Backpacking the world is a truly life changing experience, a journey that offers both rewards and challenges in abundance. Some of these may be obvious to you – stepping outside of your comfort zone into a new culture is often top of a backpackers list when you ask them about the rewards and challenges of travel.
But it is within the mundane that sometimes the biggest challenges lie… such as navigating the ins and outs of finding yourself in super close proximity with other humans in a hostel dorm. The lack of personal space, the questionable hygiene of certain dorm mates and occasional interruption of the couple in the bunk opposite getting jiggy wit it at 2am can really test a backpacker’s resolve.
But of all the challenges that hostel life serves up, none can rival the challenge of dealing with snoring in a hostel dorm. Look, I ain’t no Andrew Huberman, I can’t tell you the ins and outs of the importance of sleep but it sure as heck is pretty darn crucial to recovery. When we are on the road and have a packed itinerary to get through and timeless memories to make, sleep is important and it can so easily be taken from us by somebody else enjoying there’s maybe a bit too much!
In this post we will look at how to deal with snoring in hostel dorms and we will come at this from the perspective of the snorer, and the snored. Strap in friends and here’s hoping this lighthearted and practical post will arm you with the tips you need to sleep rather than sending you to sleep.
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What To Do If YOU Are The Hostel Snorer
Alright, look, confession time – I’m a part time snorer. It really depends on what’s going on but if I’m a little sick, a lot drunk or have been snorting shiny white powders, I sound pretty similar to a foghorn whilst getting some Zzzzz…
Now whilst some of the above is absolutely on me, it’s important to understand that a lot of people snore when they are sick or tired, or mayhap they just don’t have the same shape of nasal tubes as others (again, I’m not Huberman). If you are amongst the snoring crowd, i fully understand that it is not your fault and logically speaking, nobody should really hold you personally responsible. However the reality is that your dorm mates may still harbour a serious albeit illogical resentment towards you that may well end in your mysterious disappearance on a tropical island…
As such, if you are aware that you are a hostel snorer and want to know what (if anything) you can do to reduce your snoring then honestly brother, or sister, good on you for taking to the interwebs to track the answers down… I got you boo.
Here are some steps you can try to reduce your snoring, win some hostel buddies over, and maybe even sur-thrive your round the world trip…
- Change your sleeping position: Sleeping on your back can make snoring a helluva lot worse. So instead, try sleeping on your side. Personally, I like to have a pillow between my legs as well as it keeps your hips open and your spine from twisting, this is better for your overall posture and if you’re carrying a backpack all over the world, your posture is something you want to watch. You will probably move during the night at some point but at least you’ll be starting the night right. You can also try elevating your head with a pillow to open up your airway a bit.
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives: Both of these substances can relax the muscles in your throat which will make snoring worse. If possible, avoid drinking alcohol or taking sedatives before bed. I know that hostel beers are a part of backpacker life and I salute your stoic abstinence…you shall be rewarded in Valhalla!
- Keep your nasal passages clear: If you have a stuffy nose, it can make it harder to breathe through your nose and this can lead to snoring. I recently discovered a Nasal Irrigation System that I now use to clean my passages before bed and I can truthfully tell you it has changed my life. I tend to suffer quite a lot from hayfever and using this thing first thing in the morning has made it so much better PLUS if one were to hypothetically party on down with some snortables, this would be a very smart way to end the night. You can also try using nasal strips to help keep your nasal passages clear.
- Lose weight: I’ll be blunt. Most of the hostel snorers who plagued me upon my travels were at least a bit overweight. Being fat increases your chances of being a snorer and makes others that bit less sympathetic to your “unintentional” snoring. We get that this is not something you can fix in a day, but the benefits of getting in shape are endless. Why not start with our Staying Fit on the Road guide?!
- Use a humidifier: Did you know that dry air can irritate the tissues in your throat, making snoring worse? If possible, try using a humidifier can help keep the air moist and reduce snoring. You may need to speak to the hostel staff about this but they will hopefully want to help you out and allow it.
- Invest in a snoring aid: There are various devices available, such as mouthpieces, nasal dilators or chin straps, that can help reduce snoring. If you are a snorer, you absolutely do need to look into this but I don’t have one I can recommend as I haven’t tried any myself.
- Talk to a doctor: Finally, if your snoring persists despite these measures or if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like excessive daytime sleepiness or gasping for breath during sleep, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor. They can evaluate you for any underlying conditions that may be contributing to your snoring and recommend appropriate treatment.
If You Are Being Kept Awake By a Hostel Snorer
Firstly, do remember that when you choose to book a stay in a hostel dorm you kind of implicitly sign up for various annoyances and snoring is amongst them. Still, we get that you non-snorers are the suffering party here, and have every right to take reasonable steps to try and protect the sanctity of your sleep.
Here are some suggestions to help you deal with the hostel dorm snorer;
- Earplugs: Kind of a no brainer. Wearing earplugs can help to block out the sound of snoring and make it easier to sleep. If you spend a lot of time in dorms, spend the money and get some high quality earplugs.
- Head Phones: Personally, I often like to sleep with certain music or podcasts playing quite happily. A yoga-nidra is a great choice. Find a style of music that has a steady gentle rhythm or a podcaster with a particularly dreary voice and slip in your ear phones!
- White noise: Playing white noise (or maybe green noise), such as a fan or a white noise app on your phone, can help to mask the sound of snoring. While swapping one sound for another may seem silly, as long as the sound is constant, it will still be infinitely better than listening to Donny o‘ Dormsnore over there keep you up all night.
- Wake The Snorer: If it’s a particularly aggressive bout of snoring then go ahead and wake the culprit, politely and with empathy. They will hopefully be cool with it and will change position and it may minimise the issue at least for a while
- Ask for a room change: If the snoring is really disruptive and none of the other options work, you can try asking the hostel staff if you can move to a different room or a quieter area of the hostel. They may even take pity and throw you a private.
- Squat elsewhere: If the hostel staff can’t (or won’t help) then I am afraid you may have to go rogue and try to find a quiet spot to squat-sleep yourself. Good options are the hostel common areas (it’s usually quiet at night) or you can try your luck and see if any empty private rooms are unlocked. One time, I took my pillow and slept on the hostel’s roof terrace – of course, this one only works in warm countries.
- Bring your own sleeping gear: If you’re a light sleeper or particularly sensitive to noise, consider bringing your own sleeping gear, such as a sleep mask, earplugs, or a white noise machine.
Remember, it’s important to be respectful and kind when dealing with snoring in a hostel dorm. Try to understand that snoring is a pretty common issue and that the person who is snoring may not be able to help it or may not even be aware of it. And of course, if they are aware then they are probably a tad embarrassed so remember – us backpackers are all in together, play nice.
So there we have it! We all know too well the pain of being kept awake by Charle-Choo-Choo-Train in the opposite bed and the hard fact is that as long as you continue to stay in hostels, you are going to suffer this terrible scourge now and then. It’s a part of life…
That said, I hope that my list of tips and tricks will help you find some peace of mind and get a better night’s sleep whether you are the snorer and the poor bugger being kept awake all night. Good luck friends!
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