Jill and Keith’s Journey with Snoring

We often ask our patients to write a testimonial about their struggles, treatment and success. Jill and Keith were extremely happy I could treat Keith’s snoring. Here is their Journey…(It certainly helps that Jill is a freelance writer, so here is what she shared — Dr. Queen)

The issue came about a bit unexpectedly. Keith and I hadn’t lived together until after we got married, but the nights I did spend with him were never a problem… Our honeymoon went smoothly and all was well. After returning home, we were certainly experiencing the “honeymoon phase” of new marriage. 

Then our 6-month anniversary came around… and well, it all went downhill. We had just finished furnishing our lovely new two-bedroom apartment and were finally getting settled in. We even decided to adopt a German shepherd puppy, a dog breed Keith had always wanted, from a local animal rescue organization. We named him Prancer. 

The three of us were doing wonderfully. Prancer would sleep with us on the foot of our king-sized bed, and Keith and I had plenty of space to be comfortable while still in each other’s presence. But, a few nights after our 6-months, something out of the ordinary happened. 

The night went as usual: Keith and I took Prancer for an evening walk, then watched an episode of our favorite sitcom. Afterwards, we went to bed. I read for about a half-hour, before shutting off the light and getting cozy. I had a big presentation at work the next morning and I wanted to be prepared, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning!

I was just dozing off, the warm weight of Prancer across my feet a soothing comfort, when Keith let out an abrupt, loud snore. I jumped, as the sound totally took me by surprise. Prancer even startled, before realizing it was just Keith and going back to sleep. After a few minutes, Keith quieted back down, and I thought it was just a fluke. Maybe he was just really tired – he did have a lot going on at work. 

I rolled over to my other side so my back faced my husband and attempted to sleep again. Again, I got to the point where I was just beginning to drift off before Keith started up with that irritating snoring. I tapped at Keith’s shoulder. “Keith, you’re snoring!” I remember whisper-yelling at him.

In response, he swatted at my hand, still half-asleep. He mumbled incoherently and went back to sleep, the snoring resuming. I was up until at least 2 am that morning, tossing and turning, before finally falling into a fitful sleep, simply from pure exhaustion. 

I had to down 2 cups of coffee before going to work in hopes that I wouldn’t fall asleep during my presentation. Needless to say, I was not bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and the presentation definitely could’ve gone better. I didn’t talk to Keith much the following night.

I had sincerely hoped Keith’s snoring that night was just because he was overtired and that it wouldn’t become a regular thing… but boy, was I wrong! Keith’s loud, intense, snoring continued on for the next month without fail. It truly began to drive me crazy. I could already see the strain it was starting to have on us; I was cranky from lack of sleep and he was tired of my snapping. 

One day, while I was out with my best friend for some much-needed girl time, she told me about her own experience with her husband’s snoring. She suggested I use earplugs, telling me how her husband bought her a box of “cute” earplugs after they had a big argument about his snoring. She swore by it, saying they saved her marriage.

I wasn’t too fond of the idea of stuffing my ears with something, but I figured, why not at least try it? We went to the drugstore after dinner and I bought a box of bright pink earplugs. I figured Keith would get a laugh out of it, at the very least. 

I got home that night feeling hopeful. Keith and I were trying to keep up with our little routine for the sake of enjoying each other’s company, despite me struggling to do so at night when I would be stuck listening to his snoring instead of sleeping. We walked Prancer, watched a crime show, and went up to bed.

I pulled out the little case of earplugs as we settled into bed. When Keith saw them, he laughed (at least I was right there!) and asked, “seriously?” 

I turned to him. “Yes, seriously. Danielle swore they would work.”

Keith sighed and stretched out on his back. “Well, hopefully they do.”

I put the earplugs in and turned the light off, and that was that.

I wasn’t crazy about the feeling of the earplugs. It took me a few nights to get used to them, especially since I sleep on my side, but for the most part they blocked out Keith’s snoring. At least, they blocked him out enough for me to get some better sleep. 

This solution didn’t last long, though. After about a month of using earplugs in my new nighttime routine, I developed a horrible double ear infection. I hadn’t gotten an ear infection since I was in my teens, so I assumed this was due to my use of the earplugs. My doctor confirmed my suspicions and those earplugs went right in the trash.

