If you snore or know someone who does, there is a wide range of treatment options that can help.  My practice is dedicted to the surgical evaluation and treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, and anyone should feel free to contact me via e-mail or finding more information about seeing me as a patient here.  In addition to conservative treatment options, there are procedures such as the Pillar Procedure and palate radiofrequency that have relatively little pain and can make major improvements in snoring in certain patients.  The keys to achieving good results with these treatments are experience with performing the procedure and–just as important–the evaluation to determine whether they are good choices for an individual patient.

Snoring can be a major issue, as those who snore can present major problems for anyone in the bedroom–or anyone within earshot–who might be awakened from sleep by the loud, irregular sound that can occur.  However, I have always been struck by patients who report that they wake up because of the sound of their own snoring.  The accepted thinking among sleep experts is that there could be a number of reasons that patients who snore may awaken from sleep but that the snoring sound itself was likely not one of them.  This seemed unlikely based on studies suggesting that during sleep the brain becomes used to one’s own snoring (a process called habituation) and based on the experience with countless patients with sleep studies and no obvious awakenings with snoring unless there was also blockage of breathing, as in obstructive sleep apnea.  But the widespread rejection of snoring sound as a cause of sleep arousals was simply an educated guess, based on years of experience but not much concrete evidence.

First study to address this question systematically

A study published in this month’s issue of the medical journal SLEEP included a study specifically examining whether snoring sound wakes up the snorer.  Researchers at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center enrolled 400 patients who were getting sleep studies in their laboratory.  One-half of them randomly received earplugs to wear during their sleep study (and before, to get used to them) in order to reduce the loudness of their own snoring.  The sophisticated part of the study was their use of a previously-tested complex analysis of brain waves to determine subtle awakenings from sleep not visible to the naked eye.  They were able to analyze periods of snoring without obstructive sleep apnea events (apneas and hypopneas) using an electronic algorithm they had previously developed and tested.  This allowed them to determine 5 different types of respiratory-cycle related electoencephalographic changes (RCREC), with arousals from sleep reflected most in 2 types (increase in 1 and decrease in the other).

Sound of snoring may be waking up snorers

The group wearing the earplugs had slightly less of the latter key type of RCREC, suggesting that the sounds of snoring may wake up snorers themselves.  The effect was mainly seen in men, and there was the suggestion that it was more of a factor in those who were not obese (body mass index less than 30 kg/m-2) and those who also had some degree of obstructive sleep apnea (apnea-hypopnea index > 10 events/hour).   The study had a number of other limitations that the authors raised in the paper, such as the lack of comparing the same person on 2 different nights, with and without earplugs.  Importantly, the effect was only seen in 1 type of RCREC, albeit 1 of the 2 types that appears to be most important for sleep quality.  The authors also point out that the arousals may not be due to the snoring itself but may be related to the increased breathing effort that often occurs with snoring.

The bottom line: more research is needed to examine the impact of the sound of snoring

To some extent, it may not matter if snoring wake you up from sleep because of the snoring sound, increased work of breathing, or something else.  If snoring without sleep apnea interferes with the ability to obtain refreshing sleep, it could explain sleepiness and fatigue and would argue for more-aggressive treatment of snoring.  However, this initial study does not prove that we need to be over-aggressive in treating all snoring, as physicians must consider whether individual patients have snoring that affects themselves and/or others.  Nothing has changed there.  Nevertheless, this study is the first to examine whether the snoring sound might be waking up the snorers themselves and should lead us to question what had been the conventional wisdom that overlooked this possibility.

35 Responses to “Does your own snoring wake you up from sleep?”

  1. Richard Owen

    Waking yourself up with loud snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, always good to mention this to your doctor, apnea can be a potentially serious disorder.

    Reply
  2. Dr. Deb

    I don’t really understand this study. when you wear earplugs and you speak, your own voice is actually quite loud in your head. they are assuming that earplugs will reduce the snorer’s perception of the sound of their own snoring, when to me, someone who wears earplugs daily, it seems obvious that the earplugs will INCREASE their perception of the sound of their own snoring.

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      Great point. Clearly we do not understand entirely how the sound of snoring affects the snorer. Earplugs would be expected to change the sound characteristics of your snoring, not simply lower the volume, but some of these changes are also not well understood. The basic premise behind the study is that it was always assumed that someone would not have sleep disruption related to their own snoring because, effectively, they would be accustomed to their own snoring and have no sleep disruption. This study showed that differential sound characteristics created by earplugs (vs. no earplugs) were associated with changes in arousals from sleep.

