At some point or another, we’re all bound to spend a night or two sleeping next to a person who snores. In fact, many of us spend our whole lifetimes this way. And although we love our partners dearly, their snoring can wreak havoc on our own sleep habits. So I’ve decided to write this guide on blocking out snoring noises for everyone who’s currently living in a similar situation.
Before I talk about some noise-canceling products you can use, I’m going to delve into the subject. Aside from sharing some of the quiet products that can disguise or block out the sound of snoring, I’ve also found some temporary and permanent ways to fix the snoring altogether. But before we talk about any of those, we have to understand what snoring is and what causes it.
No matter how you feel about snoring, you have to acknowledge that it’s not the most pleasant experience for the person who’s doing the snoring either. After all, snoring can be caused by any number of things, some of which can develop into serious health concerns.
What Causes Snoring?
When a person snores, they’re breathing through an obstruction in their nose or throat. So what you end up hearing is the air pushing through these channels, thereby causing the tissues to vibrate.
As a rule, men snore more often than women because they naturally have narrower air passages. Moreover, many other hereditary factors play a part in snoring. Aside from being born with a predisposition, though, many other factors can make snoring worse. For example, people tend to snore more if they’re:
- In the habit of over-imbibing. People who drink alcoholic beverages or smoke a lot often snore the loudest. In addition, people who take tranquilizers or some types of painkillers snore more often, because the medication relaxes their muscles.
- Sleeping in certain positions. Once again, this is all about loosening your muscles. Some sleeping positions tend to leave your nose and throat more open, so it’s best to avoid those.
- Experiencing sinus issues. We tend to experience more snoring when we’re sick. So if you or your partner experience a lot of nasal issues, a trip to the doctor’s office may be in order.
- Past middle age. As we age, everything tends to get looser, which means that more tissue can vibrate as we breathe. There’s no cure for old age, as they say. But you could try to postpone this by working on the muscles of your throat.
- Out of shape. Just like when you grow old, being out of shape means that you don’t have enough muscle definition in your throat. Consequently, the loose muscles or fatty tissue in your throat are going to vibrate as you breathe in.
Furthermore, there are also some medical conditions that can cause snoring as well.
The really dangerous thing about snoring is that it can easily transition into choking, especially if you’re dealing with one of the following medical conditions.
Sleep apnea is one of the most famous causes of snoring. However, although the condition does make patients snore, it’s also so much worse than that.
Essentially, sleep apnea is a breathing obstruction that happens during sleep. The patients repeatedly stop breathing for short periods at a time — that can turn into longer periods without air and even choking. If you don’t know whether you have sleep apnea or not, you can:
- Ask your partner to check in on you while you sleep.
- Install one of those apps that keep track of your sleeping habits.
- Record audio or video of yourself sleeping.
- Set up a doctor’s appointment just in case!
Another and far more common reason for snoring is that the person still has all of their tonsils. Since we don’t really need the lymphatic tissue, many of us get our tonsils removed in childhood to defend against tonsillitis. If the inflammation isn’t dealt with in time, kids can experience sleep disturbances which can lead to other complications, such as mental illnesses.
The tonsils actually line our throats in pairs, except for the solitary adenoid tonsil. The adenoid is arguably the biggest noise maker, due to its position at the back of the nose. So most of the time doctors only remove the tonsils that are the closest to the mouth — the adenoid and the two palatine tonsils.
When these three tonsils are inflamed, they grow so large that they can potentially close off the throat entirely. Needless to say, this is incredibly dangerous and can lead to choking.
Fortunately, removing the tonsils is a relatively easy procedure. What’s more, it may be one that you’ll need to get more than once. The most problematic tonsil of them all — the adenoid — has the pesky habit of growing back! So even an adult who had their tonsils removed could still be snoring because of them.
Easy Tips and Tricks to Stop Snoring
There’s really no reason to be angry with your partner for snoring, and they certainly shouldn’t feel bad for something they can’t control. However, this past section of the article has hopefully shown you that some factors are, indeed, within your control.
So before you start buying noise-canceling products, you might as well have a chat with your partner. Here are some easy things they could do to lessen their snoring:
- To start with, they could lower their alcohol intake and stop smoking while they’re at it. These negative habits affect not only their breathing but many other functions as well. However, although this is technically the easiest thing a person can do for their health, many people are very much opposed to trying it.
- They might also try to avoid sleeping on the back. Instead, have your partner try sleeping on their side or even on the front. None of these positions are ideal in the long-term, but they’re still better for snoring than sleeping on your back. In fact, many people use pillows or a nifty tennis ball trick to prevent themselves from turning over onto their back.
- Since snoring is often caused by nasal issues, your partner could make cleaning out their sinuses a part of their nightly routine.
Aside from these relatively easy solutions, there are also some ways to fix even the more serious causes of snoring. Before I get into those, though, let’s talk about some things that can block out the sound of snoring.
How to Block out Snoring
Alright, so your partner has tried everything, but they’re still snoring? That’s alright — there are plenty of ways to cancel out the sound of snoring. After I go through some of my favorites, we can talk about some lifestyle changes and medical solutions that may stop the snoring for good.
1. Put in Some Noise Blocking Earmuffs
Obviously, one of the easiest ways to get rid of noises of any kind is to plug your ears. Well, I just so happen to have reviewed five of the best earmuffs for sleeping.