Keith’s snoring hadn’t stopped, to my dismay. What else could we do? I did some digging around online to see if I could find a home remedy for the excessive snoring. I found a lot of information on how snoring could be caused by sleeping positions, specifically linked to back-sleepers. A few sites recommended putting a tennis or golf ball in the pocket of your pajama pants to keep you from sleeping on your side.  

I thought it was worth a shot. I picked up a small golf ball and presented the idea to Keith. He thought I was nuts, but after a short argument, he begrudgingly agreed to try it.

Now, if this story went how I wanted it to, this would have worked. Keith would have become a professional side-sleeper in a week, his snoring would have stopped, and we’d be back to normal.

Turns out, Keith couldn’t care less about a golf ball in his pocket. He slept on his back anyway. 

As I was downing my third cup of coffee at my desk one morning, a coworker asked me how I was doing. When I told her, she offered up the idea of using Breathe Right strips. According to her, those things worked magic for her and her husband.

I was skeptical after my previous two attempts that failed so miserably, but I figured I had nothing to lose. Over dinner that night I asked Keith if he would be up for trying the strips. I could tell he was getting tired of my relentless ideas to get his snoring to cease, but if he wanted me to keep sleeping in our bed, he was going to have to humor me. 

We picked up a box of Breathe Right strips. He smacks one on his nose before going to bed and drifts off to sleep almost immediately. 

I almost died of relief when his snoring didn’t start up loudly. I could still hear him breathing, almost like he was a little congested. But the snoring was gone! I breathed a sigh of relief and finally went to sleep at a decent hour. 

I woke up the next morning to Keith shaking my shoulder, grumbling. I felt refreshed as I stretched and sat up. Then I turned to see what in the heck my husband was going on about… and almost choked on my laughter.

“Jill! This is not funny! I can’t feel my nose!” Keith yelled at me. His nose was bright red and swollen. It looked like he had gotten punched. 

“What…what is that?” I tried to curb my giggling.

“Those stupid Breathe Right strips, Jill! That’s what!” Keith stomped out of the room to go find some Benadryl. 

So… that was a lost cause. Something in the adhesive clearly did not agree with Keith’s skin, and his nose was swollen and itchy for two days. Needless to say, this failed attempt ended with him being miserable.

After that, we both stopped trying to stop his snoring. But I was continuously getting insufficient sleep, and was hardly able to function. I was overtired, irritated, and almost always had a pounding headache. Keith and I got into an argument almost everyday, sometimes more than once. I was so unhappy… All I could do was wonder what in the world had happened. Did I do something to deserve his incessant snoring?

As we were coming up to our 1 year of marriage, I (albeit, ironically) started sleeping in the guest room. I just couldn’t take the noise anymore, and I needed to be able to go to work and survive the day. Sure, it was lonely. I felt like our marriage, as young as it was, was already going down the toilet. I couldn’t think about it too long or else I would totally freak myself out.

I felt lonely in my own home. Keith and I would work around each other and barely interact. The little things we had liked to do together fell apart quickly and soon, we had our own separate routines going on. It was like having a roommate instead of a husband… and I hated it.

A few weeks before our anniversary, Keith surprised me with a trip he had planned. I had always wanted to go to Costa Rica, and he had booked us a 13-day cruise that would port there, along with some other beautiful destinations along Central America. 

I was so surprised and excited! This felt like the perfect way to get our marriage back on track and celebrate our anniversary. I was so impressed that Keith had planned all of it for us.

In all my excitement, I didn’t even think about the fact that we would have to share a room until we were on the flight to Florida to board the ship. I felt dread boiling up in my stomach. What would I do if I couldn’t get any sleep over the next 13 days? My vacation would end up being a nightmare.

Everything about the ship was amazing, and our little room was stunning. We had a little balcony that went right over the water. We spent the first evening exploring the ship and hitting one of the pools. I felt so relaxed. At least, up until it was time for us to go to bed.

I silently prayed that, by some miracle, Keith wouldn’t snore this week. Maybe it had stopped and neither of us had known, with me usually in a different room. I went to bed with a smidge of hope.

As soon as Keith went to sleep, though… You guessed it! He started snoring. It was even worse than I remembered. It was like sleeping next to a buzzsaw. I hid my head under my pillow, but I could still hear it. I tossed and turned for another hour before I had an idea: I could listen to some music! Surely that would help.

