You go to bed at night and your bed partner joins you. Just as you are drifting off to sleep, you hear it—the usual loud snoring that indicates that your spouse has fallen asleep. You may be irritated and cranky about the snoring that keeps you up at night, or it may have gone on for so long by now that you feel used to it. However, you may not realize that night after night of sleep disruptions could be harming your marriage.
A study conducted by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois set out to examine this issue. The study, according to Science Daily, specifically looked at how sleep apnea affected a snoring spouse’s sleep, as well as the couple’s overall satisfaction with their marriage.
From the Science Daily article: “This is a frequent problem within marriages that nobody is paying enough attention to,” said Rosalind Cartwright, PhD, founder of the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush. “Couples who struggle with sleep apnea have a high-divorce rate. Can we save marriages by treating sleep apnea? It’s a question we hope to answer.”
The problem is more common than you might imagine. According to the Merck Manual, around 57% of men and 40% of women in the U.S. snore. This means men and women everywhere are affected by a snoring spouse.
It isn’t hard to imagine why a marriage where people are losing sleep suffers. When you think of your behavior after a bad night of sleep, one main thing comes to mind: a cranky mood. If the problem is chronic, like when a patient is suffering from sleep apnea, over time, this can add to stress on both partners. According to a study conducted by Chronobiology International, “Wives of patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) perceive their marriages as more stressful, and they perceive no regeneration by social activities and leisure time.”
In addition, waking up several times a night has detrimental effects on your health, including higher risk of an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. If you have a snoring partner that is causing you to lose sleep, these health effects could be passed on to you as well.
Some people choose to solve the problem by getting a “Sleep Divorce,” choosing to save their marriage and health by sleeping apart. But, according to that same Chronobiology International study, for many couples, sleeping together is an important expression of intimacy and attachment that helps to intensify romantic relationships.
So what can you do if you have a snoring spouse?
The great news is, if snoring is caused by sleep apnea, treatment is readily available. The first step is to discover the reason for the snoring and if the cause is obstructive sleep apnea. To do this, you can visit us at Rondeau and Associates, where we can provide a free consultation to discuss your treatment options. We will take your history, conduct a series of tests to understand your nasal cavities and airway, and send you home with a home sleep study. If your sleep apnea is the source of the problem, we will recommend a treatment method. With mild or moderate cases of sleep apnea, the treatment can be conducted with an oral appliance—a removable device like a retainer that holds your airway open at night to allow you to breathe. This solution is excellent for many people who have mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea or who cannot tolerate a CPAP machine.
Ending the snoring can be the best solution to bringing both spouses a good night’s sleep—and helping the marriage in the process. In the Rush study, one of the couples included a wife who was woken from sleep 8 times an hour by her husband’s snoring. The wife had tried everything—from ear plugs to the above mentioned sleep divorce. The wife’s rating of her quality of life was at a 1.2, she rated how tired she felt at a 12, and she rated her marital satisfaction at a 3. The husband then started treatment for his sleep apnea and the scores jumped radically within two weeks. Quality of life went from 1.2 to 7. Tiredness went from 12 to 6. And her marital satisfaction went from 3 to 5.8, all in that short amount of time.
Are you interested in taking the first step to see if you can help your snoring spouse—so you both can both get back to a good night’s sleep and possibly higher satisfaction with your marriage? Set up your consultation today at Dr. Rondeau’s London, Ontario office.