      Reply
    • Mona noweir

      I believe what you suggest, I suffer destructive sleep apnea which was diagnosed through out 2 night of sleep study.
      I wear ear plugs for more then 10 years, I hear nothing but my own snoring, which wakes me up the second I go in stage one sleep which cause me sleep deprivation, dangerously I get sleep attak sleep/ driving to work, sleep attached at work etc

      Reply
  3. astrovart

    My own snoring wakes me up and I’m exhausted.

    The thing is, I have a really hard time trying to fall asleep because just when that happens, I start snoring so it wakes me up. My brain can remember the sound of the snore, so I know. Also, I snore with my mouth closed. My current doctor doesn’t believe it, he says that is impossible, but it is not. This has been happening for a week and it is actually driving me crazy because as soon as I feel I’m falling asleep, I get nervous because I don’t want to snore so I wake up. I’m exhausted. I am a slim man, 40 years old.

    Although I used to snore, this waking up thing never happened before. It started only a week ago and I SUSPECT it’s related to a pill called neugeron, which my neurologist gave me. I have stopped taking this pill only five days ago, for which I hope I will return to snore “normally” when my body gets rid of this chemical. If not, I should consider other measures.

    Do you have any advise for me in the meantime? I would very much appreciate it. Thank you.
    C

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      First, it is definitely possible to snore with your mouth closed. Although mouth opening typically makes snoring worse, most of my patients also snore with their mouth closed.

      There are many medications that can contribute to snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. While there is a medication called Neugeron that has a generic name of carbamazepine, that is not a brand name used in the United States. This medicine can affect your brain and nervous system, possibly contributing to snoring and sleep apnea. Obviously, one way to learn its effects is to wait to see what happens when you have been off the medication for some time.

      Finally, as far as waking yourself up when you start snoring, everyone is a little different. Many people will snore or have a startle/jumping movement as they fall asleep, and this is normal. The name for these is hypnic jerks, and they are neither worrisome or treatable. While many people are distressed by this, reassurance that these are normal and common hopefully can let you just continue to fall asleep and not let this bother you as much.

      Reply
    • Rob

      astrovart,

      I know exactly how you feel – the same thing happens to me and it’s become a really, really bad pattern for me over the last 6-12 months. As soon as I am in that “la la land” right before actually sleeping, I snore just a little … and it yanks me back to consciousness. It’s like getting poked by someone as soon as you start dozing off, over and over again! I am currently trying to get a sleep study done, although really think mine is not a full blown apnea, or even close to that. It’s tough being in that gray area – and wonder if a cpap machine would actually help with this this condition.

      Anyway – my two cents.

      Reply
      • Deano

        I know exactly how you feel! I do the same thing. As soon as I’m falling asleep, I snort/grunt and am jolted right back awake. I begin to snore before I’m even asleep and it startles me.

        Seems to be worse if I’ve consumed alcohol but even then it’s very random.

        Reply
      • Joe

        Hello my name is Joe and I have been experiencing these symptoms too! I would like to ask you if you got some relief and if you could share your experience with me .. thanks would appreciate your feedback

        Reply
        • Dr. Kezirian

          I am not sure what you are asking. Patients often get major improvements in snoring with these treatments, and the nice thing is that it also helps out anyone sleeping in the same bedroom–or, in some cases of loud snoring, anyone in neighboring rooms!

          Reply
    • Jim Bob

      No you not alone brother. I either snore myself awake at the precise moment I fall asleep or I make a kind of popping sound that wakes me up. It’s not like perpetual sleep deprivation torture. It is sleep deprivation torture. Going on for 2 years now and I now have all the symptoms of PTSD and GAD. It has destroyed my life and is close to destroying my marriage. ENT Doctors haven’t been much use. I just want to sleep!! I’m now considering the final option.

      Reply
  4. Karen

    I often wake myself up with the sound of my snore. I snore with my mouth closed. As I have gotten older and heavier, I can identify the mechanical action of my dropped palette surrounded by fat that has resulted in new snoring. My snores will sometimes get into my dreams and become some other noise I try and try to turn off, or I will struggle to wake myself up, and get very frustrated failing to get to consciousness before I succeed. I think I am getting acclimated to the sound, since I’m pretty sure I snore more than I hear it.

