It's a noise millions of us live with every day. How bad it is depends on whether you are the snorer, or the "snoree." Whether it sounds like a train, a pig, or a bear, snoring can affect people at any age--both men and women--and can worsen as you get older.
It can also take its toll on families. Just ask Bill and Samara Rozier. By day, Bill is a civil engineer. He gets home around 6pm, just in time to have dinner with his three children.
But it's when the lights go out, and all is calm, that the real activity begins. Bill snores.
"I am a self-professed snorer, that's a fact," laughed Bill.
His wife agreed. "Oh my gosh, it sounds like a freight train. And it varies in pitch. It's not something you can get used to."
Bill's snoring has become a joke among the family, but the noise soon affected his health and his day-to-day activities. "I always felt tired," said Bill. "I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't focus. You would think someone in their 30s, after eight hours of sleep, would be feeling great. But I would wake up thinking to myself, 'I've only got 16 more hours until I can go back to sleep.'"
Bill's snoring also began to take a toll on his new marriage. "When we went on our honeymoon, I was very nervous that I was going to go five nights without any sleep," explained Samara. "I actually was planning in my mind what I could do, including making a palette in the bathroom if I had to to get some rest."
It only got worse. After the honeymoon, instead of counting sheep, Samara was counting the number of snores Bill let out. It got so bad, Samara banished Bill from the bedroom.
Both say they were frustrated with the snoring, and with each other.
"Here we are, newlyweds, already sleeping in separate bedrooms," said Bill. "It takes a psychological toll on your marriage. There's nothing meant by it, but it seems odd sleeping apart like that."
Samara agreed. "That's right. It's not what you imagined it was going to be like. But you do whatever can to get some rest."
Bill and Samara are not alone. Snoring affects approximately 90 million American adults, 37 million on a regular basis. It occurs more frequently in men, and people who are overweight. Snoring does have a tendency to worsen with age. Forty-five percent of adults snore occasionally, while 25 percent are considered habitual snorers.
"Snoring is a noise, or a racket due to a partial blockage of an airway," explained Dr. Anthony Costrini.
Dr. Costrini has specialized in sleep disorders for more than 30 years. He is a sleep disorder specialist at Costrini Sleep Services, and said about 60 percent of his patients complain of snoring.
"Patients frequently have to move out of the bedroom. That's not what most people had envisioned when they got married," said Dr. Costrini.
Snoring occurs when air flows past relaxed tissues in your throat, like your tonsils, tongue, or soft palette. It causes the tissues to vibrate as you breathe, creating hoarse or harsh sounds. It usually happens when you sleep on your back.
"Do you ever wake up at the end of an elbow?" asked Dr. Costrini.
Sometimes, even that isn't enough. Just ask the Roziers. "We were literally fighting with each other at night," said Bill. "One of us would just get frustrated and leave and go into the other room. It was not a good situation."
Does this sound familiar? The Roziers are not alone. Couples become irritated with each other because of the lack of sleep.
So what are the solutions? The next step may be over-the-counter products, some as close as your local grocery store, or even in your own backyard. We'll explain tomorrow on THE News at 6.