It’s time to solve one of the biggest sleep mysteries of all time: Why do loud snorers wake up everyone in the house except him- or herself?

It’s a question recently posed to Dr. Raj Kakar, director of the Dallas Center for Sleeping Disorders. And he says the answer boils down to the fact that snorers can’t hear their own snoring!

How is that possible? Dr. Kakar says unlike a sore throat – that comes and goes in a matter of days – snoring is a problem that develops slowly, over many months and years. He says snores happen when the soft tissue in the upper airway becomes more relaxed, making it difficult for air to pass through. At first, that’ll cause a low vibration in the throat that you can barely hear, then, as the soft tissue becomes “floppier” over time, snores become gradually louder.

The problem is that most of us learn to “tune out” certain sounds while we’re sleeping – like cars passing outside, or crickets chirping. Snorers are the same way. Over the years, they learn to tune out the sound of their own snoring! Plus, our expert says the most persistent snoring happens during the deepest part of sleep, when we’re less likely to wake from any sound.

So, if you sleep with a loud snorer who can’t be disturbed, how can you get them to stop? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, you can try a little “elbow therapy.” That’s where you use an elbow to nudge a snorer onto their side, where they’ll be able to breathe more easily. Plus, a slight jab with your elbow might startle a snorer enough to cause their throat muscles to tighten, and quiet that “buzz-saw sound.”