May 08, 2024 3 min read

With half of the population snoring frequently and nearly everyone snoring on occasion [1], you will probably find yourself sleeping next to a snorer at some point in your life. The snorer could be a family member, your spouse, a friend, a roommate or a fellow passenger on a long flight. 

But no matter the person or occasion, snoring is annoying and can disrupt your own sleep. So, if you find yourself in such a situation, is it ever ok to wake the snorer and ask them to stop the noise?

Is Waking a Snorer OK?

Because people don’t snore on purpose, it can feel insensitive or rude to wake the snorer. After all, they can’t control their snoring habit, so what’s the point? Many snorers are also in denial about their snoring and may react with irritability to your requests to keep it quiet.

But waking a snorer can be helpful in some cases. Gently nudging the snorer and telling them to switch to a side-sleeping position, for example, is often quite effective. A study involving 16 snorers and sleep apnea patients examined to what level switching to this sleep position helps stop snoring [2]. What it found was that this sleep position reduced mild snoring by 80%. Older research found that sleep apnea is also twice as severe when people sleep on their backs [3].

But of course, waking the snorer doesn’t always work. If they’re a heroic snorer or have untreated sleep apnea, they’ll likely snore in every sleeping position. In many cases, snoring-back sleepers revert back to their natural sleep position as soon as they fall asleep again. 

What to Do About Someone’s Snoring

If the snorer in question is someone close to you and if their snoring is loud and frequent, you should first encourage them to see a sleep specialist. 

Habitual snoring, defined as snoring more than two nights a week, is one of the first signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) [4]. OSA is a serious condition marked by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep. Untreated, it increases a person’s risk of high blood pressure, stroke and even depression [5]. So getting screened is important to ensure someone’s snoring problem isn’t a sign of OSA.

In the meantime, you can take these precautionary steps to ensure you’re getting your much-needed rest: 

  1. Ask the snorer to let you fall asleep first. This way, chances of their snoring preventing you from dozing off are reduced. 

  1. Use noise-canceling earbuds. Bose Sleepbuds are highly popular among light sleepers because they’re quite effective in blocking outside noise and offer dozens of soothing sounds that promote sleep. 

  1. A more affordable and silent option if you don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on earbuds are earplugs. Foam, flanged and silicone putty earplugs are life savers when you find yourself sleeping next to a heroic snorer.  

  1. If possible, turn on some white noise on a white noise machine or an app. White noise contains all sound frequencies in equal measure. Studies have found that it helps people living in noisy environments fall asleep faster [6].

  1. Get a sleep divorce or sleep in separate rooms/tents, accommodations. There’s nothing wrong about removing yourself from a situation if that means you get to sleep soundly. 

  1. Gift the snorer an oral appliance. If your snorer is willing to do something about their chronic snoring, an oral appliance such as the  Good Morning Snore Solution device can do wonders. This device is a tongue stabilizer that is clinically proven to reduce snoring in at least 73% of users [7].


  1. Rowley JA, Badr MS, Eichler AF. UpToDate. Updated Jan 06, 2023. Snoring in adults.,is%20almost%20universal%20%5B2%5D.

  1. Lee JB, Park YH, Hong JH, et al. Determining optimal sleep position in patients with positional sleep-disordered breathing using response surface analysis.J Sleep Res. 2009;18(1):26-35.doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00703.x

  1. Cartwright RD. Effect of sleep position on sleep apnea severity.Sleep. 1984;7(2):110-114.doi:10.1093/sleep/7.2.110

  1. Young T, Palta M, Dempsey J, Skatrud J, Weber S, Badr S. The occurrence of sleep-disordered breathing among middle-aged adults. N Engl J Med. 1993;328(17):1230-1235.doi:10.1056/NEJM199304293281704

  1. Young T, Palta M, Dempsey J, Peppard PE, Nieto FJ, Hla KM. Burden of sleep apnea: rationale, design, and major findings of the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort study.WMJ. 2009;108(5):246-249.

  1. Ebben MR, Yan P, Krieger AC. The effects of white noise on sleep and duration in individuals living in a high noise environment in New York City.Sleep Med. 2021;83:256-259.doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2021.03.031

  1. Dort L, Brant R. A randomized, controlled, crossover study of a noncustomized tongue retaining device for sleep disordered breathing.Sleep Breath. 2008;12(4):369-373.doi:10.1007/s11325-008-0187-5

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