All of the products I’ve mentioned are comfortable and unobtrusive, and most of them will also cover your eyes to protect you from being woken by sudden lights.
If you had to pick one, I recommend going for this synthetic satin sleep mask (see on Amazon). The inner side of the mask is made of cotton, and the thick material will definitely act as a nice buffer for the noise. However, if that’s not your style, you can choose between several other products in my recommendations.
2. Sleep with Headphones and Earbuds
On the other hand, if you like to fall asleep to the sound of music, you can use one of these noise-canceling headphones or earbuds.
Several products I’ve listed are made specifically for sleeping, like this AcousticSheep Wireless SleepPhones. They’re headbands with headphones in them — what’s not to love? You can even slide them down over your eyes.
However, if you’d like to have headphones you might be able to use daily, these MAXROCK ones would fit the bill. The soft silicone shell of the earbuds will fit into your ear easily and won’t budge throughout the night. However, this product is wired, which may be a deal-breaker if you’re someone who likes to toss and turn in your sleep.
I’ve actually recommended several of both of these types of products in the article I’ve linked. So if you’d like to learn some more about noise-canceling headphones, you can start there.
3. Turn on a White Noise Machine
As I’ve said in many of my previous articles, white noise can be a big help when you’re trying to cancel out various noises. In fact, I’ve recommended the use of white noise machines for offices and even in bedrooms before.
Plenty of the devices I’ve mentioned in the article I’ve linked to would be great for the bedroom. However, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll recommend the SNOOZ machine. That machine even has an app so you can set it up from your bed.
But if you’re after something simple, the Aurola white noise machine would be perfect. You can even plug in your noise-canceling headphones and fall asleep to the sound of white noise or one of the 6 other nature noises the machine can play.
In fact, you can also just download a white noise app, or play your favorite music and radio instead of white noise. Whatever helps you sleep at night, right?
4. Keep Your Cool with White Noise Fans
In a recent article, I’ve talked about how having a fan in the bedroom can greatly improve the quality of your sleep. Well, if you want to combine the benefits you’d get from sleeping in a cool room and the noise-canceling abilities of a white noise machine, you could also get a white noise fan.
The white noise fans I’ve recommended in the article above make a low whirring noise that could disguise the sound of snoring. What’s more, the whirring noise could also lull you to sleep if you like that type of hypnotic repetition. And speaking of white noise, there’s also one more product you could try.
5. Breathe in Deep with an Air Humidifier
While I do have review of several air purifiers and dehumidifiers, I haven’t yet written about air humidifiers. However, during the course of my research on snoring, I’ve realized that humidifiers could be the perfect device for the occasion.
As I have mentioned, nasal issues are a common cause of snoring, so letting your nose and airway get dry could make the snoring worse. Having an air humidifier in the room would:
- Keep the air moist by releasing a cool (or warm, in some devices) mist, helping to alleviate dry nasal passages. Most air humidifiers also have the option to add essential oils for a bit of aromatherapy. A few drops of lavender oil will put you to sleep in style.
- Create a low whirring noise that’s similar to what a white noise fan would make.
On the other hand, if you only want the benefit of having higher humidity in the room, there are plenty of quiet air humidifiers on the market. For example, this LEVOIT humidifier would be perfect for the bedroom, and you could even control it with a remote control.
Permanent Fixes for Snoring
If the snoring is still distracting you even after your partner has implemented the quick-fix techniques and after you’ve tried to block out the sound, you’ll have to bring out the big guns.
Naturally, I’m talking about visiting a doctor. The first thing any doctor will tell you, though, is that a lifestyle change is necessary. All alcohol, smoking, and unnecessary medication is to be avoided.
Additionally, people who snore should ideally maintain a steady exercise regime. Exercise and weight loss can lead to a vast improvement in your partner’s sleep, as well as your own. In fact, it has plenty of other benefits, and it could also be a fun activity you do together.
There are also some specific throat and mouth exercises that may lead to a decrease in the loose tissue that vibrates when you breathe while unconscious. These exercises include:
- Chanting vowels out loud for a few minutes throughout the day.
- Moving your tongue toward the back of your mouth and holding it there for a minute or two.
- Tightening the muscle at the back of your throat with your mouth open. You can watch your uvula go up and down in a mirror.
- Also, with the lips open, moving the jaw side to side can tighten some muscles.
- Closing and tightening your lips and holding the muscles taut for a minute.
A doctor might also recommend one of the many anti-snoring devices on the market. One device called the CPAP machine, or the Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine, can even deal with sleep apnea. And if the snoring is really bad, there are several surgical procedures the doctor may recommend.
However, you’ll be pleased to learn that simple exercise should do the trick in most cases.
Ultimately, if the person who’s snoring is sleeping in the same room (or bed) as you, and they absolutely can’t stop snoring, you may just have to get used to it and just turn in before them. I’m sure many spouses race to be the first ones to fall asleep in order to avoid their partner’s snoring. However, that’s really not necessary.
As you’ve seen in this article, there are plenty of things that can stop snoring and many ways to block it from reaching your ears as well. You just have to make the best of your situation. And if all else fails, there’s no shame in sleeping in separate soundproof bedrooms, or separate beds with a soundproof room divider in between.