Getting a good night’s sleep when a bed partner or roommate is snoring can be a challenge. People can try different ways to block out the noise, but many strategies require the cooperation of the person who snores. 

Almost everyone snores once in a while. Among people aged 30 to 60 years old, about 44% of males and 28% of females snore regularly, although they may not know it or it may not bother them. But for people who can’t sleep because of someone’s snoring, it can affect their own health and daily functioning as well as their relationship with the person who snores. 

Listen to White Noise

White noise can mask the sound of snoring. A white noise machine placed next to the bed or white noise earbuds may cover up the sound of someone snoring. There are also smartphone apps that play white noise. 

While research has not shown that white noise improves sleep, white noise does not appear harmful to sleepers. Keep in mind that white noise could interfere with noises that may be important to hear, like a crying baby or a morning alarm. 

Use Earplugs

Earplugs are another option that can potentially block out the sound of someone snoring. In a small study of couples where one partner snored, wearing earplugs improved perceived snoring severity as well as the sleep-related quality of life.

Sleep in a Different Room

If white noise or earplugs are not an option, or they do not help, a person may want to move to a separate room from the snoring partner at bedtime. Sleeping separately helps to reduce sleep interruptions and often allows both partners to improve their sleep quality.

Go to Sleep Before Someone Who Snores

While it has not been studied, it is possible that someone who is in a deeper stage of sleep may not be woken as easily by noises such as snoring. Someone whose sleep is disturbed by snoring may want to experiment with falling asleep before the person who snores comes to bed.

What Causes Snoring?

Snoring is caused by an obstruction in the nose or throat that partially blocks breathing during sleep. In some cases, a person snores when their tongue or the tissue in the back of the throat relaxes while they sleep. For others, snoring occurs when a physical structure in the nose or throat gets in the way of breathing such as large tonsils or a deviated septum. The vibration of the tissue or physical structure involved creates the sound of snoring. 

A number of factors can increase the likelihood that a person will snore, including:

  • Drinking alcohol or taking sedatives near bedtime
  • Having obesity
  • Smoking 
  • Being pregnant 
  • Nasal congestion, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum 
  • Aging 

While some snoring is harmless, people who snore may have a sleep-related breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A person who has OSA usually snores loudly and makes gasping or choking sounds that may cause them to wake up. Anyone who has signs of OSA should see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

“Habitual disrupting snoring may have potential serious health consequences, but several solutions and treatments exist.”

Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician

How to Stop Someone From Snoring

If the person who snores is willing, there are many things they can do to try to stop snoring. Some are relatively easy, like trying a new pillow. Other methods are more complex and require a doctor visit. 

  • Change Sleeping Position: Many people snore when lying flat on their back, so encouraging them to sleep on their side or with their head elevated may help. Getting someone to sleep on their side instead of their back may take some practice or a home remedy such as sewing a ball into the back of their pajama top so that it is uncomfortable for them to sleep on their back. 
  • Try an Anti-Snoring Pillow: Some pillows are designed to position the head and neck in a way that may limit snoring. Someone who snores should try a special wedge pillow under their upper body or use blocks under the bed’s front legs to raise it.
  • Encourage Lifestyle Changes: Weight loss may help some people stop snoring. Doctors also recommend that people stop smoking and do not drink alcohol or take sedatives before going to bed to reduce snoring.
  • Ask a Healthcare Professional: Suggest your partner seek an evaluation for possible health or anatomy issues causing snoring. Dental appliances and some types of surgery may be needed in cases of severe snoring that cannot be resolved with more conservative measures.

Could Sleeping While Someone Is Snoring Affect Your Health?

When someone’s snoring makes it hard for a person to sleep, it can affect the person’s physical and mental health. A lack of sleep can potentially impact work , school, social activities, relationships, and driving. 

“Snoring is like potholes on a road. Frequently seen but never good for any car. If you repeatedly hit them, the car will eventually need repairs.”

Dr. Abhinav Singh, Sleep Physician

The effects of sleep deprivation vary from person to person and may include:

  • Daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  • Accidents and mistakes 
  • Difficulty concentrating and learning 
  • Poor memory 
  • Decreased mood and irritability 
  • Depression 
  • Low libido
  • Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
Learn more about our Editorial Team

5 Sources

  1. Capezuti, E., Pain, K., Alamag, E., Chen, X., Philibert, V., & Krieger, A. C. (2022). Systematic review: Auditory stimulation and sleep. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 18(6), 1697–1709.
  2. Rowley, J. A. (2023, January 6). Snoring in adults. In M. S. Badr (Ed.). UpToDate.
  3. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2021, July 19). Snoring – adults. MedlinePlus.
  4. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2022, March 24). Sleep deprivation and deficiency.
  5. Cirelli, C. (2022, October 10). Insufficient sleep: Definition, epidemiology, and adverse outcomes. In R. Benca (Ed.). UpToDate.

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