I pulled out my earbuds from my purse and plugged them in. I decided to play a rain playlist that was supposed to help me drift off to sleep. I had to turn it up to almost full volume to block out Keith’s snore, but at last, I finally fell asleep.

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. I woke up the next morning with a headache and my ears ringing from having the volume up so loud. I was a bit cranky that day, but tried my best to enjoy the vacation. I still had to choose what I would deal with that night: Keith’s snoring or constant ear ringing the next day.

I went the rest of the vacation trying to deal with hearing Keith’s snoring through the night.

Not the best vacation.

When we got home, Keith and I had agreed to visit an ENT to, hopefully, get to the bottom of the issue. We went to see Dr. Mellis in Leesburg. He was a great doctor, very understanding and personable. He checked out Keith’s sinuses, but, to my dismay, everything looked normal to him.

Dr. Mellis recommended visiting a sleep specialist, as he didn’t think Keith’s sinuses had much to do with the snoring problem. We left the office a bit deflated, but at least we had another lead.

Dr. Mellis recommended visiting Dr. Queen in Herndon. I made an appointment with him right away. The front desk staff were amazing over the phone, so I had high hopes for the appointment. They asked us to download the app Snorelab and record Keith’s snoring before coming in for our first appointment, so Dr. Queen could have a baseline.

The app was easy to use. Keith downloaded it on his phone and all he had to do was press start before going to sleep. He set it down on his nightstand to record and went to sleep. I sat in bed with him to read a bit, but ultimately had gone back to sleeping with Prancer in the guest room. 

When it came time to visit with Dr. Queen, Keith and I were both hopeful but nervous. I realized Keith’s snoring was taking a horrible toll on our marriage, and I was worried if we didn’t find an answer soon, we’d be in big trouble.

We arrived at the office with the data from Snorelab ready to go. The office was lovely. The receptionist was so nice, too! We were called back by a staff member who chatted with the two of us and helped us feel a bit more comfortable about the appointment. I was very impressed and hoped that the rest of the appointment would go just as well.

Dr. Queen entered shortly after. He was so sweet and understanding of our situation. Keith and I described in detail what had been going on and why his snoring was such an issue for us. Dr. Queen truly empathized with us and explained that we weren’t the only couple to have such problems.

After he took a look at the snoring data and examined Keith, he confirmed that Keith was dealing with chronic snoring and that it is very common. I was surprised by this but grateful that it wasn’t something more serious, like sleep apnea. 

Dr. Queen suggested using a SomnoMed oral appliance to help with the snoring. The appliance would fit similar to a mouth guard that Keith could just wear at night. Dr. Queen assured us it wouldn’t be uncomfortable and that Keith would get used to it pretty quickly. 

We made another appointment to get the moldings done so they custom-fit the appliance. The next appointment Keith went alone, but he told me all went just as well as the consultation and that he was excited to start using the appliance (and get me back to our bed!).

Keith had one more appointment to adjust the appliance. He came home with some easy instructions on how to maintain it. He also bought some melatonin supplements, recommended by Dr. Queen, that could help him get to sleep easier as he was adjusting to the appliance.

The first night, I was a bit nervous for Keith. He took a supplement, kissed me goodnight, and put the appliance in. It didn’t look too uncomfortable, and he seemed fine with in. He fell asleep within the hour. I waited for another hour, up reading with Prancer curled up by feet. I expected to hear snoring. But as the hours passed and all was quiet, I realized there clearly wouldn’t be any. I was shocked!

I wanted to get up and do a happy dance at how silent the room was. It was incredible. All I could hear was Prancer’s breathing and the humming of the AC. I turned off the light and fell asleep within minutes.

I woke up the next morning, and felt like a new person. It was the weekend and Keith surprised me with breakfast in bed. I was thrilled. Was I in an alternate universe?

Keith smiled at me. “So, I assume the appliance worked, right?”

“Yes!” I squealed and gave him a hug. 

The next few months went by snore-free, and follow-ups with Dr. Queen went smoothly. Keith and I were back to sleeping in the same bed, enjoying each other’s company, and planning romantic vacations, with no worries about snoring. I am convinced that Dr. Queen saved our marriage! 

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