Yes, Sleep Apnea & Snoring
Sleep disorders like sleep apnea can create a serious strain in your relationship with your loved one and it can very well end it. Snoring is the third most common cause of divorce in the United States.
Couples where one partner suffers from sleep apnea or snores suffer a high divorce rate, according to the founder of the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush, Dr. Rosalind Cartwright. Seeking medical help for sleep disorders or acute snoring can help you and your partner achieve better sleep for a better mood.
The Strain of Snoring on Marriage & Relationships
The strain caused by sleep apnea and snoring on your partner is very real. As many as 23% of couples sleep separately because of these issues and this can not only create distance and lack of intimacy, but also lead to other struggles such as mood problems that come from a lack of sleep.
In fact, up to 23% of people say that sleep disorders have hurt their sexual relationships and as many as 50% indicate that their quality of life was undermined. Studies confirm that sleep deprivation caused by sleep disorders can make any relationship tense and hostile.
In one case, the wife of a man who suffers from sleep apnea was sleeping for only 73% of the night, compared to the 90% of an average healthy sleeper. That’s an almost 20% reduction in sleep efficiency. Imagine if a fifth of your sleep hours were taken from you.
Sleep Apnea Can Kill Your Sex Life
A sleep condition that damages intimacy with your partner can also undermine your sex life.
The symptoms of a sleep disorder can go beyond loss of intimacy. Studies show that women between the ages of 28 and 64 are significantly more likely to suffer from a decline in libido and sexual dysfunction. A German study from 2009 shows that up to 70% of men who have sleep apnea also suffer from erectile dysfunction.
The cause of reduced sex drive may be caused by a drop in testosterone levels. Testosterone levels are at their highest when you sleep and they decline when you don’t get enough sleep.
This can be very frustrating, and there is something you can do about it.
Change Your Life With a Sleep Study
In one study, the husband, who suffered from sleep apnea, underwent two weeks of treatment using a CPAP machine. After treatment, the wife’s quality of life improved almost five-fold. Her sleepiness scale, or how tired she felt the next day, fell by half and her marital satisfaction score almost doubled.
Getting a sleep study and, if needed, seeking treatment can go a long way in saving and improving your relationship.
A CPAP machine is not your only option. If you mind a CPAP uncomfortable or if, for any other reason, you prefer not to use a CPAP, there are numerous CPAP alternatives available. A custom-fitted snore guard can help you and your loved one get a better night’s sleep in a more comfortable, less intrusive way than CPAP.
The best way to get started it to schedule your sleep study and see your options.
It’s never too late to save your marriage.
8 Tips for Couples With Sleep Disorders
- Communicate. If your marriage or relationship is facing intimacy problems or other tensions, talk about it. An open, honest conversation will help both of you find solutions.
- Have a sleep study done. Sleep disorders are not easy to diagnose and they are not always obvious. Get proof of the problem and have a sleep study conducted.
- Listen to your doctor. It’s okay to feel embarrassed about your sleep disorder and its consequences. It’s not an easy thing to experience. A doctor can help you find the right solution.
- Look after your general health. Sleep apnea is more prevalent in those who are overweight, consume drugs or alcohol, and those who sleep on their back. Adopting new habits can go a long way in improving your life and that of your loved one.
- Make changes in the bedroom. There are a lot of factors that affect our sleep, including the environment we sleep in. Reduce the amount of light and noise in the bedroom. Do what it takes to maximize your chance of falling asleep.
- Look for both short- and long-term solutions. Your sleep disorder may be affecting your relationship right now. A long term treatment can help improve your quality of life for a long time to come, and immediate solutions can help your relationship find immediate relief.
- Make sleep fun. Talk to your loved one before falling asleep. Talk about dreams and other topics, straying away from anything that might create tension. Cuddling also helps.
- Be patient and support your partner. A sleep disorder is not easy to live with, for either partner. Support and validation are crucial, be patient and don’t give up with therapy. Long-term relief from sleep apnea is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if sleep apnea is affecting my relationships?
Trust and communication are key for a healthy relationship. Ask your partner about whether you snore or gasp for air while you sleep. Your condition could be a greater disturbance than you’re aware of. If intimacy has been a problem, your sleep apnea could be contributing to fatigue, weight gain, or reduced libido.
If you haven’t already done so, undergo a sleep study to find out if sleep apnea is keeping you from getting quality sleep. You’ll be amazed at the difference treatment makes to your condition and what a relief it is to stop trying to live with sleep apnea symptoms.
How can treating my sleep apnea improve my romantic relationships?
Therapies for sleep apnea can help reduce or resolve symptoms that interfere with romantic relationships. If irritability or moodiness are contributing to disagreements, treating your sleep apnea can improve your disposition. Instead of trying to ignore your snoring, treating the underlying cause can improve the quality of sleep for you and your partner.
Many patients who experience a reduced libido or erectile dysfunction can reduce their symptoms by getting therapy for sleep apnea. Intimate relationships can benefit from addressing the full spectrum of symptoms caused by sleep apnea—it’s common to see improvements to your mental, emotional, and physical health after consistent treatment.
What if noise from my CPAP machine disturbs the sleep of my partner?
The noise from a CPAP machine is not a significant disturbance for most couples. The gentle whir is usually much preferred to the sounds of snoring and gasping for air at night. However, silent alternatives like oral appliances are available for a more discreet treatment option. Talk to Dr. Clinton about oral appliances for sleep apnea that can help maintain the healthy flow of air in silence and comfort.