People may wonder how to sleep when someone is snoring. They can try playing a white noise machine throughout the night, wearing earplugs, or listening to relaxing music before bedtime.

Sleeping alongside an individual who snores may reduce sleep quality. Findings indicate this has multiple effects on mental and physical health. Asking the snoring partner to try different sleeping positions can promote good sleep quality for both individuals. These positions can include sleeping with the head elevated.

This article discusses how to sleep when someone snores and looks at measures a person can take. It also examines the possible benefits of having the snorer sleep with their head elevated and avoid sleeping on their back.

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White noise machines make soothing sounds, such as ocean waves or rain. The idea is to play it throughout the night to mask or reduce the disruptiveness of sounds in the environment, such as snoring.

While there are no studies on how the machines mask snoring, some research has explored how they work to camouflage other noises. However, the results are inconsistent.

What research says

An older 2016 study tested the effectiveness of a white noise machine on 60 people in a coronary care unit. Researchers found that the machine could mask environmental hospital noises, allowing a person to improve and maintain sleep.

In contrast, a 2020 review found little evidence supporting the use of continuous white noise to promote sleep. The researchers note that further studies are necessary, particularly because the machines may negatively affect hearing. Additionally, some studies in the review suggest that white noise machines may actually disrupt sleep.

Another possible solution involves wearing earplugs, which are available in various forms. Earmuffs are another alternative, which block noise by covering the entire outer ear.

An older 2006 study evaluated the value of earplugs in people who snore and their partners. The results suggest that earplugs may offer short-term relief for some of the effects of disruptive snoring.

Researchers have not studied the effect of listening to music on sleep in the context of snoring. However, the practice may benefit insomnia in general, based on results from a 2022 review. The authors assessed data from 13 studies with 1,007 participants. Most of the studies instructed the participants to listen to relaxing music at bedtime, with sessions ranging from 25–60 minutes.

The authors concluded that relaxing music may improve subjective sleep quality in people with insomnia. Subjective means the evidence derives from the participants’ perspective rather than measurable objective evidence.

Sometimes, asking the snorer to try different sleeping positions can be beneficial:

Have them sleep with their head elevated

A 2022 study looked at having snorers sleep with the head of the bed elevated or with a shoulder-head elevation pillow. It found that they experienced a reduction in snoring duration using these techniques. Partners of snorers also woke them less frequently to stop them from snoring. This suggests that a partner may sleep better.

Ensure they avoid sleeping on their back

A 2019 review examined avoiding the back-lying position to prevent snoring. It concluded there is a lack of clinical trials supporting the technique’s effectiveness. The authors also urged future research to investigate this. However, as avoiding the back-lying position is a simple measure, it may still be worth trying.

An older 2016 study reports that females who sleep alongside male snorers have decreased sleep quality.

This reduction in sleep quality can have an array of negative health effects. A 2017 review investigated the consequences of sleep deficiency that stem from various causes. It found both short- and long-term effects.

Short-term effects included:

  • increased stress
  • decreased quality of life
  • thinking difficulties, including with memory and the ability to perform tasks
  • behavior difficulties

Long-term health effects included increased risk of:

  • high blood pressure
  • cardiovascular disease, or conditions affecting the heart and blood vessels, such as heart attacks
  • unhealthy levels of fat in the blood
  • weight-related difficulties
  • type 2 diabetes
  • metabolic syndrome, wherein a person has several health effects associated with cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes
  • certain cancers

If possible, encourage the snoring partner to seek treatment for their snoring.

Effects on relationships

Some evidence suggests that sleep difficulties and relationship problems tend to co-occur. An older 2010 study reports that sleep interference from a spouse’s or partner’s snoring may lead to anger and resentment, affecting physical intimacy.

Staggering sleeping times or sleeping separately are some measures a couple can take.

People often seek information about how to sleep when someone is snoring. Although most remedies have little research to support them, there are some things a person can try. These include playing a white noise machine, wearing earplugs, and listening to music before bedtime. It may also help to ask the snorer to sleep with their head elevated or avoid sleeping on their back.

Sleeping with an individual who snores can affect sleep quality, which may lead to negative health effects. These can include increased stress and memory difficulties or a higher risk of health conditions.