    Reply
  5. Jochen

    There have been a few rare occasions on which I managed to notice my own snoring during sleep and to force myself to wake up. When I do, it is out of a concern about bothering my wife who has enough trouble sleeping. As a child, I grew up listening to my mother complain about my father’s snoring, so I am terrified of causing that kind of distress to my wife.
    And when I do succeed in interrupting my own snore, it is with a sense of accomplishment, especially when my wife stayed asleep throughout.

    Reply
  6. Bernadette

    Through all my pregnacies I snored I believe it was from the weight gain. I always put like 5 lbs on over the winter and this winter probably 8. And I find myself waking myself up from snoring for one it is embarrassing , I thought only men did this, can it be from my weight gain

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      Absolutely. For a number of reasons, including weight gain, snoring and sleep apnea commonly develop in pregnant women. Any woman who develops snoring or other signs of sleep apnea during pregnancy should discuss this with their team caring for them during the pregnancy.

      Reply
  7. gregg

    I don’t snore thru my nose. When I sleep I breath thru my mouth and sometimes that area closes and I make a snoring sound. i wake up cause my breathing is obstructed. At the time it happens i wake up thinking a loud noise just happened and that is what woke me up. However, I meditate and the lighter state of rest allows me to be aware of suddenly having a closing feeling in the back of my throat, uvula, and I feel strangled for a second. I struggle to breath, make a snoring sound and snap out of a meditative state.

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      Thank you for sharing your experiences. These feelings are common with obstructive sleep apnea, and you should see a sleep specialist for an evaluation and possible sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea. Many patients who do not have sleep apnea do have feelings of strangulation or other times of struggling to breathe. There are a number of things that can be done to help, and you should see someone who focuses in this field to discuss the options, including possible sleep apnea or snoring surgery.

      Reply
  8. Maureen

    I have been having this problem for about 6 wks now. As I fall asleep, just at the threshold of sleep when I would drift off, I am awakened and startled by a loud snore or snort sound in my nostrils, or sometimes a rush of air. This will happen continually until I finally give up and get up and take a Klonopin. I am unable to fall asleep for naps, as well. The only thing that occasionally helps is falling asleep in front of the TV; sometimes I am able to drift off then. Has anyone heard of this? It is driving me a bit nuts and I am totally exhausted and discouraged. I went to an ENT and he told me you can’t wake up from your own snores, and said everything looks fine – “maybe it will go away.” Well, thanks, Einstein. Next, I am going to a sleep/pulmonary dr and hope he will be a bit more understanding. Any thoughts or input?

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      Various things can happen as we drift off to sleep, and most of them are not causes for concern. One is called hypnic jerks, where you can have sudden body movements. As long as these are not happening throughout the night, these snores/snorts are probably nothing to worry about, and a general recommendation is to try not to worry about them.

      Reply
      • Birdie

        Hi Doctor
        Well what happens then if they do wake you throughout the night?
        I got absolutely no sleep last night because each time I started to drift off, I would startle myself with my own snore. This happened all night, right through to morning. What do I do?

        Reply
        • Dr. Kezirian

          Many things – including brief snoring or even sudden body movements – can occur as we drift off and are actually within the range of normal, as long as they happen only at that time and are not associated with other issues. If you are concerned by the snoring and want to know whether you are snoring throughout the night, you can use one of many available smartphone apps like SnoreLab. Obviously, we all need to get enough sleep to function well, so hopefully this reassurance about snoring that happens only when you drift off is enough to let you not worry too much about it and get some rest.

          Reply
  9. Arthur Contreras

    I wake myself up from,my own snoring And on,occasions wake up gasping for air ha e tried to do a sleep study but need a doctor’s recommendation,but,it’s hard due to being a Traveling tech

    Reply
  10. Roberta Siena

    For the last week a new symptom: nasal snore wakes me up as I am dropping off to sleep. I’m an anxious person, late 60’s, with a history of insomnia so this is awful. Is surgery the answer to narrow nostrils? Could it be a polyp? I have an ENT apptmt. in Sacramento in a month or so. Not getting much sleep. I’m thinking about turning up the volume and watch a movie on my Kindle.

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      Surgery can address narrow nostrils, but the key is the cause of trouble breathing through your nose. This is something you can discuss with your physician.

      Reply
    • Chris

      Saline nasal sprays before you nod off. Make sure you are hydrated. Sleep propped upright at around a 40 degree angle with your head tilted to one side and aiming down. In my case it’s my left side. If I try my right side it doesn’t work.

