Now Or Never

First-time mom says pregnancy made her a 'snoring machine'

Jenny Yuen’s pregnancy-induced snoring was keeping her husband awake. But with so many different solutions available, they’ve found a combination that works and may help other couples experiencing the same sleepless nights.

In a 2013 study, 26 per cent of women self-reported that they started snoring during pregnancy

Thomas Christian, 36, and Jenny Yuen, 36, are excited to welcome their first child in January. But, first, they're learning to live with Jenny's pregnancy-induced snoring. (Submitted by Jenny Yuen)
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When Jenny Yuen's husband, Thomas Christian, told her she was keeping him up with her snoring, she felt both embarrassed and guilty.

The couple are expecting their first child, a girl, in January. During her second trimester, Yuen began snoring for the first time in her life.

Christian, a self-described "very light sleeper," instantly took notice.

"To be this snoring machine all of a sudden — I'm not feeling great about myself," Yuen told Now or Never. "Often times … I would wake up to hear him move pillows to the couch and I would wake up from that, and I would feel really bad about it."

Christian says he only turns to the couch as the last resort because the bed is much more comfortable. 

"I will move to the couch rather than, however tempting it is, nudging her in the night," said Christian. "It's still most important for me that Jenny has a good night sleep, so I try to avoid waking up her whenever possible."

Yuen isn't alone. In a study published in the medical journal Sleep in 2013, 26 per cent of women self-reported that they started snoring during pregnancy.

Some couples may choose to sleep in separate rooms to ensure a good night's sleep, but Yuen and Christian prefer to fall asleep and wake up together. Plus, they live in a one-bedroom suite, so the alternatives are limited.

Tips and tricks for a restful sleep

The couple has explored multiple options to deal with the sudden and — hopefully — temporary snoring.

"I'm a very A-type person, so I try to research and try to find solutions to a lot of problems," said Yuen.

For Yuen, a lavender eye pillow works well because she likes to feel the gentle pressure on her eyes. Lavender is an essential oil known for its calming and soothing properties that have been shown to reduce stress and aid with sleep.

A lavender eye pillow works well for Jenny because she likes to feel the gentle pressure on her eyes. Plus, lavender is known to aid with sleep. (Submitted by Jenny Yuen)

Christian puts lavender in a diffuser at night, which doubles as a white noise machine.

They admit that none of the techniques are 100 per cent effective, but they've found a combination that seems to work best for them.

Smart solutions to snoring

Yuen discovered the Smart Nora, an Oprah-approved machine that monitors snoring levels and fills a pillow insert with air in response. It's supposed to help stimulate the throat muscles and allow for natural breathing.

"It's kind of hit or miss," said Yuen. "I think because I use a memory foam pillow, sometimes the [pillow insert] kind of slides and it doesn't move my head in the right position."

But when it works, it really works.

She uses SnoreLab, an app that records and tracks snoring, to track whether various sleep solutions are helping her. She's noticed that quiet nights are more frequent since using the Smart Nora.

Ladies, get in position

For pregnant women, a growing belly can make sleeping tricky at the best of times. But finding the right position to sleep in can make all the difference in reducing the snoring.

"Sleeping on my back is often the worst," said Yuen. "Sleeping on my left side is better but … I'm still snoring while sleeping on my side. So sleeping sitting up has been the most effective so far."

She also stacks pillows so she sleeps slightly more upright. She says it helps keep her airways open and her snoring to a minimum.

Jenny, pictured here with the Smart Nora (on the floor beside the bed) and their dog Wampa. (Submitted by Jenny Yuen)

Classic methods to catch some Zs

Earplugs may be an obvious solution, and it can be an effective one — but not all are made equal.

"The earplugs have had a positive impact 70 per cent of the time," said Christian.

"Occasionally they will fall out, but for the most part they work really well. The best are the wax earplugs because they're more moldable [and] … they really do block the noise."

Thomas Christian prefers the soft wax earplugs because they're moldable and provide a better barrier for noise. (Submitted by Jenny Yuen)

One online tip from a sleep expert suggested surrounding yourself with a wall of pillows. But Christian doesn't buy it.

"That doesn't work. Plain and simple," said Christian. "It might be a comforting thing to be surrounded in the cocoon, but … if most earplugs won't do it, then a pillow is just not gonna cut it."

'Good training' for parenthood

Despite the recent spate of restless nights, Yuen and Christian see one silver lining: it's helping prepare them for parenthood.

"It's good training to just have to put yourself in a situation where you're having to wake up multiple times in a night and how do you function the next day and how do you live with that consistently?" said Christian.

Yuen hopes their experience and advice will be helpful for other couples.

"I think maybe a lot of pregnant women are in the same boat as me, where they feel a little bit bad about their snoring," she said.

"Hopefully it's just a passing thing, and you can just think of it as stretch marks: it's part of your pregnancy."

Have you experienced snoring while pregnant or found creative snoring solutions that work? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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