How to Sleep With a Snorer

Love can be blind and, for a while, even deaf. But snoring can take a heavy toll on a relationship. Sleeping in separate bedrooms is not your only option.

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Is there an anatomical abnormality? These can range from a deviated septum to extra tissue in the neck. If you suspect such a problem, it's time to talk to your doctor about a sleep study or polysomnogram, which involves a one-night test at a sleep center (average cost: $1,200, usually covered by health insurance).

During the sleep study, instruments measure heart, lung, and brain activity; breathing patterns; arm and leg movements; blood-oxygen levels; and how often the patient awakens during the night. The study can determine the origin and severity of the snoring. Depending on the cause, there are a number of surgical procedures that can be done.

The downside of surgery is that it can be very painful — and there's no guarantee that it will work in all cases, says Ron Kuppersmith, M.D., a surgeon at Virginia Mason Medical Center. The various procedures, often done on an outpatient basis, tend to cost between $1,500 and $2,500, and are covered by insurance if there is an underlying medical problem. Another possible solution is a mouth device that moves the lower jaw forward, thereby opening up the airway. The device can be fitted by a specially trained dentist and costs about $1,000.

Could It Be Dangerous?

Does he snort and gasp in his sleep, then feel tired all day? When a person has loud-intensity snoring, it is an alarm signal, Dr. Loube says. It is important to distinguish between benign snoring and a dangerous condition called sleep apnea.

A person with sleep apnea stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer several times every hour, all night long. As respiration is cut off, and the level of oxygen in the blood drops, he wakes up briefly to reopen his airway, then resumes breathing with a snort. When you go from being fast asleep to suddenly awake, it's very stressful on the body, Dr. Kuppersmith says. According to the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, up to half of all people with sleep apnea have high blood pressure, which raises the risk of stroke and heart failure. The majority also suffer from daytime drowsiness and are more likely to have car accidents than people without the condition. One explanation of why married men live longer than single men is that their wives discover the sleep apnea problem and get them care, Ware says.