If you have a snoring partner, you probably know the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night. If you’ve spent enough time with your partner, you might even have noticed that there’s a pattern to how it wakes you up. Maybe it happens at certain times each night, or perhaps it’s only on certain nights that you wake up.

Here’s what’s behind the pattern: why you wake up at some times or on certain days. 

woman plugging her ears in bed while partner snores next to her

Why Snoring Wakes You Up at Certain Times

One thing we hear from many people is that snoring tends to wake them up at certain times of the night. This might seem mysterious, but there’s a good explanation: your sleep cycle.

There are five stages of sleep:

  • Stage 1: Starting to doze off
  • Stage 2: Light sleep
  • Stage 3: Moderate sleep
  • Stage 4: Deep sleep
  • Stage 5: REM sleep

REM sleep is when we dream and experience other critical brain functions. It accounts for about 30% of our sleep time when we get healthy sleep. Stage 2 accounts for about half of all our sleep time.

Stage 2 is also the lightest of the sleep stages. It’s when we’re most likely to be disturbed by noises. Our body moves through the sleep cycle regularly. This means that it tends to take about the same amount of time to reach the same sleep stages each night. So, if you go to bed at the time each night, you’re likely to reach stage 2 at the same time each night, which is when snoring is most likely to wake you up. This explains why snoring tends to wake people up around the same time each night.

Why Snoring Wakes You Up on Certain Nights

Other people tell us that their partner’s snoring only wakes them up on certain nights. This isn’t related to the sleep cycle: it’s more likely to be related to changes in your partner’s snoring.

Our brain wakes up in response to noises, but it also tries to get as much sleep as possible. To balance the competing demands, it learns which sounds are normal for our environment during sleep.

So, for example, if your house is off a busy roadway,  your brain learns that traffic noise is a normal part of your sleep environment. It tunes it out so you can keep sleeping. The same happens with snoring. 

If your partner snores every night, your brain gets used to the sound and you learn to sleep through it. But there are many things that can cause your partner’s snoring to be worse on some nights. For example, if they drank more alcohol than usual or closer to bedtime, their snoring might be worse. Seasonal allergies, colds, certain foods, and sleep position can also all contribute to making your partner’s snoring worse.

Whether It Wakes You or Not, Snoring Should Be Treated

Although it might only wake you up at certain times or certain nights, it’s likely that your partner is constantly snoring. In fact, their snoring might be a sign of a much more serious condition they experience, called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is more than just a nuisance, it can be deadly. 

If you are looking for help with snoring or sleep apnea, please call (248) 480-0085 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ and Sleep Wellness.