      Reply
  11. Karolyn Bedford

    Yes my snoring always wakes me up, particularly if i take a nap. I am constantly tired and just dont slepp well. I work shift work and so i dont get regular sleep and i also suffer from PTSD which also wrecks havoc on my sleep.

    Reply
  12. Daniel Cheong

    I have been having this snoring issues since as a teenager . I am now 53 and still having the same issue. I remember doze off sleeping when iwas young. However an outing with a friend who told me that I snore make me conscious about it that I tried not snore when I sleep. It started off when I was finding a sleeping position that I could doze off easily wihout hearing my own snore.

    I found that sleeping on my stomach was the best position as I was producing the least noise. However as times pass, when I tried to sleep supine, I found that I cannot fall asleep as my own snore or snort would wake me up the moment of falling asleep. This can go own the whole night and I will not be able to fall asleep until I change back stomach sleeping position. As age grows, I am finding that stomach sleepong position also is now working anymore and now I am having falling asleep issue due to the snort. I thougut I am the only unique one but was surprise to see the comments here there many people who are having the same issues as me.

    I done 2 sleep test with mild apnea with good oxygen reading. Both nite also cannot sleep on supine. Ivam baseline BMI 30 and have done sub mucous resection on turbinate and straighten septum. No help. Tried radio frequency ablation. No help. Tried mandibular jaw advancement. Still snort awaken with device. Tried tongue retainer. Better result after dozing off on stomach postion I dun wake up that often in the middle of the night. But still cannot sleep supine.

    Try CPAP. Thru mouth and nostril and full mask. Cannot sleep because awaken by own snore or snore the whole night. CPAP only help when I am able to doze off and it kicks in during the night.

    My issue here is I wanted to sleep supine like everyone does but I cannot as my own snort or snore woild wake up me immediately the moment on the verge of dozing off. I am also having problem with hand finger numbness owing to sotmaxh sleeping position where I am a hand sleeper.
    I guess it is my uvula or palate giving me the loud snoring problem. I dont have daytime slepiness issues.
    Tried radio frequency ablation of palate or uvula but result is not good. Snore vibration is slower nut I can still my snort thatvwakes me up.

    Whay do you think is the problem? Can it be my sub conscious issue as I know alot of my friend who snore louder than me can sleep and snore easily. I wont snore and sleep as. Long as I can doze off easily without waking me up.

    Appreciate ur kind comments. Thanks

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      Thank you for sharing your experience, which certainly sounds frustrating. It is not really possible for me to discuss what might be occurring without having the chance to examine you. Would you be able to come see me for a proper evaluation in the office?

      Reply
  13. Johnny

    I’m John,28, this past months. I wake myself up from my own snoring. It is very frustrating hearing your own snore. What the best thing I can do? Than you.

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      If the snoring is consistently happening and waking you up (and others), you probably need a formal evaluation, including a sleep study.

      Reply
      • Ramos C

        Started like a clock around April following two events a septoplasty- which seemed ok, and 12 hours after removing the packing a posterior epistaxis that continued, controlled with balloons 5 days until the camera went in and then i in surgery for cauterization. Was initially told that my fatigue was related to iron levels following the bleeding.

        Then the zombie feelings begun- 1-2 hours post wakeup, yawning. Usually a coffee wires me up for 8 hours, and 8 hours of sleep wires me up for a day, NO COFFEE needed. two coffees now and I fall asleep everywhere.

        I also had a feeling of inhaling less air post ops, and if I tried harder something in the back the nose, between the uvula and the nose (so much higher than the uvula, it just snorts snorts. Same sound when snoring on recordings, mouth closed, and it wakes me up- indeed two causes: I sometimes hear it. And often as try harder and harder the effort wakes me up. I estimate that the longest stretch of no snoring I had was 1.5 hours in 7 full night recordings. Am presently booked for new ENT and a sleep study.

        Reply
        • Dr. Kezirian

          I am sorry that this septoplasty you had made things worse. You may have had some scarring after your bleeding, with narrowing of the space for breathing. It is great that you are not giving up. I wish you all the best.

          Reply
  14. Janice

    How can I not hear my own snoring, when I always hear when my husband snores. It wakes me. I am a light sleeper who has difficulty staying asleep because of little noises during the night. Doors being opened, someone walking past my bedroom door, someone coughing will wake me. I’ve always said I don’t snore, but my husband said I snore all the time. Why don’t I hear it and wake up?

    Reply
    • Dr. Kezirian

      People generally do not wake up to their own sounds, whether something like coughing, sniffling, or snoring. It is just that they are asleep and not awakened.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *