of a minute here and there). If you're suffering, earphones playing white noise or meditation-type music can help. So can separate bedrooms.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.