Anyone who regularly snores will know how disruptive snoring can be, not just to them but for a partner, too. Trying to sleep next to someone who snores can be very difficult, affecting quality of sleep and leaving you fatigued the next day.
In fact, snoring has the potential to place huge stress on a relationship, an uncomfortable thought ahead of Valentine's Day.
Couples may start to sleep in separate bedrooms when one or both partners snore. This may sound a little extreme, but recent studies suggest between 25% and 40% of couples already sleep in separate bedrooms.
This can ultimately impact on the intimacy of a relationship, while also removing the closeness of the emotional bond which sleeping in the same bed brings.
You may already have your Valentine's Day gift for your partner all planned out. But adding a sincere effort to reduce your snoring could be the best present of the lot!
What Causes You to Snore?
Snoring is a type of sleep-disordered breathing and occurs when airflow, while sleeping, becomes disrupted. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common condition that involves snoring -- and one experienced more by men and people who are overweight, as excess throat tissue obstructs the airways.
Pauses in breathing (“apneas”) can happen multiple times a night, even hundreds of times in severe cases. The outcome is poor quality of sleep, leading to fatigue, increased irritability, and poor concentration.
Overall, these reasons can lead to snoring:
- Blocked nasal airways from a sinus infection, or nasal problems like nasal polyps or a deviated septum
- Being overweight, which can lead to excess, bulky throat tissue
- Poor muscle tone resulting in a collapsing of the airways
- Having a long soft palate or uvula which narrows the airways
- Sleeping on your back
- A lack of sleep which can cause muscles to become overly relaxed
If you snore, it could be a symptom of an underlying issue such as the sleep apnea. Addressing the issue will therefore benefit both partners.
When a partner snores, a gradual feeling of guilt and resentment can build. Guilt from the snorer who knows the impact on their partner, and resentment from the partner who cannot sleep or has to remove themselves to a spare bedroom in order to be able to sleep.
To avoid placing such strains on a relationship, there are ways to help you snore less or remove the issue completely.
As weight can be a primary factor why someone snores, a weight loss plan can help. You could work with a health provider to devise a plan involving more exercise and a better diet to promote sensible weight loss.
Another lifestyle change you could look at is your alcohol consumption. Along with certain medications, alcohol acts as a muscle relaxant. When the throat or tongue muscles are too relaxed, they can collapse and obstruct the airways, making you snore.
Changing your sleeping position is a simple way to address snoring. If you are prone to sleeping on your back, try shifting on to your side. Such a positional change can keep the airways open.
If you find it difficult to break the habit of sleeping on your back, you could try raising the head of the bed a few inches or bulking up on pillows to help counter gravity that prompts the snoring.
Snoring as a Symptom of Sleep Apnea
Beyond the frustration of the snoring sound, someone who snores could be at an increased risk of health complications. Snoring is one of the main symptoms of the sleep disorder sleep apnea. The most common form of this sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which involves a frequent collapsing of the airways as you sleep.
When the airways collapse, it causes breathing difficulties and prompts the brain to awake the body for air. These frequent interruptions to sleep cause excessive daytime fatigue, another main symptom of OSA.
However, it may be a bed partner who first reports these disturbances to your sleep as well as the fact you snore.
In a large majority of incidences, OSA remains undiagnosed, and without treatment it can increase the risk from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Once diagnosed, this debilitating sleep disorder can be treated, helping to reduce or eliminate symptoms including the loud snoring.
Testing for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Further symptoms of sleep apnea include morning headaches, increased irritability, drowsy driving, and reduced concentration.
If you have symptoms, you should consult with your primary care doctor, who can determine if you are at risk for OSA -- or for another sleep disorder.
They may recommend an in-home test with SleepQuest, which is convenient and simple to do while you sleep in your own bed. The data collected is sent to be analyzed before the results are returned to your health provider.
Treatment to Reduce Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, your health provider may just recommend lifestyle changes. As with snoring, a major contributing factor with this sleep disorder is weight, so a plan for weight loss may be recommended.
An oral, retainer-style appliance may also be advised, which is worn overnight to keep the tongue in place and the airways open. For those with moderate to severe OSA, you may be recommended CPAP, which involves a device to supply pressurized air through a mask worn as you sleep -- to help ensure the airways do not collapse.
If you snore, the best gift you might give your partner this Valentine's Day is a plan to address the issue. Alleviating this noisy bedtime problem can reduce the strain it places on a relationship -- and restore lost levels of intimacy.
As snoring can also be a sign of a chronic disorder like sleep apnea, consulting with your doctor may put you on the path to important treatment for a previously undiagnosed and potentially damaging disorder.