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Rachel Responds

Student asks advice to cope with snoring friend

Rachel Woodman

February 10, 2012

Britney asks: “What do I do about my snoring roommate?”

You’ve lost yourself in a magical world of blankets and warmth. You’ve found that perfect comfy. That perfect snuggle between your blankets, pillows and maybe even a Mr. or Mrs. (or someone that is applying for that job) when SNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRKAH-KAH-KAH, the snoring begins. But this isn’t your snoring! It is somebody else’s and that is no good, sleep stealing, energy zapping, connoisseur of loud isn’t going to let you partake in that same amazing slumber they seem to be having right now. So what do you do? Before turning to violence, read this:

The frustration of losing sleep due to another person’s snoring is one shared by many. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAOHNSF) nearly 45 percent of people snore and 25 percent have a snoring problem. However, snoring is not an indication of someone sleeping deeply.

According to AAO-HNSF, snores are caused by “an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose.” The National Sleep Foundation explained the phenomenon best, stating, “while you sleep, the muscles of your throat relax, your tongue falls backward, and your throat becomes narrow and ‘floppy.’” If you’re a light sleeper you may be frustrated by Snoracle Jones seemingly taking sleep from you but the act of snoring is disruptive to Jones also. Both parties suffer.

Knowing what happens during a heavy snore session is helpful information (especially if you have begun to grow animosity towards your roommate, partner or habitat companion) but knowing is only half the battle. So how do you affect change?

First, research the type of snoring they are doing. According to helpguide.org, how a person snores can indicate what is causing it. Closed-mouth snoring may be a sign of a problem with the tongue whereas open-mouth snoring may be associated with the tissues in the throat. Snoring when sleeping on the back is likely mild, easily resolved, however, snoring in all sleep positions can suggest a more severe form that requires medical treatment. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused when someone stops breathing for ten seconds at a time, multiple times throughout the night, causing poor air circulation in the blood making the heart work harder. OSA can cause a barrage of health risks beyond poor sleep alone.

Second, you need to talk to the snorer so they can work towards a solution. Nothing you do will stop their snoring. Nudging them in their sleep will only awaken their throat muscles long enough for a few non-snore breaths. Once those muscles relax you’ll be back to square one. Yes, it can be a bit uncomfortable talking to them because it isn’t their fault and there’s a chance they may feel offended. However, avoiding this conversation isn’t benefiting anyone. Their sleep is suffering also and your friendship could also suffer if you begin to misdirect your anger towards them. To avoid sounding hostile don’t have the conversation in the morning, while you’re frustrated, wait until you both have some free time and are not stressed.

Third, encourage them to go to the doctor if you both are concerned it could be serious. If they are a student at the UW-River Falls they can visit the River Falls Clinic without a co-pay to talk about their concerns. Otherwise, point them to this article and encourage them to try some or all of the following basic remedies:

Tips to stop snoring:

1. Switch up your plan of sleep attack: Don’t sleep on your back. This position causes snoring more often than any other does.

2. Get over-hydrated and out of control: Drink plenty of fluids before you sleep to prevent your throat from drying.

3. Don’t drink and doze: Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills or heavy meals four to five hours before bedtime.

4. Have some pillow talk: This is where you say, “it’s not you, it’s me” and ditch that pillow around your six-month anniversary. Tossing it in the air fluff cycle of your dryer will also help. Dust mites collect in your pillows and allergens can contribute to snoring.

Thanks for the question, Britney! Anyone may submit questions, concerns or quandaries to questionsforrachel@ live.com. Please send them right away if you’d like to see them in the next Student Voice. Don’t forget to like “Rachel Responds” on Facebook and follow “RachelResponds” on Twitter.

Rachel Woodman is a senior majoring in marketing communications and minoring in journalism. She loves to work hard, play hard, and use clichés! Look for her Facebook page “Rachel Responds” and email her your questions or topic ideas to QuestionsForRachel@live.com.