If you have ever considered smothering your partner with a pillow during the night, this article is for you.
Allow me to clarify: if you have considered smothering them to silence their snoring, read on. If you have considered smothering them for a different reason, stop reading, and go get help.
Snoring! Ahhhhhhhghrrrrrr! Am I right? You’re tired, you have to work or get up with the kids or just function as a human being the next day, and you can’t drown out the thunderous noise emitting from their face. Your frustration is growing exponentially. You gently nudge them, then half an hour later you less-than-gently nudge them again—and still, they sleep on peacefully (much to your irritation).
I feel your pain. I really do. My husband and I slept in separate rooms for two years because I couldn’t deal with his snoring. The thing is, they may not be sleeping as peacefully as you think.
A campaign called “Don’t Ignore the Snore” aims to raise awareness about the link between snoring and sleep apnea. If you haven’t heard of sleep apnea, here is a brief overview:
Sleep apnea means that a person stops and starts breathing in their sleep. There are three types, with obstructive being the most common. With obstructive sleep apnea, throat muscles relax and cause the airway to become blocked. This can also cause (EXTREMELY) loud snoring.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
-Daytime sleepiness even after a long sleep
-Dry mouth or sore throat
-Episodes of stopping breathing observed by someone else
-Abrupt awakening with shortness of breath
Not all of these symptoms occur with Sleep Apnea, so if you or your partner have any of these on the list, it’s worth a visit to the doctor.
Why is it important? If your partner snores and you can deal with it, do you still need to get it checked out? It’s sometimes hard to get someone to see a doctor when they don’t believe something is a problem. Here are some complications of untreated sleep apnea and why it’s important to address it:
Sleep apnea can cause or complicate:
-High blood pressure and heart issues
-Type 2 diabetes
-Medication and surgery complications
-Daytime fatigue and falling asleep unintentionally
-Problems with mood and interpersonal relationships
-And, of course, keeping your partner awake!
And it isn’t just them you need to watch for. Ask your partner if you snore, or videotape yourself. My doctor asked me if I snored when I was there for a physical. I said a little bit, but neither my husband (who has sleep apnea) nor I thought much of it. She sent me for a test anyway, and it turns out I have severe sleep apnea. I had no idea, and I’m so glad she caught it.
The good news is that sleep apnea is easily diagnosed and treated. In most cases, a night at a sleep clinic—or as I liked to view it, one blissful night away to myself—will show any episodes of breathing cessation. If apnea is determined, a treatment plan will be worked out, which often includes a CPAP or APAP machine. These machines seem intimidating at first. People think they can’t possibly sleep with a mask on their face. My husband and I were both these people. It can take a couple of weeks to get used to, but eventually, you get so used to it you have trouble sleeping without it. My husband brought his to the hospital when I was in labour in case he needed to sleep over!
And it works. The first night my husband used his machine, he was so silent that I stayed up half the night checking to make sure he was alive. In my case, the difference I feel when I use the machine and when I don’t is intense. I used to fall asleep against my will on the couch, at the movies, everywhere. The machine makes me feel so much more alert and rested.
So if your partner snores, don’t suffocate them. Get them to the doctor for a sleep clinic referral (and get yourself there if you are a snorer too). If you don’t snore, but check some of those other boxes, make that appointment anyway.
You’ll both sleep better knowing you did.